Polytechnic final year student Syarah Faiqah, went from making chocolates for herself out of pure cravings to selling them in a matter of a few months.
The owner of Nama Truffle, an Instagram home-based business which she just started barely two months ago, sold out her own unique chocolate creations during this short period.
The 19-year-old told The Halal Eater: “During the circuit breaker, I was searching for nama chocolate online, but the brands I found were mostly not halal.”
“I also found it difficult to be certain of the quality of renowned brands.”
The brand she is specifically referring to is none other than Royce, a Japanese confectionery brand that is popularly known for nama chocolate.
What is nama chocolate?
Nama means raw or fresh in Japanese, and usually refers to the plentiful use of rich, fresh cream in the chocolate.
In most recipes, liqueur is added to the mixture, thus making it non-halal.
The fresh cream chocolate ganache is then poured into a baking dish, and put into a refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours to harden.
Once it is firm, it is cut into bite-sized uniform cubes and coated with cocoa powder on top.
Nama chocolate is best eaten straight out of the fridge, and is well-loved for its creamy and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Upon researching for nama chocolate recipes online, Syarah realised she could make the chocolates herself, using ingredients she could verify were halal.
As with most new businesses, Syarah’s family circle became a test bed for her initial customers.
Her creation turned out to be a success; the overwhelming consensus was that Nama Truffle is a close match to Royce, if not better.
Hobby to business out of necessity
Syarah might have made the nama chocolates to satisfy her sweet tooth cravings, but quickly decided to make a business out of it for financial reasons.
At the height of Covid-19, her father stopped working as a taxi driver, drastically affecting the family’s source of income.
Syarah, who also just started an internship, knew she had to step in to help.
Spurred on by her early success, she went on to take more orders so as to be able to earn extra income.
“Fortunately, the business gained traction after a couple of weeks of promoting it on Instagram. There were also many bulk orders, which I try to take as much as my (fridge) storage allowed,” Syarah recalls.
The space constraint means that Syarah could only make a limited number of chocolates at a time, 50 sets at maximum capacity.
She sells them at $8.90 per box (32 pieces).
More recently, she added two new items to the menu: Nama Truffle ice cream ($15 per pint) and Cheese Platter (from $20).
Not always smooth as chocolate
We were impressed not so much with Syarah’s young age as the character and maturity of the soft-spoken business owner.
Yet, Syarah was quick to point out that anything worth doing does not come without challenges.
And Syarah has definitely faced her fair share of challenges.
For one, she is busy with the internship that takes up her weekdays, leaving only some week nights and the weekends to fulfil orders.
Whilst her mum does step in to help out with making the chocolate, “she still needs my supervision,” Syarah says.
Operating out of a home kitchen also has its limitations.
For instance, cutting the chocolate on the kitchen countertop is not ideal because it is not cold enough, resulting in the chocolate melting faster than she could cut them.
As nama chocolate is mainly made of pure dark chocolate, it is in a more natural state and tends to melt faster than milk or white chocolate.
Adding milk, sugar, fats and other ingredients slows melting because these ingredients have different melting points.
To circumvent this problem, Syarah cuts the chocolate on a marble slab in an air-conditioned room as marble is a better conductor of heat.
Milking chocolate for as long as possible
Having sold out her pre-orders since launch, Syarah has gained the confidence that her business will continue to grow and plans to keep it running for as long as she can.
This is despite the fact that she has a full time job waiting post-graduation in February next year.
For Syarah, nothing is certain in today’s economical climate.
Whilst she never expected to make a business out of her past-time, it seems to be the silver lining in these trying times so she hopes to be able to keep it as a side hustle while she pursue a full-time career.
To place an order, fill up the order form on @namatruffle. Take note that orders are for weekends only.
Photos by Nama Truffle.