The unlikely father-daughter duo building a growing cakoi brand

In the wake of tragically losing her mother to cancer, Nadzirah and her father Jailaini began their first business last November

In the middle of 2016, the usually upbeat Nadzirah Jailaini, and her small, tight knit family of four had to come to grips with a painfully somber development; they had lost their mother, 52-year-old Hjh Rosidah Hj Metusin, to breast cancer.

Hjh Rosidah, a civil servant at the Public Works Department was undoubtedly a pillar of financial and emotional support – she was at the time, the only family member actively working.

Her husband Mohd Jailaini Mokti had retired from the military after 25 years of service in 2012, while her youngest son was still sixth form, and 25-year-old Nadzirah, still in search of a job.

Before she passed, Nadzirah made a promise to her mother, that she would keep the family together and moving forward. At the time, she didn’t have a clue how, but a year later, in a tiny cabin on an empty plot of land in between Simpang 207 and Simpang 185 of Kg Tungku, Nadzirah may have found the answer.

“This is the home of cakoi viral,” says the bubbly 25-year-old, a HND graduate in Business Management from IGS college. “We’re the first to sell cakoi (a deep fried, asian-styled breadstick) in 10 different flavours in Brunei.”

While Nadzirah handles the cash till, packaging, and squeezing on colourful flavours onto the cakoi, her father Jailaini rolls out the dough onto an oiled, steel table, cuts them into small, ruler sized portions which he then places into a wok to deep fry for a few minutes.

Their swift preparation suggests years of experience, but the pair had no practical business training to show for, until they began in November 2016.

“On a good day we can clear between five to ten kilogrammes of dough,” says Nadzirah, averaging out to $5,000 to $6,000 in gross sales. One kg yields about 30 to 40 pieces, three for a dollar if sold plain, two for a dollar with kaya and margarine and a dollar each for the other flavours: chocolate (Cadbury), peanut butter, Oreo, pandan, yam, durian, strawberry, vanilla and charcoal cappucino.

The duo initially began as a trio selling from home with their family’s youngest, 18-year-old Mohd Nadzirul, who will soon leave to Australia on scholarship to pursue his undergraduate degree.

“We started in November with just a few flavours. We know there are many selling cakoi in Brunei, so we brought in the flavours to offer something unique. We also tweaked the dough recipe, and fry it so that it is a little more crunchy and bread-like compared to the regular cakoi,” says Nadzirah, who began posting aggressively on social media to generate word of mouth.

At the start of the year, the father-daughter duo scouted for a more visible location, finding a cube shop called Suka Suka on an otherwise empty, cemented plot of land in Kg Tungku. Nadzirah then phoned up the landlord asking if he was willing to rent a space for their cakoi operation.

“He built up the cabin for us, in exchange for a monthly rental of $200,” said the 25-year-old, who moved into the space in March, re-branding her business from Cakoi Tungku to Cakoi Viral 5754.

Arriving in the morning, Jailaini (pictured above) will prepare the dough, giving it at least 90 minutes to rise before frying the first batch, while Nadzirah focuses on preparing two bottles for each of the 10 flavours.

At 2.30pm, Cakoi Viral opens, shifting two to three hundred sticks, before closing at 6pm, with the duo proceeding to prepare for the next day.

“Perhaps my mum would’ve liked it better if I was working a nice, comfortable office job,” Nadzirah jokes. “She definitely would not have expected this. But what matters is that I keep my promise to carry my family forward.”

Cakoi Viral is open from Monday to Saturday, 2.30pm to 6pm. Follow @cakoi_viral5754 on Instagram to learn more, or contact +6738805754 to get in touch directly.

Public Service Announcement