In late March this year, Nur Halimah launched her flavoured butter business. However, a week into the business, a rule prohibiting home businesses from operating to curb COVID-19 transmission was imposed by the government.
At the heart of the rule is a prohibition on home businesses that require delivery or pickup, which applied pretty much to all these businesses.
Instead of allowing the ban to affect the business she co-founded with her husband Muhammad Najib, Nur used the time to do R&D, tweaked her product recipes, and strategised on how to reach more customers.
Before that though, a range of events unfolded that led to her starting the business.
First, Nur’s career started in the advertising field post-graduation where she worked on design projects.
She then switched to a role in corporate communications in the mental health industry which she stayed for 10 years. Two years ago, Nur left the working world altogether to start a family with Najib who came from an IT background.
Neither one of them was culinary trained or had experience in F&B, however that did not deter them from dipping their toes in the world of F&B. In fact, Nur’s experience in design came in handy towards the success of the business later on.
Being avid foodies sparked the husband and wife duo’s interest in food, particularly artisanal foods such as breads, cheeses, and cured meats. However, these items are often non-halal or made of doubtful ingredients. “We watched Masterchef and wanted to re-create the foods in our kitchen,” she recalls.
At the same time, Nur discovered that there is a market of people in their 20s to 40s who are curious about unique foods, and do not mind spending more for quality premium items as long as they are halal.
Coupled with this upward trend of Muslim consumers with more adventurous taste buds, Nur and Najib decided to start The Good Fat, a home-based Instagram business that hopes to make artisan foods more accessible.
Prior to settling on flavoured butters as a flagship product, the owners dabbled in other newfangled cooking methods such as curing meats and fermentation.
However, butter proved to be the winning idea for an introductory product as its applications are more versatile. This fact would be all too apparent as Nur later discovered from her customers.
Some might say that the government ban on home-based businesses was to be expected, but no one could have anticipated this incident to come out of the circuit breaker: baking supplies selling out everywhere. Well, the supermarkets definitely didn’t.
This was largely due to the surge of a baking frenzy brought on by the circuit breaker measures and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which falls on May 24. Almost overnight, Instagram feeds were inundated with home-baked sourdough breads, cakes, buns and the likes.
Not only were home-based businesses unable to operate, they faced the likelihood of empty shelves when they could resume business once again.
However, the silver lining, for The Good Fat at least, was that people were looking for things to go with their freshly baked bread.
And butter was the perfect match. Especially flavoured butter because smothering your swanky sourdough toast with table butter is just so…basic.
The serendipitous turn of events means business for The Good Fat and orders began to pick up. “Flour, eggs all sold out,” Nur recalls.
“When people saw our halal butters, they bought them to eat with their sourdough bread, buns and bagels. That’s the beginning of how The Good Fat got more known. Timing was just nice for The Good Fat.”Nur on the surge in demand for her products
The Good Fat also partnered with home-based bakers to introduce their butters alongside sourdough breads. Aptly named Bread & Butter, the bundled promotions include one butter and one sourdough bread.
This helped to expose The Good Fat to a wider audience who might have not heard of them before. Response for these promotions were so popular, they got sold out quickly.
Initially, Nur partnered with one baker. However, by its third run, Nur had to partner with two bakers to keep up with the demand.
A nice spread
The Good Fat’s current lineup of butters consists of three unique flavours: Kombu, Black Garlic and Spiced Miso. They come in 220g tubs and cost $18 per tub.
Kombu is a type of kelp and is widely claimed to be all about umami, that delicious savoury flavour or fifth taste. It is often used in Japanese and Korean cooking.
In butter form, it melts in the mouth with a blend of sweetness and saltiness. It leaves a savoury after-taste which was comforting, light and not overpowering and definitely leaves you wanting more.
Black garlic is simply regular garlic that is aged until the cloves turn black and develop a smooth, sticky texture that is similar to roasted garlic. It also has emerged as some kind of a superfood due to its many biological functions like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity.
The black garlic butter is creamy and smokey, and hits you with a hint of earthiness.
The newest flavour on the menu, the Spiced Miso butter is inspired by the traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. Unlike normal miso, spiced miso has a more assertive, fiery flavour which we imagine would pair well with seafood.
Like a hot knife through butter
Whilst the emergence of home bakers saw The Good Fat’s butters smothered on many sourdough toasts, Nur did not expect the butters to also be used in cooking.
“People started coming up with their own recipes, putting the butters into pasta, and on grilled prawns and steaks,” Nur recalls. She became aware of her butters being used in the wild through images that her customers tagged her on Instagram.
Seeing people exploring foods with the butters is not only gratifying, but inspiring, for them too. “We tried Hokkaido butter clams inspired by a customer. The butter definitely elevated the taste of normal seafood.”
This led Nur to amp up The Good Fat’s Instagram feed to feature the butters’ many uses beyond just as a spread on toast.
This was also where her design skills showed. Nur understands that to increase awareness of her product, education is key. Hence, she ensured that beautiful images of the butters incorporated into many types of food are shown on the feed.
The best way to educate the target audience is actually visual representation of the food, how it is meant to be eaten beyond just on bread or toast. There’s actually more to it. Experiment with more.
Even so, these flavours might still be very unfamiliar to the average Singaporean foodie. When asked how would Nur describe her products to people, she said “The Good Fat is for people who are curious about foods in general. Consider us an alternative to your every day table butters.”
To place an order, fill up the order form on @the.goodfat.