Interview with Cheryl Ho, Founder of The Naked Lunch Box
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I used run an e-commerce site retailing various imported organic goods as well as some local artisan food. I had learnt a little about product manufacturing and realised that a lot of products contain pretty bad ingredients including our food products. Upon learning more about food and ingredients, I realised that it is pretty difficult to eat healthy in Malaysia as all the options are either inconvenient or expensive. I decided to try making my own lunchboxes early in 2014 to check out the response and it was great! I officially started TNLB in August 2014 and we have been receiving such great responses from people from all over!
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
When we started in August, I used to run this business from my home where I live with my family. I would put all the ingredients in the common refrigerator and find them missing the next day. Either my dad would have eaten one of my apples or my sister had used my avocados for her toast. Ha ha... I had to label them or make an announcement every day about not touching the fresh produce in a certain section of the kitchen.
What's the best/ worst part of your job?
Let's start with the worst. It's really hard to juggle everything in a small business from cooking to cleaning to marketing, branding and customer service. It can be taxing and take up all of your time 24/7. But the best part about it is that it is very very fulfilling. We get personal messages from customers thanking us for their healthy meals and saying they will support us all the way. It keeps us going!
What's your personal favourite lunch box?
I personally love our sandwiches. Maybe because I love to eat bread (guilty) :) We don't have any sandwiches for this month though. We're working on an upgrade for the coming months!
What's one of the craziest things you've seen behind the scenes?
Hm... I would say that things in the kitchen can be absolutely crazy as we are not trained chefs and have not had any form of professional training. You can feel the pressure because nobody is talking. Everyone is working at the speed of lighting to get all the lunchboxes prepared on time. It feels like a silent Hell's Kitchen.
What's something you'd like guests to know about The Naked Lunch Box?
We don't use any processed sauces, syrups or flavouring in our food. We try our best to avoid them even though it's sometimes hard to achieve the flavour that you want without these ingredients. For us however, it's important that our customers get the best nutrients from fresh produce. We only use healthy oils and we avoid dairy and sugar as well.
What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
We're trying to use better and fresher ingredients for our lunch boxes. We are working on making a whole lot of items from scratch. We're still testing and if all goes well, we will consider selling them as separate products! We want to be completely 'naked' from all the nasty stuff.