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KINIBIZ Siblings Theresa Lim and Mei Lim founded the Sisters Crispy Popiah franchise in 2003 with their first outlet in the upmarket surroundings of the Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur but the history of the business is rooted in the much humbler beginnings of their family.

“The popiah recipe was created by our mother when we were very young. She used to sell mixed rice at a roadside stall in Jalan Ipoh. When we grew older, we moved to a wet market, which is now called Imbi Market near the Tun Razak Exchange.

I followed my mother into the business in 1996 when I was just 16 years old. I loved eating popiah. She taught me how to make them. She gave me all the ingredients and created a lot of recipes. My grandmother also loved to make popiah as well as other traditional chinese cakes. Gradually, I experimented with other popiah recipes to suit my tastes,” said Mei, who is in charge of the production and procurement in the business.

The Lim sisters always had the ambition to take their business to the next level, but it took almost a decade for their plans to come to fruition.

“We talked about it for about 10 years. After Imbi Market, we sold popiah at the Pasar Malam (night market) for two years. Then in 2003, I told my sister that there was an opening in Mid Valley and we should grab the opportunity. I saw the potential for us to offer a home cooked product in a shopping mall environment, which was rare at the time. That was the basic idea,” said Theresa, who oversees operations and marketing of the business.

Both sisters were eager and excited. It did not take them too long to kick-start their venture into shopping malls. They started with about RM20,000 capital.

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