Running business with your spouse can, in my opinion, be a gamble for your marriage.
Ideally, it's nice to do what you love with someone you love, but keeping personal and private matters separate is no easy task.
However, these 10 married couple duos who built well-known Malaysian brands prove that there is a way where there is a will.
From high school sweethearts to building a bubble tea empire / Photo credit: Tatler Malaysia
Bryan Loo and Sally Quah go way back before the idea of Tealive was probably even invented.
Bryan is the CEO of Loob Holding Sdn. Bhd., While Sally Loobs is Financial Controller, her multi-million dollar F&B business with 7 brands, most notably Tealive.
The two shared in an interview with Tatler Malaysia that they met in secondary school.
They hit it off immediately when Sally moved to his school in her hometown of Kangar, Perlis.
Last year they celebrated their 10th anniversary and the birth of their third child, Louie Loo.
While Bryan's entrepreneurial sensibility and ambition got Tealive where it is today, he credits Sally as his greatest source of strength and the perfect complement.
Today, Tealive has expanded beyond the borders of Malaysia to places like China and Vietnam.
2. Big bad wolf
The couple who read together stay together / Photo credit: BFM
Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng shared a passion for books and an urge to encourage Malaysians to read, especially non-readers.
Reading for fun was not something Andrew grew up with compared to his colleagues who came from wealthier families and shared with Tatler Malaysia.
So the two of them wanted to start a company that would make reading more accessible to Malaysians and make a contribution to society.
In 2009 they introduced their first book sale at Dataran Hamodal, PJ, with 120,000 books below the retail price shared with The Star.
Today they have up to 3 million visitors for Big Bad Wolf sales not only in Malaysia but also in other Southeast Asian countries, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.
3. Ramly burger
From cutting meat with knives at home to owning the largest meat processing factory in Malaysia / photo credit: Orang Perak
The healthy, greasy dinner that Malaysians are familiar with today was created by none other than the power couple behind Ramly burgers Ramly bin Mokni and Shala Siah binti Abdul Manap.
This burger empire has humble beginnings. Ramly and his wife wanted to introduce burger patties to Malaysians, so they started a home business in 1978, making and selling burger patties.
However, their products were initially not well received, said Ramly Astro Awani.
MARA even turned down their application for a loan of 7,000 RM as there was no demand for burgers at that time.
But with persistence and time, the duo managed to build a legendary fast food business that now helps over 30,000 micro-entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
4. Inside scoop
The couple who competed against Baskin Robbins and Häagen-Dazs / Image Credit: Inside Scoop
Sharing your love of ice cream with your spouse is one thing, but promising them an ice cream empire is another level.
Edmund Tan and Lim Shiew Li met at the University of Melbourne. Edmund was an investment banker and Shiew Li was previously an actuary.
In 2013 the two founded Inside Scoop with savings from their company time when they were still engaged.
Shiew Li even enrolled at Gelato University in Italy for three weeks to learn how to make gelato.
"Edmund made me do it," she joked in a previous interview with Vulcan Post, remembering the time he first sold her the idea of Inside Scoop.
Since opening its first store in Bangsar in 2013, Inside Scoop now has 25 stores across West Malaysia.
Blogger fourfeetnine and the ex-CEO of Nuffnang / Image Credit: FirstClasse
You may know Colony's founders Audrey Ooi and Timothy Tiah from their blog fourfeetnine and his former influencer marketing firm Nuffnang.
The couple met on Timothy’s birthday in his early twenties when Audrey had just returned from the US, she said on her blog.
Colony started out as a project for Audrey who was busy and at the time was a mom who stayed at home.
Now it's an iconic high-end coworking space with 3 offices in KL.
According to Timothy in that last interview with Vulcan Post, the business became profitable in just three months. But that brought some clashes, he told FirstClasse.
They changed from husband and wife to employer and employee, which drastically changed the dynamics of their relationship.
The couple, however, find fulfillment in being able to share this large part of their life together, which gives them more inspiration than vacationing.
MyNEWS, like Ramly Burger, is another empire that emerged from humble beginnings and that we have discussed in more detail here.
