Savour these favours

A dash of humour, plenty of hard work and lots of team effort — these are the magic ingredients needed to run two successful businesses.

Just ask Veronica Zuzarte, 48, the director of a Singaporean public relations company Sixth Sense and online customised gift boutique Do Me A Favour.

The idea for her second business, Do Me A Favour, started brewing six years ago when one of her partners at Sixth Sense, Loh Hsian Ming, was preparing for her wedding ceremony.

Loh wanted to give her guests customised edible wedding favours, but a search around the island for a company which provided such a service proved fruitless. She ended up ordering customised mints from the United States.

It was then that Zuzarte and Loh realised that there was a gap to be filled in the wedding favour industry.

The pair, together with their two other partners at Sixth Sense, conducted snap surveys to see if customised edible wedding favours would sell.

“Edible wedding favours are a nice memento for guests to take away, and they won’t collect dust on the shelves. They’re meant for guests to eat and enjoy,” says Zuzarte.

Encouraged by the positive results, the Sixth Sense team decided to forge ahead with the new business idea in 2008.

First steps

Starting a new business from scratch was challenging, she says.

First, they had to decide on the items that would go into the catalogue.

Not every food item was suitable as a wedding favour, says Zuzarte. For example, cupcakes are not feasible because they damage easily, require refrigeration and may spoil if kept for too long.

“Food safety is key. We don’t want anyone ending up with a stale or mouldy product,” she explains.

Quality cannot be compromised either. The team’s drive to provide the clients with the best eventually saw items like freshly baked cookies, imported honey, gourmet teas and premium cocktail mixers introduced into the catalogue.

They also had to hunt for suppliers who could provide them with top-quality food, design and packaging materials.

To get business rolling, cold calls were made to wedding planners. This was where their expertise in public relations came in handy.

Approaching wedding planners was a logical first step, says Zuzarte.

Brides who were looking for wedding favours could now be told — by their wedding planners — that they had an option of giving their guests unique food treats.

Zuzarte’s passion for the business was fuelled further when she became a bride two years ago. This, she says, helped her to understand the importance of a thoughtful wedding favour.

Team spirit

Today, Do Me A Favour does more than just weddings. It also has personalised favours for a variety of occasions, like baby showers, birthdays and corporate events.

Juggling two growing businesses is tough, says Zuzarte. Much of her time is dedicated to her public relations company, which turns nine this year.

Despite this, Zuzarte is dedicated to perfecting every single order placed with the food-centric gift store. She even stays up past midnight to do so.

Thankfully, she is not alone.

“It’s a team effort,” she says. Whenever orders come in, all the Sixth Sense partners will help put all the customised items together.

“Many hands make light work,” she says. “It’s actually very therapeutic. As we’re tying ribbons and sticking stickers, we have great and meaningful chats.”

Her happiest moments are when the favours are well-received.

“It makes me feel that the effort was all worth it,” she says. - SOURCE: ST/ANN