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IN GOOD TASTE

→ Each of Curious Elephant’s products

has a nostalgic story behind it, with founder MELODY MOK RELIVING GROWING UP IN THE DIVERSELY CUISINE-RICH SYDNEY, to visits to her family in Hong

Kong, and traveling in Asia.

Melody Mok FOUNDER

}Curious Elephant currently sells

B

eing made redundant in her job in the hospitality sector amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 is what led Melody Mok to launch Curious Elephant, a Dubai-based enterprise that makes handcrafted, gourmet Asian sauces that are aimed at bringing the authentic flavors of the Far East to one’s home kitchen in the UAE. But that’s not to say the business she founded is something that came up on the spur of a moment- on the contrary, Mok says her enterprise was actually a long while coming. “I’d always had a dream to start my own business in the food industry, which is where my passion lies,” Mok says. “The concept of Curious Elephant is something that had been brewing in the back of my mind for a few years, but I’d never taken the step to turn it into a reality, due to my 9-5 job.”

52 / E N T R E P R E N E U R . C O M / August 2021

three different kinds of sauces: these include the Chinese chili oil with Sichuan pepper and peanut, the Vietnamese chili sauce with lemongrass and garlic, and the Malaysian chili sambal with shrimp and kaffir lime. All three have their own particular characteristics, but the one thing uniting them all is the surety that each of them will almost certainly elevate whatever kind of cooking you use them in- and that’s not me who’s saying it, those reviews come from Curious Elephant’s customers. “We officially launched on June 26, 2020 and the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” Mok says. “A lot of our customers initially heard about us through social media and from our stall at Ripe Market. Our orders continue to grow month on month, and we are now stocked in three retail outlets across Dubai, with a fourth outlet imminent. We have also done a few special collaborations with other local brands, and the response was so positive that the specials have been turned into permanent products.”

An Australian citizen, Mok admits that the process of kicking off Curious Elephant was quite a strenuous one, with a lot of time spent on research and study. “It was very challenging in the beginning, as setting up a legally-operational business obviously has significant costs associated with it, especially when you are starting out with a brand new concept that doesn’t have any established customer base at all- so, you are starting off with zero revenue, and some significant setup costs,” she explains. “It’s also not only the cost that has to be considered, as the setup process in the UAE is very different to back in Australia, so a lot of hours went into researching the processes, legal requirements, health and safety compliance, municipality requirements, etc. Fortunately, having already been working in the industry in the UAE for six years, I had friends that offered their guidance on certain topics, and also met other people along the way that were in similar phases of starting up, and we were able to support each other.”

IMAGES COURTESY CURIOUS ELEPHANT

CURIOUS ELEPHANT

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