Located in beautiful Ōtautahi, NZ is a new Bornean/Malaysian-inspired snack van, Gula.
We chat with Sarah about her Malaysian-inspired menu, advice for other self-employed business owners and more…
Hey Sarah, thanks for chatting with me. Firstly, can you please tell our readers how Gula started?
Starting my own food business has always been something I’ve known I wanted to do eventually since I started baking at the age of 19.
Gula was created because I was so homesick after the pandemic happened and I wasn’t able to fly home to Malaysia, where my parents live, for so many years. My 6 siblings and I got creative with cooking Malaysian food for our potluck dinners. Combine that with my love for food and a passion for creating in the kitchen and a business concept was born.
Where did your love for baking delicious food come from?
My love for baking delicious food came from flatting fresh out of high school, out of all places. Cooking was experimental but there was a tv show called Good Eats by Alton Brown that intrigued me. It got me into the science of cooking, baking and the chemistry behind it all. I like to think that’s what contributes to me producing great food.
Your menu looks incredible. What makes it so special to you?
My menu is so so special to me because everything about it reminds me of home. Not the usual suspects you’d see at Malaysian restaurants here in Aotearoa but the kind you’d see at Kopitiams (coffee shops) all around Malaysia. I have some special flavours planned for the future that are recipes from close friends and family back home in Malaysia and I’m so excited to introduce them!
The occasional product that isn’t Malaysian-inspired would usually be something that’s already special to me like chocolate cake as I have such a love for chocolate.
What has been your favourite part of Gula’s journey so far?
My favourite part has been the designing of the brand, colours, menu and all the creative aspects of it. I loved injecting my personality into Gula.
Seeing people light up when they say they haven’t had flavours like this for years also really makes me happy.
We’re so grateful that you use our packaging. What other sustainable practices have you introduced into your business?
I love what you guys do at decent! Some other sustainable practice I’ve introduced is to be as low-waste as possible with food.
Food wastage is a much bigger problem than many think and being efficient with the way I produce and store food has helped. Baking only so much a day, taking pre-orders to gauge how much I’ll need to make a weekend, and using reusable items as much as I can are all little ways to reduce my carbon footprint.
What's the best advice you can give to other self-employed business owners?
Don’t try to do it all yourself, for sure! I’m a sole trader while also working part-time to pay the bills. And while I fear being a burden to my friends and family, I’m trying to accept help more when it’s offered.
How do our Christchurch-based customers order from you?
My specials for the week are on my weekly posts on social media so definitely send me a message on Instagram or Facebook for pick-up on Saturdays. I have updates regularly on stories as well so do check me out online!
Alternatively, you can find me at The Works Market in Hornby every Sunday, 9am - 2pm.
How can our readers best support you?
Instagram - www.instagram.com/ilovegula
Facebook - www.facebook.com/ilovegula
Website - www.gula.co.nz