Our Aim, Guiding Philosophy, or Vision Statement if you will..
When considering concentrating on the chilli oil more as a business, there were a lot of factors to weigh up, especially as it meant that I’d most likely have to leave my secure and better paid full time job in order to continue properly. Like every big decision, I created a mental spreadsheet (sometimes actual) and listed the pros and cons. I looked at how large each list was, and also the level of importance/reward/sacrifice for each pro and con.
The biggest reason is of course that Yok Chan created something so good, that it would be an opportunity missed not to give it a go as a product. That, and the reality that in the little reach it’s had so far, it's been so loved and in demand, that it's pretty much become a public service. Another is that it was a way of spending more time with our parents.
However when imagining the opportunities and where the business could potentially go, there were a few reasons why I personally justified it to myself, as to why I wanted to pursue it properly.
It only really became apparent how great the chilli oil was when we gave it to others, which is when the idea for making it a product really started (see Our Story). Seeing people react to it so positively, made us realise just how good a condiment it was, but amongst other things, it led us to realise how blessed our upbringing was in terms of food.
With the cross of cultures in our household, our family and friends, the focus on food was omnipresent in our upbringing. We didn't realise how unique and vast the food experience we had growing up was, especially when like a lot of kids, we just wanted McDonald’s and fish fingers.
In a way, we took it for granted a bit. I mean for us, it was just food. It was only as we got older that we started appreciating how epically good dad’s curries were, or how tasty and original mum’s inventions were. Over time, when we ventured out into the world, or when friends commented on our parents’ food, we started understanding how lucky we were, how vast the food ranges were and how significant food was in our cultures. Everything revolved around food and eating, in one way or another.
The thing that made the most headlines with friends and family was the chilli oil in particular, because of it’s very nature. It was as an accompaniment that managed to elevate already great food, a condiment that went well with everything, plus it was a giver of spice.
So another factor to pursue this is because we now realise how blessed we’ve been with food and we’d like as many people as possible to experience a sample of that, through the chilli oil Yok Chan invented. It’s the headliner but also does a good job of embodying the influences and foods we’ve been so lucky to have.
Combined with wanting to share the amazing chilli oil Yok Chan created, another reason for continuing was that it felt like a way of celebrating our parents and our heritage. We’re extremely proud of our parents, not just because of where they’re from, but because of who they are. One aim is for the brand to somehow reflect the same ethos and character of them as people, and for others to in some small way, experience that influence.
This sentiment is extra poignant because in the past there have been some points where members of our family (and I imagine people like us) felt we had to sideline elements of where we were from in order to integrate. To have something bring a lot of joy and excitement that came from the aspects of our parents cultures that, we at times were conditioned to hide, dilute or dumb down in order to fit in, if I’m honest feels pretty good. The chilli oil commends our ancestry and our mix of cultures, without any compromise and happily out in the open, in full force.
This has been helped in recent years where important conversations were brought to the service, with attitudes on inequality and diversity being reassessed. It's been encouraging that a general re-evaluation of views has become more of a focus, even if in a few cases the altruistic messages were taken advantage of by some.
Therefore, I also see the brand as an opportunity to pursue a business that at its root, is based around diversity. It represents and promotes different cultures and is derived from South Asian and South East Asian origins. The invention comes from humble beginnings, traditional food knowledge and in my view, is pretty special and unique.
So all in all, even though we have been bestowed onto us liquid gold, there’s a little more to the outlook of the business. I feel it’s an opportunity to also through a brand, celebrate our heritage and to illustrate pride in our mix of cultures and diversity.
Here’s to mums and dads.