We had the good fortune of connecting with Marta Ade and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marta, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
From the beginning, I figured that the journey to starting a business requires hard work from the start. Going through struggles, through trials and errors, and finding the right formula might possibly be the hardest part of a business. Commitment. Commitment is also an important aspect in small business. I have multiple experiences in small business in Malaysia, where I established two small eateries/restaurants. It was hard, but it was manageable.
Coming to America as refugees, I thought about how I can contribute to society by having a small business. Especially now, with 6 kids, I have to find a way to build the foundation and teach my children a way to build their economy. I thought, “well, if I could do it then, then surely I can now” and just got started. At first we had an interest in establishing a restaurant, but then as you know, different countries require different rules. We decided to change our plans and decided to try to establish a grocery store instead.
I won’t say that we completely planned out this idea; however we did have a rough outline of how we wanted our business to be like. We saw an opportunity and grabbed it. Unfortunately, a worldwide pandemic spurred and slowed down our plans. We had a rocky start, but we are trying to keep on building. We have had arguments, threats, competition, heartbreak… we have to keep going. After all, what’s a business without commitment?
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are Kedai Halal Asia, a grocery store under our company, EM & EM Asian Grocery LLC. We work to provide halal Southeast Asian groceries to serve our Southeast Asian community. We decided to open our own business because we realize that there isn’t a lot of diversity in terms of food and groceries in our area. It’s especially hard to find South Asian groceries, much less the halal ones. I’d like to mention that “halal’ means ‘pure’ or ‘permitted/lawful’ and is safe for consumption, which means that it is not only limited to Muslims and that everyone can consume them.
What I’m proud of the most is that despite having to come to this country as refugees eight years ago, we were still able to establish a small business. This is a big achievement because this proves that refugees can accomplish something that most people couldn’t, given the right circumstances.
I am incredibly grateful for the tremendous support that we received, despite all of us being affected by the pandemic. We had grown a lot in the past year, both customer-wise and expansion-wise. We are located inside the Stone Mountain Mall (previously International Trade Mall) where we could meet all kinds of people from different backgrounds. It was a tough ride, especially in getting sales, but now we have a loyal customer base that’s growing continually. From inviting friends and family to come and shop in our business to having people knowingly search up our name, it feels unbelievable. I hope my children are able to continue this business and pass it on to generations to come.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d say the Stone Mountain Park. Sure, it may not look like much, but in reality there’s so much to discover. I’ve still haven’t fully explore the vast majority of the park. One of my favorite spots though, is the huge lake surrounding the mountains. Picnics are a must in the area, with the cool breeze gliding through the air and smelling fresh waters. If you’re lucky, you might spot a few ducks and give them a bits of food (the right types). Also, visit the Stone Mountain Town to go back in time. There are many buildings that resembles of the old town. The cafes, eateries, and multiple shops are worth checking out.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to credit my 6 kids as my source of my motivation to establish this business. Especially my oldest daughter, who helped me a lot despite being in high school with her own stack of work, creating our website and marketing our business through social media. She’s basically a team by herself. Granted, she sacrificed a lot of her time for the business, and I’m grateful to have a hardworking daughter. Lastly, I’d like to thank all the people who supported us by purchasing from us or spreading the word to their friends and family. and giving us words of encouragement. It helped a lot especially through these trying times.
Shahanaz Abdul Razzaq