KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — When friends Amelia Sia and Lee Xin Yi go camping together, they would always pack a lot of food to cook outdoors. Each time they went camping, there would be a mountain of things they cart to the campsite.
One day, they decided to come up with a multi-use garlic herb butter spread. The flavoured butter can be used beyond just simply spreading it on toast, as it can also be a marinade for meats and seafood or even a substitute for cooking oil. Eventually, that ingenious idea became a business opportunity for both girls when they teamed up to start Sapu-lah Spread.
The duo had met in the course of work, as Sia works in a post-production house while Lee is with an advertising firm. “After that, we realised that we went to the same college together,” said Sia. Both of them really enjoy garlic herb butter spread and thought that since no one actually sells a good homemade version, why not start a business doing just that?
“We also wanted to make our own garlic herb butter because we find the ones in the store not garlicky enough,” said Sia. Both Sia and Lee enjoy cooking so they tested out various recipes. After a few recipes, they decided to stick to the current one and it proved to be a hit with many of their testers.
As they both juggle full-time jobs, they only make the garlic herb butter spread during weekends and public holidays. “We make 100 jars per day and that is the maximum we can make because of the lack of storage. There are days when we literally spend the whole day just making garlic herb butter spread, from 12pm to 12am!” said Lee. Since the flavoured butter is free from any preservatives, it must be kept refrigerated at all times. According to the duo, the spread can last up to six months when refrigerated.
“The garlic herb butter spread is perfect for lazy cooks as it can be used for anything. We share with our customers through Facebook and Instagram the many ways you can use it for. For example, you can cook it with pasta, marinade meats for barbecues, spread it on corn on cob, it is very versatile,” said Sia.
When asked if there would be other spreads in the future, both girls explain that it is still a work in progress. They want it to be a surprise, not even giving a hint on whether it will be a sweet or savoury spread. “You can expect to see it within two to three months,” said Lee.
The customers of Sapu-lah Spread have also been very creative and whenever Sia and Lee notice a cool recipe using their garlic herb butter, they will repost a photo of that dish on social media. The fairly new side business started in August but they have been working on it, doing research since the beginning of the year.
“We chose to launch our garlic herb butter spread first because it is a familiar spread. If you release something new, people might be put off if it is a weird flavour,” said Sia.
Recently, they participated in their first bazaar, which is the ‘What Matters Most’ bazaar at Awegallery organised by Bok Tjuv and Awesome Canteen. Their next bazaar appearance was at the Markets by Jaya One. You can also find their spread at The Red Cherry store in Pop @ Jaya One.
“During the bazaar, we had very good response. We didn’t expect a lot of sales. For us, it was a way to expose our brand,” said Lee. They sold 50 jars within the day. Most of the customers find out about the brand through Instagram and Facebook. At the start of Sapu-lah Spread, they would give out tasters for sampling. Now that they are known in some circles, they have stopped producing tasters but started selling their 250 gram jars for RM18.
One of the biggest fans of Sapu-lah Spread’s garlic herb butter is Lee’s father who eats it every day. Sometimes, her mother incorporates the spread into her cooking too. “I still eat it even though I spend hours making it. I’m not bored of it,” said Sia.
The name Sapu-lah Spread came about while they were in the car. “We wanted it to sound Malaysian so I asked what is ‘spread’ in Malay,” said Sia. “I said ‘Sapulah’ and then we decided to use that. It also means to whack everything and finish it all so it was perfect,” said Lee.