Alexandra, a mum of one, came to Malaysia as a trailing spouse and made the jump into starting something completely new – publishing information to others new in KL, first online at Lepetitjournal.com later on at the beautiful city guides – “The Guide” in English and “Le Guide” in French – and the pretty lifestyle website KL Is Mine. Her story is similar to ours at Happy Go KL, and we had fun discussing her journey to mompreneurship!
Can you give us a brief description of your business and when it started?
My job is to share stories with my readers and send a little inspiration their way! I landed in Malaysia 6 years ago, put down my suitcase and settled down. Quite an experience! Even though I fully appreciated how lucky I was to be an expat, depression hit me. I was only asked what my husband’s job was, as if I my own skills had ceased to matter.
It all started with a blog, a way to put this adventure into words. Soon I was receiving more and more questions from readers, and I developed the site into the very first French platform dedicated to Malaysia. Lepetitjournal.com, a media dedicated to French speakers around the world opened a franchise in Kuala Lumpur around that time, and I took it over 8 months later. I have been doing it now for 3.5 years.
I then published the first print guide for my community. A selection of addresses, hidden gems, practical tips, stories on Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, with a new edition each year. Almost 20 people contributed, sharing their knowledge, their expertise and passion for this country. I left the franchise to develop a guide for the English-speaking community. My latest project is KL Is Mine, a more intimate online platform featuring short texts on food and touristic and cultural happenings.
How do you balance your time between the other aspects of your life and being an entrepreneur?
I juggle. Guilt is much higher in my vocabulary list than perfection. Being an entrepreneur means the line between work and home often fades away, last minute texts needing to be done in the evenings, at the weekend, even during our holidays. What saves me? Writing down everything in my agenda. I stick to organising this way, no matter what. It takes constant refining to keep the right balance for my daughter.
What challenges did you face getting your business started?
I started on my own. Each time I wanted to start a project, I was told it would be “impossible”. I learnt that the barrier people saw did not necessarily apply to me and kept going. I face a different challenge now, by trying to find my place in a well-structured media world. I have to prove myself, come up with new ideas, jump from one project to another – all of this, constantly.
What tips do you have for other hobbyists or creatives who are thinking about setting up their own business?
Don’t wait for things to be perfect to jump in. You will improve as you go along. Along the way, I met amazing people who helped and guided me. I understood that keeping the project to myself, to want to wait before talking about it is not necessarily the best option. Sharing it means getting valuable feedback, benefiting from others’ experience and may even bring new opportunities your way. In Malaysia, networking is incredibly powerful.
KL Is Mine is also on Facebook. The Guide is available at the moment in over 90 points of distribution across the city, you can pick up your copy for example at:
- In Ampang: Carpet in, Bike with Elena, Equine KL, Gleneagles
- In Bangsar: Coffee & Covet, CzipLee, Yeast, W1, Dr Ink, 52 Barbers, Rendez-Vous, The Hive
- In Bukit Bintang: French Feast, Pisco Bar, Bottega Mediterranea, No Black Tie, Palillos Spanish Yakitori bar, Spanish
Economic and Commercial Office, Vallette Gallery
- In Damansara Heights: Aliyya Island Restaurant & Bar, La Croisserie, Kita Kita, Matchali
- In KLCC: Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur, Ra-Ft Cafe, Belgian Trade Commission
- In Mont Kiara and Sri Hartamas: Children’s house, Fred Salon, Little Tropical, Sublim’Parents, Aloha Cycle Club, Marta’s Kitchen & Bar, Rubberduck
- Embassies of Argentina, Belgium, Canada and France
- Association Francophone de Malaisie, Association of British Women in Malaysia and LFKL