Secret tricks to make life in Malaysia easier

Sara Khong, founder of JewelPie. - Pictures by Choo Choy May & and courtesy of JewelPie
Sara Khong, founder of JewelPie. - Pictures by Choo Choy May & and courtesy of JewelPie

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 - It’s not easy being a typical Generation Y living in the city. More often than not, young working adults often find themselves eating at a restaurant they can’t afford, or ordering unhealthy takeaway due to their hectic lifestyles. No more homecooked food by Mum because living on your own mean it’s up to you to do your own dishes, iron clothes, mop the floor, prepare meals and scrub the toilet.

Founder of homemaking lifehack site JewelPie (www.jewelpie.com), Sara Khong could relate to all that. The 27-year-old law graduate owns an online  fashion accessories company that took up a lot of her time. Five years ago, she moved out and because she was working seven days a week, she had no time to prepare wholesome meals.

Her solution was to eat takeaway pizza everyday. “At the busiest point of my life I was ordering pizza delivery every day. The buy-one-free-one pizza was very convenient for me so I would have pizza every meal for a few days!”

It came to a point that she felt sick, and on top of that, her house was in a mess. “It was no longer a home. It was dirty and I didn’t even know how to use the washing machine,” she recalled, saying that when she lived at home, her mother used to do the household chores.

During that period, she also lost a lot of weight. Realising that she could not live like that anymore, she decided to learn how to make quick and easy meals.

Download a free e-book from http://jewelpie.com now!
Download a free e-book from http://jewelpie.com now!

Eventually, she learned how to cook and clean - finding shortcuts and simple solutions to fit her busy schedule.

She began to post photos of her homemade dishes online on social media and her friends encouraged her to share her life hacks, or shortcuts to increase efficiency.

Khong thought about it and she decided to help fellow Malaysians with helpful tips by starting JewelPie, giving tutorials and step-by-step guides on how to live a healthier, simpler life.

Tutorials like ‘Quick Petai Pizza in 15 minutes’, ‘Five life hacks for breakfast ttoast’, ‘How to have beautiful blown hair...fast!’ and ‘What to wear on a sightseeing and makan trip’ are some of the articles Khong have on her site. She also reviews products on her site. Topics covering food, home living, party tips, health, fashion style, technology and how-to guides provide tips and tricks for both the bachelor living alone and the homemaker alike.

Colour code your keys to differentiate them!
Colour code your keys to differentiate them!
All you need is a myriad of nail varnish in colours you like
All you need is a myriad of nail varnish in colours you like

Were her parents unhappy that she didn’t become a lawyer but ended up doing an online site instead? “My late father was a businessman and he was happy that I started a business on my own. Also, it was something I wanted to do and was passionate about. I love fashion and I didn’t want to be a lawyer. Imagine wearing black and white everyday!” said Khong who started her business right after graduating.

Currently, she still has her fashion accessories online shop but she’s focusing more on JewelPie. The response has been good so far, with approximately 30 per cent growth in the number of visitors every month according to her. The site was launched this January and if you search ‘Maggi Mee Goreng’ you will find JewelPie the top hit on Google search.

JewelPie is a homegrown site that teaches you simple life hacks and recipes like this Rainbow Roasted Vegetables (left). If you’re a fan of petai, you’ve got to try out this Petai Pizza recipe! (right)
JewelPie is a homegrown site that teaches you simple life hacks and recipes like this Rainbow Roasted Vegetables (left). If you’re a fan of petai, you’ve got to try out this Petai Pizza recipe! (right)

So far, she has two full-time writers and contributors for JewelPie. Her future plans for the site is to have video tutorials as well. Khong believes in honesty and ethics. This is reinforced through an ethics statement on her website. Although she has had requests from advertisers, she said she would choose the brands carefully and they have to be brands that she actually like.

Sara Khong also does product reviews - check out this awesome onion cutter!
Sara Khong also does product reviews - check out this awesome onion cutter!

Currently, the site is fully self-funded but in the future, Khong plans to have partnerships with brands. “We will only partner with brands that are in line with our goals and relevant to our readers.” She also intends to practice full disclosure of any sponsorship deals.

In addition, JewelPie also offers free e-books or step-by-step guides created by Khong for her readers. The first e-book she published is Cook Faster - a guide on making fast, easy meals. Her upcoming e-book is about technology.

Craving for ice cream? Try this peanut butter banana ice-cream recipe by JewelPie! (left). This Watermelon Bowl life hack would make a great punch bowl for parties (right).
Craving for ice cream? Try this peanut butter banana ice-cream recipe by JewelPie! (left). This Watermelon Bowl life hack would make a great punch bowl for parties (right).

Why the name JewelPie? “I was thinking of names for the site. I thought of easyhomemaking.com but who would go to a site like that? I know I wouldn’t!” laughs Khong. In the end, she came up with jewels as they were used in home decor, and something deliciously homemade like pies.

The enterprising young woman says that the site is about promoting work-life balance so she has to keep herself in check too when she runs her business.

Majority of the time, the things she upload on JewelPie are things she does anyway for her home. “It’s my lifestyle and it’s something personal,” said Khong, on what differentiates it from other sites.

This story was first published in Crave in the print edition of The Malay Mail on October 31, 2013.

JewelPie founder Sara Khong learned how to DIY and cook when she started living on her own
JewelPie founder Sara Khong learned how to DIY and cook when she started living on her own

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