Malaysian retiree promotes her homemade chapatis on social media

  • Seniors Premium
  • Friday, 17 Dec 2021

Amarjit is among many senior citizens who have embraced technology with open arms. Photos: Diane Lee

When Amarjit Kaur Sran retired as a teacher five years ago, she signed herself up as a student in several online marketing courses so that she could launch her Second Act – selling delicious home Punjabi cooked food.

The former English teacher from Sentul’s SM (L) Methodist is among many senior citizens who are embracing technology with open arms.

The pandemic was an opportune time for the grandmother of two to enrol in the marketing courses, and she’s using what she learnt to promote her food on social media.

Every alternate day, she uploads photos of her chapatis, dal, butter chicken and more on her Instagram and also videos on TikTok.

Like many budding entrepreneurs, she realises that social media is one of the most effective ways to promote her year-old home business.

After attending a few online courses, Amarjit is now able to promote her home-cooked Punjabi food on social media. Photo: Amarjit Kaur Sran After attending a few online courses, Amarjit is now able to promote her home-cooked Punjabi food on social media. Photo: Amarjit Kaur Sran

“I have observed the impact social media has on people, and I do think it’s the fastest way to promote things.

“Since the pandemic, more Malaysians are on their phones and laptops and especially so during the movement control order period when people relied on their devices for news, e-shopping and food delivery,” said Amarjit who lives in Rawang, Kuala Lumpur.

Although she’s keen on using her newly-acquired online skills to promote her business, the pensioner says starting her business was a way to keep active in her twilight years.

She reckons that anyone can learn new skills on social media platforms regardless of their age. All it takes is passion and determination, Amarjit says.

“Age is just a number, everyone and anyone can do anything if you put your heart and mind to it. Taking the first step is always difficult but with the knowledge and skills, anything is possible,” said Amarjit.

She got her first taste of business in 2019, when she sold her chapatis on Facebook groups like Caring Moms and Winner’s Innovative Empowerment Network (WIEN) Group My. Last year, she launched Amarjit’s Kitchen.

It is important for senior citizens to keep active even after retirement. It is important for senior citizens to keep active even after retirement.

Seniors embracing technology

A 2016 study by Dallas’ University of Texas found that older adults with busy lifestyles enjoy better cognitive function than their less active peers. The research showed senior citizens who participated in a busy daily lifestyle showed improved working memory, reasoning, and vocabulary and a superior brain processing speed.

When she first tried to launch her online business, Amarjit fumbled as she didn’t know how to market her products. Her photo captions, IGTV (Instagram videos) video and reels weren’t creative enough to capture her target audience, she shared.

“Although I already had an Instagram account, I wasn’t promoting my page the right way. At the start, I turned to Google to learn how to upload posts. Most of the time, certain posts couldn’t catch any viewers attention and I felt disheartened and felt that I had wasted a lot of time.”

So, during the first movement control order, she decided to sign up for the online marketing courses that she saw on some Facebook groups.

“I signed up for several courses: TikTok Marketing For Business, Insta As Easy As ABC, Facebook Marketing and Passion for Business, all at very affordable rates. After completing the courses, I understood the workings of Instagram better.

“I also learned about branding, algorithms and logo designing. Once I changed my business strategy, my posts began to get more views. My reach was better and that gave my confidence a boost and today, I am receiving more orders from Instagram,” shared Amarjit.

Amarjit’s husband Dr Bhagwan has been supportive of her throughout her journey.Amarjit’s husband Dr Bhagwan has been supportive of her throughout her journey.

She’s also benefited from the many free marketing tutorials on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

“I started going through the groups on Facebook, learned from what others were doing, observed, never copied but followed closely, did numerous trials and errors, especially during the live sessions. For example, I joined the Blue Spoon Community Of Home Cooks, Chefs And Bakers Facebook Group and learned so much from their Zoom sessions, especially on how to promote my chapatis on a zero budget.

“Over time, I managed to promote my products and reach my target audience. Today, I have returning customers, new customers and referrals every week. The support is just overwhelming,” says Amarjit.

She says that she’s blessed that her husband Dr Bhagwan Singh, 65, and two children, Dr Shereen Kaur, 35, and Dr Rasween Singh, 30, have been supportive throughout her journey from teacher to businesswoman.

Amarjit is grateful her mother Sarjit (right) lends a helping hand with her food business. Photos: Amarjit Kaur Sran Amarjit is grateful her mother Sarjit (right) lends a helping hand with her food business. Photos: Amarjit Kaur Sran

Her mother, Sarjit Kaur, 80, who lives with her, also helps her with her prep work when she cooks as well as with labeling the orders that go out. Amarjit says her mother’s support has further fuelled her determination to work harder.

“My family members let me do what pleases me and never interfere with my passion and dreams. They allow me the space and time to spread my wings as far and wide as I wish in my quest for knowledge.

“I do have help in deliveries from regular runners but sometimes my husband and son also turn runners for me. For this, I am very fortunate and blessed.”

Learning on the go

Amarjit admits that running a business has not been a bed of roses.

Apart from making sure that the quality of her food is constant, there are delivery issues that arise. She also has to be careful not to overlook order.

Add to that, standing for hours rolling chapatis sometimes leaves Amarjit with body aches.

“I have had my fair share of ruined recipes, burnt chapatis, late orders, forgotten orders, and unsatisfied customers. But, I take it all in my stride and I’ve learnt from every mistake and negative comment and strive to become better and more organised in my kitchen,” explained Amarjit, who also enjoys gardening, reading and making arts and crafts during her free time.

She reckons her persistence and having the right mindset is from her forty-odd years’ as a teacher.

“Teachers are grounded, consistent and disciplined. They have the drive and push to keep going regardless of the challenges. Even though I had my “want to give up days”, I continued and persevered,” said Amarjit, citing trainer and author Jagjeet Singh as her idol.

Amarjit thinks the world of the her idol because “she’s a pro at social media even though she’s in her 80s.”

She encourages senior citizens to move forward with the times.

“The new norm is social media, so how do we run away from it? For the latest TV series or movies, it’s Netflix, and for the latest news, it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and news portals. There is no escape, so you join the crowd or lose out. Since the pandemic, Malaysians have turned to online shopping, e-learning, and even family gatherings organised via Facetime, Zoom and Google Meet.

“We need to move with the times, or we will be left behind. Today social media is the way to go; everyone is on social media.

There are so many learning opportunities for us out there. You need to get up and get going or be prepared to be left behind,” she concluded.

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