Dang Tai Luk, CEO and founder of MyNEWS, opened their 200 square meter flagship newspaper stand in 1Utama with his wife Ling Chao in December 1996.
Tai Luk still had to work full-time to finance the rental of the business as no banks would give them a loan, so Ling Chao initially ran the booth, he told The Edge.
“We came from a poor background with little capital. What we have is energy and talent, so we have to embrace it and grow, ”he shared in an interview with Astro Awani.
However, the couple believed that domestic brands could also be as big and strong as international brands. Today, MyNEWS has over 530 stores across the country and overseas.
7. Pokok KL and the Brickhouse Group
From meeting under a tree to building a cafe under a tree / Photo credit: SooPhye
Datuk Sharon Haniffa and Datin Christine Bong had a Bollywood-like love story they shared in an interview with The Edge.
They met under a tree when Sharon came across an acquaintance who introduced him to Christine. They then swapped numbers and the rest was history.
The couple first invested RM 1 million together in the start of the 200 square meter greenhouse café Pokok KL on the grounds of MAHSA University, as reported in pitIN.
In 7 years this cafe has grown into a well-known F&B brand, Brickhouse, which will soon be home to a function room, grocery store, cafes, convenience stores, catering service and a co-working space.
Last year they earned 3.9 million RM with their greenhouse café, catering and event management alone. Her notable clients include BMW, Chanel, Petronas, Sunway, and others.
How many couples would sacrifice their honeymoon to start their startup? / Photo credit: Piktochart
Goh Ai Ching and Andrea Zaggia founded Piktochart when they saw the growing demand for visually engaging web content.
The couple married the year they founded Piktochart and have been leading them together ever since. The DIY infographic platform started in a small warehouse in Penang with just 4 employees.
They sacrificed the honeymoon because they were busy flying to Silicon Valley between pitching events, their wedding, and a study / immersion trip.
"In the beginning, Piktochart didn't pay so well, so the whole team sacrificed a lot," Ai Ching previously shared with Vulcan Post.
Despite their difficult start, the couple remained stable in their startup and today Piktochart works on a team of over 50 talents and has gained over 8 million users worldwide.
9. Fashion valet
Making the love and work life she imagined possible / Image Credit: Gen T.
Vivy Yusof co-founded Fashion Valet with Fadza Anuar in 2010, two years before they tied the knot and became happily married parents with three children.
She shared with the MaGIC E-Nation last year that they realized they can help local designers get the reach they need in Malaysia's online shopping industry.
So the couple started Fashion Valet with a capital of 100,000 RM and a simple google how to start an online shopping website.
Vivy's goal to find success in both her work and love life was evident in her persistence in pursuing her business and Fadza.
When a company told her their website wouldn't be ready for 6 months, Vivy insisted they did it in 1 and it happened. When Fadza suggested they get married in two years' time, Vivy insisted that they marry themselves that year, and they did.
10. SOULED OUT
Opposites attract and stay together, as Michele and Fred prove / Photo credit: Tatler Malaysia
The restaurateurs Michele Kwok and Fred Choo are the couple behind the SOULed OUT franchise, the WIP restaurant and the Hubba Hubba Gastrobar.
The two have worked together for almost 30 years and have also brought the brand to Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.
Michele and Fred are like heaven and earth, but somehow they can complement each other despite their differences.
However, Michele shared in an interview with Tatler Malaysia: "If you ask me, I would tell all couples not to start a business together. Just don't do it. It's not easy and it hardly works."
“We're both very stubborn, but sometimes you just have to let go and let your partner do what he wants and support him. We're so busy that even if we fight, it will be over in seconds. We just have to go forward and not think about it, ”they shared in this interview.
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Doing something you love with the person you love can be worthwhile, but one should definitely be prepared for the clashes that could come with running a business with your spouse.
These 10 power couples have shown us at least outwardly that the combination of your work and your love life can work.
You may have different methods of running the business and sometimes you disagree. However, if you both share the same passion and ambition for what you do, you will find a compromise.
- You can learn more about other lists we've written here.
Selected image source: Vivy Yusof and Fadzarudin Anuar, co-founders of FashionValet / Edmund Tan and Lim Shiew Li, co-founders of Inside Scoop