Kha Mern grew up in a household with parents who every day fed the stray dogs that roamed their neighborhood and even took them to the vet to be vaccinated and neutered.
It's no surprise that Kha Mern later did the same. A recent college graduate, she ran a design studio with her friends and fed strays with homemade treats for pets, a move that eventually led to her founding ZOKZOK.
A name that calls for strays
Feeding the strays that run around their neighborhood / Photo credit: ZOKZOK
After Kha Mern received a small dehydrator from an aunt who bought it years ago but left it unused, he began to experiment with it. She first dehydrated fruits and vegetables as nutritious snacks for herself and shortly thereafter tried to make dry meat for her own dog kiwi.
At the same time, her parents adopted 2 puppies after rescuing them from the drain at a street vendor center. Now, with 3 furry members at home, Kha Mern realized that it would be a good time to make more goodies for them, mainly to cut the cost of such purchases.
She researched different types of fruits, vegetables, and meats that could be fed to pets, and played around with the various settings on her dehydrator. With her 3 dogs and all the strays outside, Kha Mern kept experimenting before finally figuring the goodies were good enough to sell; ZOKZOK was launched on August 6, 2020.
The name "ZOKZOK" is an onomatopoeic painting of the sound that Kha Mern makes when he calls out to stray animals, which they often speak to when they hear it.
An outlet for creativity
With simple ingredients such as broccoli, anchovies, carrots and various types of meat, all ZOKZOK treats are suitable for people and do not contain any additional preservatives.
However, it is worth noting that the healthy pet food industry in Malaysia is lucrative, which means that many other local brands are benefiting from it too, one of the most popular being Barkery Oven.
Kha Mern is well aware of this and stated that as well as trying to run with the big dogs, ZOKZOK acts as an outlet for creativity in their design team.
Your product photography tells a story / image source: ZOKZOK
So if you scroll through ZOKZOK's Instagram or website, you will find that product photography is characterized by the way it paints miniature landscapes.You will find small cats fishing for giant anchovies or small dogs climbing a mountain of broccoli.
“We are people who enjoy art and design. We take (this business) as a challenge and as a medium to showcase all of our skills, ”said Kha Mern. While it's a unique way to grab customers' attention, the team also believes they can make pet treats look just as appetizing as human food.
“We love to spend time discovering and creating. It's fun to try out all the options for ZOKZOK. Business gives us the opportunity to expand our passions; it will be one of our lifelong projects that we are working on, ”she added.
Everything in the content
Since the design studio was already equipped with the production equipment for photography and film, ZOKZOK could be set up on a tight budget. Therefore, their capital of RM3,000 was spent building their online shop and investing in an industrial dehydrator to produce larger quantities at the same time.
Starting an online business saves them the costly cost of opening a retail store, but it meant that building enough visibility to reach customers wasn't easy. So the team persevered and focused on building their social media presence.
“Honestly, it really depends on your social media content. The hardest thing for us is to consistently produce good content (posts, stories, etc.), especially during the pandemic where it is almost impossible to reach offline customers, ”explains Kha Mern and she believes that every online seller has theirs Can understand experiences.
"Fortunately, we have some customers who appreciated our efforts, bought back our products and recommended them to others." The graphic designer humbly announced that ZOKZOK's numbers have not been all that outstanding, but added that since September 2020 around 1,056 packs were sold.
Treats are dehydrated and packaged / Photo credit: ZOKZOK
The made-to-order treats from ZOKZOK are sold for RM5-RM20 per pack. The volume in each package can be different, since vegetables and anchovies have a large content but are light in weight. This is why vegetables are packed in 20 g and 50 g variants, anchovies in 25 g and 60 g variants and meat jerkies in 50 g and 100 g bags.
Over the next 3 years, Kha Mern shared that the team is committed to bringing more healthy goodies to our furry friends and exploring more design options for ZOKZOK.
- Find out more about ZOKZOK here.
- You can find more information on other Malaysian startups here.
Photo credit: Kha Mern, founder of ZOKZOK