Mompreneur series: Jesmine of Applecrumby & Fish

Many of us have shopped at Applecrumby & Fish, a homegrown online store that now has a range of products of their own. We talk to Jesmine Tan, Co-Founder and Chief Operation Officer about what it took to get an online business off the ground!

Can you give us a brief description of your business and when it started?

Our strategy is to become a household brand. Applecrumby & Fish is a baby well-being brand whose mission to provide safe, natural and organic products at an affordable price without compromising quality and customer service.

My husband Sean and I founded the e-commerce platform back in October 2012. As parents of a baby girl, we found a gap in the market for safe, natural and organic baby products.

We did our research and found out that not only demand was met with scarcity but what little was available, was either overpriced or if affordable, not up to the quality we were looking for. This propelled us to start one of the first baby platforms that takes pride in providing only toxic free baby products.

In 2016, we launched our own private label, Applecrumby™. We now have chlorine-free Applecrumby™ Extra Thick Wipes infused with a botanical blend of aloe vera and chamomile extract, chlorine-free Applecrumby™ diapers and chemical-free Applecrumby™ detergents. We will soon be launching our baby skincare range.

Applecrumby Fish - Happy Go KL
Photo: by Applecrumby & Fish

What made you decide to turn your interest into a business?

The business did not exactly stem out of interest, it only was when I became a mother and truly felt the need for a platform such as Applecrumby & Fish and saw the value it could give to parents out there. As a go-getter and self-starter, one of my personal beliefs in life is that when there is a need, the best thing you can do is to find the solution – or even better, be the solution. This business was motivated by a need and is continuously driven by passion.

Being an entrepreneur has been part of my life ever since I graduated, so the decision to embark on a new journey was not difficult. Especially when the partner-in-crime, my husband, shared my vision.

How do you balance your time between the other aspects of your life (i.e. being a mum) and being an entrepreneur?

As a founder it is always tempting to work 24-7 but I always make a conscious effort to put work aside when I am spending quality time with my family. It is not easy to juggle as a working mother – I am a family oriented person as much as I am devoted to the business.

Saturdays are always spent with the family, especially when it is about making time for precious moments with my young daughter. Short holidays that I can afford from time to time with my family are a luxury I cherish. We tend to take these holidays during festive seasons so that they don’t interfere too much with the work flow.

Jesmine 2 - Happy Go KL
Photo: by Applecrumby & Fish

Other than that, every small gesture we can afford, like having nice dinners out or just driving around town to look at properties – something we we both enjoy – helps keep me sane. Most of all, I believe that the trick is to have small blocks of time dedicated to the family on a weekly basis just to balance out our hectic schedules.

Sean and I also very much consider Applecrumby & Fish to be our baby and we continue to nurture our passionate, young team of 19. Both of us believe that being present for the team is very important for our talent to grow, we are both leaders who believe in the importance of grooming with guidance.

I view the relationship between family and work to be interdependent. Being able to spend time with the family recharges me and also motivates me to stay committed at work, and vice versa!

Applecrumby and Fish nappies - Happy Go KL
Photo: by Applecrumby & Fish

What challenges did you face getting your business started?

As I already had experience in dealing with a myriad of businesses, starting Applecrumby & Fish was not totally alien for me. Being a COE (Chief of Everything) is a norm that I have gotten used to, so I was able to anticipate challenges even before we started the business.

As Applecrumby & Fish is an e-commerce platform, I would say it was the steep learning curve in technical knowledge that posed a little bit of a climb for me. Digital knowledge was not something I was equipped with, but I must say that I have mostly conquered the curve ball! It has been an amazing experience, from being a newbie to digital marketing to being able to speak lingo and run campaigns independently without an agency!

On a more traditional side, it was tough when we first started the business as nobody in the industry knew us and getting credit terms for most things were unheard of. We quickly learned to build our reputation and now we get approached by partners instead, building more favourable terms and making it a lot easier to get the ball rolling than before.

I believe this is the natural progression for any new business and you would probably learn as you go.

You can shop for Applecrumby & Fish products online here and follow them on Facebook here.

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