Article from the Sun daily by Rachel Law (posted on 14 July 2015)
RACHEL Ong was in London to study film and creative writing but little did she know that an encounter with organic peanut butter would revolutionise the way she sees and consumes the popular sandwich spread – so much so that a dream to initiate a peanut butter concept store was sparked.
"I tried organic peanut butter for the first time when I was staying at a friend's and it tasted really good and different! The oil in natural peanut butter tends to separate but it tastes fresh and nice compared to store-bought peanut butter, which can be bitter from all the binders and chemicals they put in," explained Rachel, 26.
The puzzle pieces came together when her elder sister Alina was looking for a business idea, leading to the birth of Peanut Butter Factory (PBF) in Kuala Lumpur.
Although it has yet to evolve into a novelty shop and Alina has since left to focus on her career, Rachel is moving onwards and upwards with former college mate Alexa Goh.
PBF, which has been operating online and in bazaars since January 2014, offers your typical smooth and chunky peanut butters, in flavours that vary from cranberry to chocolate chip, as well as butters made from cashews and almonds. Its handmade to-order, all-natural goodies carry no added oil, preservatives and little sugar so we can dig in sans the guilt!
How did you come up with the final recipe and the variety of flavours?
RACHEL: I like sweet but my sister likes savoury so it took us three months to agree on a base. Then we had to test out how long the peanut butters would last inside and outside the fridge. After that we experimented with flavours. We have seasonal ones which are granola and cookie butter but we stopped kaya because it has a short shelf life and it takes two days of preparation before you can actually use the extract. As for ingredients such as the cranberries and jams, we make sure they are either organic or homemade.
Do you have a business principle you adhere to?
RACHEL: You have to care about your products. I put myself in a customer's shoes when I prepare the peanut butter, so I do it in the cleanest and healthiest way possible. You can't skimp on ingredients or compromise the quality. If you're going to pay for it then you'd expect the best. Sometimes I'd throw out a peanut butter batch if it didn't turn out well and redo it.
Any expansion plans for PBF in the near future?
RACHEL: We'll continue to participate in bazaars but the main dream is to open a peanut butter concept store or restaurant. We're toying with the idea by incorporating our products into food which we sell at bazaars. We have done peanut butter tacos, cashew butter Vietnamese spring rolls and once, peanut butter chicken stew!
What is it like working with each other?
RACHEL: We spend a lot of time together. At one point we started signing a lot of documents for partnership agreements and a joint account, it felt like we're getting married.
ALEXA: Yeah, especially when both our families came to check out the kitchen space we got!
How would you spend your time if you're not caught up with the business?
RACHEL: I want to be a filmmaker so I make sure to produce one film a year. I like to go to the gym.
ALEXA: I read novels and take pictures. I do leather craft but it's so time consuming. I've made a passport holder and coin pouch.