It never rains, but pours. This idiom rang true for Yvonne and Silvia, two of the three friends who started @lobang.aunties. Yvonne was supposed to start at her new workplace in May, but her start date kept getting delayed due to the pandemic. At the same time, Silvia had to take a pay cut at work. To continue making an income during circuit breaker, Yvonne suggested selling suan la fen (sour and spicy noodles) online which was gaining popularity in Singapore. Coming from three different industries—Hospitality, Food & Beverage and Procurement—turned out to be a good mix for running an online business. The young aunties were able to neatly divide various roles of business operations.
Unfortunately, there was a mishap when a few cartons of the noodles fell down as the logistics container was opened, and some of the stocks became dented. “We took a leap of faith with the business opportunity to sell these ‘ugly’ noodles on Carousell to reach out to our target audience—people looking for good ‘lobangs’ (Singaporean slang for opportunities). We leveraged on different channels based on their strengths and reached out to our target audience on Carousell in an informal, fun and engaging approach,” shared Yvonne.
Their hilarious, tongue-in-cheek product descriptions caught the attention of buyers. Yvonne said, “it is amazing that we have buyers who started the conversation with ‘Auntie, your captions are funny!’ and shared that they really enjoyed our engagement. It is really how we would casually speak with close friends!”
Besides commenting on their descriptions, buyers also surprised the trio with encouragement. “We had support from many Carousell users, many of which were younger buyers. Our buyers told us that it really did not bother them that the cups were dented. We had buyers who came back for repeated orders! We think that the most interesting thing was realizing that people became fans of the ‘ugly’ noodles and love the way our descriptions were created,” said Yvonne.
It was a silver lining, as their logistics troubles did not end with two more batches facing the same damage, and another batch of noodles arriving with bamboo shoots instead of the original pickled vegetables. “It seemed like we do not have much luck when it comes to cup noodles, so we will probably skip them for the time being and diversify with other products! How we deal with these situations is to always look at the brighter side of life. Like the Chinese saying, that in every crisis, there is bound to be an opportunity. This is like how our ‘special versions’ of noodles managed to catch the attention of Carousell users,” shared Yvonne.