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Mummyfique Sample July 2021

The Originators Series: Lily Loh of Lilo

By Dolores Au
April 10, 2019
It’s no secret that one of the most vexing problems mums face with their toddlers is the little ones’ fussy eating habits. Great if we have a little foodie in the making, one who eats all their greens, liver, fish and meats. But as most mums would testify, a foodie toddler is as rare as a salaried stay home mum. Haven’t we all sweated over trying to hide that vegetable in layers of mush or smashing those pumpkins to bits and pretending they are crushed orange candies? Well, one mum has stepped up to the challenge of getting round that hurdle and has even build a burgeoning business out of her frustrations.

Meet Lily Loh, 35, mum to Lauren Loh, 4, who inspired Lily to perfect a homemade version of the traditional anchovies powder – more popularly known as Lilo Ikan Bilis powder. “Lauren used to be a fussy eater when she started on solids. I was really panicky when she ate very little and she doesn’t seem to be putting on weight.” After remembering her mum making ikan bilis powder for her when she was young, and reading about its nutritional value, she tried those in the market. She says, “I decided to make my own after trying many versions available.”

Lily’s ikan bilis powder proved so popular among her friends that soon words spread and she realised she could build a business out of her hobby. Lilo – a play on Lily’s name – is now a thriving business with a team of three working in an NEA-approved factory churning out the sell-out products monthly. Lilo is retailing in eight stores island-wide with an online store that carries very limited quantities. Demand for Lilo Ikan Bilis Powder and Lilo Mushroom Powder has outstripped supply and Lily has had to hold off requests by supermarkets and retailers to stock her products. But even with the business in upswing, running a full time company and being an hands-on mother with no helper has taken its toll on Lily many times, with “mum’s guilt” often weighing heavily on her mind.

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Mummyfique Sample July 2021
1. Lily, what’s the toughest part of your job?

Having to be an entrepreneur, mum and wife all at the same time while trying to grow Lilo at my pace. I have to sacrifice weekends to run baby fairs or pick up stocks. Mum’s guilt is so real. There was one baby fair when my girl fell ill. While I’m blessed to have my husband to take leave to take care of my little one for that few days, it was tough to focus on work when my mind was constantly thinking about Lauren all the time. Has she had her medications on time? Has her fever has subsided? Is she eating well?

2. So how are you juggling the demands of motherhood to a young child and managing your business at the same time?

I’m winging it – every day. There were days when I would just break down in exhaustion. But I have learnt to ask for help and speak to my spouse. Having support at home is very important.

3. What’s a typical day like for you?

I will wake up to prep Lauren’s breakfast and send her to school. After which, I will return back to my home office to clear administrative work like emails, order fulfilments, accounts and online marketing.

In the afternoon, I am either delivering goods or I’ll be in my kitchen to supervise the production. I will rush home to prepare dinner for my little one and pick her up from her pre-school. It’s my happiest moment when I see Lauren’s face light up when she sees me after a long day. My husband works pretty late, so I will have dinner with my Lauren first, shower her and prep her for bedtime.

4. What advice would you give to mums who would like to embark on this entrepreneurial journey?

Speak to your family about what you have in mind because having their support is important. Balancing between work and family is challenging but it’s possible. It is also important to have realistic expectations and also to enjoy the learning journey along the way.

5. What’s your vision for Lilo?

My vision for Lilo is to scale up and to grow internationally.

During my latest baby fair, a mom whose little one had numerous operations came down to say hi and thank you. She said that Lilo has made her little one eat better. I also have cancer patients who have come forth to tell me that Lilo has been of great help in their meals. We are also working with NUH Dietetics Department as sponsors to outreach to more patients with calcium deficiency. I’m very glad that Lilo was able to give back to the society in her own way.

I intend to reach out to more busy moms who wants to cook a decent meal for their family despite tight schedules, to help patients and elderlies who need nutrient and taste boost in their meals, to be useful to any health-loving individual who simply wants to eat healthier.

Lilo products are available online at www.lilo.com.sg and Motherswork, Bumwear and Nichebabies islandwide.