Starting a cheese platter business is a venture Jessy Chahal has wanted to take on since giving birth to her second child in 2018. With a background as a Senior TV Anchor at BERNAMA and founder of a boutique media agency, she’s also dabbled in the F&B space via a restaurant cum cocktail bar, Elephant Rock TTDI.
Clearly, her schedule never permitted the time to start yet another business alone.
“Cheese Platter KL (CPKL) would become an idea that sat dormant for about a year. To ensure this would be reality someday, I created an Instagram account which was a form of commitment, I guess,” Jessy recalled.
Then MCO1.0 came around, and it was her opportunity to start. So, she roped in her homemaker friends, Harpreet Kaur and Jasveen Bariar. With a capital of RM1,000, the trio eventually launched the business together to provide customers with affordable bespoke cheese platters.
Within 7 months of launching in December 2020, CPKL reached profitability and was generating revenue of nearly six figures.
Editor’s Update: The above paragraph originally misreported that the 6-figure sum was profit based on information provided by the interviewee. It has now been edited for clarity that the sum mentioned is not profit, but revenue.
A crowded plate
To keep prices affordable for the end customer, CPKL sources ingredients and condiments directly from suppliers. CPKL’s cheese platters range from RM100-RM490 depending on the serving size chosen, meant for 1-2 pax to 10-15 pax.
However, when scouring online for other cheese platter sellers, I found that CPKL’s prices aren’t actually the cheapest. For example, Platters KL has options that cost as low as RM34 for its 1 pax offering, and RM74 for 2 pax, while its largest and most costly platter at RM175 feeds 5-6.
Meanwhile, KEJU by Carmen has more or less the same pricing range as CPKL, with prices ranging from RM100-RM590 for various sizes.
Of course, it is worth noting that Platters KL’s boxes appear significantly smaller in size, with fewer accompaniments offered with the cheeses and cold cuts compared to CPKL’s.
KEJU by Carmen would be a closer competitor, and for both businesses’ prices, it’s safe to conclude that the market price for cheese platters averages within the RM100-RM500 range.
It’s a small sample amidst the many more competitors out there, but these are the brands stating their prices that we could actually find. Other factors that may contribute to the brands’ varying price points are also the quality of their meats, cheeses, fruits, and packaging.
“We feel the narrative and the quality, presentation, pricing, and customer service are all factors that make us stand out,” said CPKL’s team on their place in the market. “Most importantly, the proof is in the fact that our customers return.”
Building customers’ trust
Jessy shared that CPKL has hit their highest sales of 300 orders in a month in August 2021, averaging around 10 orders per day.
CPKL’s marketing strategies were fully reliant on social media, with its team churning out content every day to reach potential customers.
By doing so, they saw steady organic growth, first from family and friends, then from customers who were looking for unique yet affordable cheese platters. Jessy believes that their support from customers is likely due to the team’s attention to customer service.
“Though we recommend a 24-hour notice period so that we can prepare the freshest ingredients, we have even taken last-minute orders for customers who really needed divine intervention,” Jessy joked.
While a challenge, the team addressed that such high turnover rates have prepared them in handling such last-minute requests. Thus, enough product stock is procured from suppliers on a weekly basis.
Launching in December was likely an opportune time for CPKL as well. It would have been able to attract the Christmas crowd, who’d be ordering the platters as a centrepiece for festive meals at home.
Being an option for customers in a crowded space where small-time Instagram sellers have limited slots for orders, CPKL could leverage such festivities. Not to mention, CPKL brands its cheese platters as halal, giving customers confidence that their platters are pork-free, which could open it up to the Muslim market too.
Furthermore, it can be said that the brand has also built customer’s trust by keeping their prices the same throughout festive seasons. “We have not, up till this point, escalated prices to merely cash in,” they stated.
The main goal of CPKL is to transform into a social enterprise that empowers homemakers, by enabling them to work from home while earning a source of income.
If the CPKL team wants to scale up its production, this is one way they can acquire manpower while benefitting others. The only concern then might be quality control, but as long as the trio has set specific standards and processes in place, that shouldn’t be an issue.
- You can learn more about Cheese Platter KL here.
- You can read about more Malaysian F&B brands we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Jessy Chahal, Harpreet Kaur, and Jasveen Bariar, co-founders of Cheese Platter KL