The moment that you find out you’re pregnant can be one of the joyous moments of your life. Children are a source of great joy for many and they may even provide parents with unexpected opportunities to learn more about themselves and what is really important in life.
But what do you do when your parenting hopes and dreams get interrupted by news you did not expect? Finding out that your child has a rare condition or disability, one that is often without any treatment or cure might be devastating, but these three mums came up with the idea of starting a business for their children not only to encourage their children’s hopes and dreams but to also support their unmet needs and high medical costs.
Yap Sook Yee
Entrepreneur & Founder of Friendenarts, and Founder of NGO – wecarejourney.org
Yap Sook Yee is mother to two boys, Jaden and Branden who are 15 and 12 years old respectively. In August 2011, when Branden was 1 year old, he was he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
Sook Yee shared that they were shocked about what the doctor told them.
“We were shocked and devastated as the doctor told us that children with SMA Type 1 dies before 2 years old. We were told to bring him home, love him, and focus on your elder son instead.”
On the other hand, during the pandemic in August 2020 , Jaden – her older son, was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) and Pituitary Macroadenoma after they noticed that his growth was very slow for a teenager. “We felt like deja vu. Although it is not terminal this time the tumour in his pituitary gland can cause him to be blind,” said Sook Yee.
Despite the circumstances that they were in with high unmet needs and medical costs, Sook Yee and her husband were not one to give up easily. Since both their children love painting and creating things, they set up Frienden Arts – an online shop selling art pieces to help support their high medical costs.
“My husband and I wanted our children to know that despite any circumstances and condition they are in, they are capable of doing something to live a life with dignity and to have a sustainable income to support their high medical costs. Frienden Arts is also a platform for us to support other children who are in similar situation like our family,” says Sook Yee.
Children with a rare disease or disability have the same needs as every other child – to learn, play, be included, have friends and be loved by their parents. By starting this business for her children, Sook Yee has noticed that her sons’ confidence level has risen up and they’re much happier now. She advises parents who want to start a business for their child to ‘start small with a big goal’.
For more information on Frienden Art and how you can purchase or support their work, head on to friendenarts.com.
Full-time single mum and home baker
6 months through pregnancy, Miyumi – mother to Jonah (8 years old) and Jamian (6 years old) first found out through ultrasound that Jonah’s limbs was shorter. It was first perceived as achondroplasia(dwarfism) and later on found out that there was deformation on the limbs (bowed bones at an angle), causing the bone to look as if it had been broken. They were informed that Jonah has a high possibility of being born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta(brittle bone).
“It was difficult having to learn about it, worrying and thinking about the pain and suffering he would have to go through in life throughout the pregnancy,” said Miyumi.
After delivering Jonah, she found out that Jonah did not have Osteoporosis Imperfecta, but skeletal dysplasia instead. However, it was only early February this year that he was finally diagnosed with Hajdu Cheney Syndrome(HCS), a rare genetic disorder which can affect many parts of the body, particularly the bones causing loss of bones tissues resulting in Osteoporosis.
“Finding out that he has HCS has brought out a lot of mixed feelings. We’re glad that we finally have the diagnosis. Having being diagnosed, means we get to have a rough idea of what to expect, and to mentally and physically prepare us all for what is to come,” says Miyumi.
During the pandemic in 2020, Miyumi decided to start an online bakery for her son after he expressed his dream to open his own bakery and sell cookies to customer.
“It was Jonah’s idea. He knew he wanted to be a baker from the start and after hearing him say ‘I wish I could open my own bakery to sell my cookies to customers’.. I just couldn’t ignore it and instead encouraged him to start baking. I thought it was important for him to know that if he has a dream, he can achieved it, especially when he had the passion in him.”
They started off by creating an Instagram account, followed by a website (www.jonahbakes.com) with the help of a cousin and friend. The response that came was overwhelmingly positive with support and kindness from the public, which motivated Jonah encouraged him to keep going.
When asked if she would recommend other mums to start a business and get their children involved she said, “yes, definitely! Being a single mother myself, it has given me the time flexibility needed to balance mummy duties and running Jonah Bakes at the same time.”
Jonah Bakes operates as an online bakery focusing on festive cookies gifting according to our local Malaysian celebrations. They also have their signature cheese & cocktail bons, salted egg scones & kaya. Jonah Bakes revenue helps support Jonah and Jamian’s education, medical needs and basic needs for their family.
For more information on Jonah Bakes, head on to www.jonahbakes.com.
Home Baker & Mumprenuer
Farra is a mum to two boys, Ayden (6) and Anaqi (3). When Ayden was 2 years old, she detected something unfamiliar since he was still not talking, no eye contact and overly active. After consulting a doctor, she soon found out that her son was autistic.
It was hard for Farra to adapt as she did not have anyone to refer to except for doctors and therapist. No close family or friends has the similar diagnosis as her child to share and refer to.
An old friend of hers created a clothing line for her own son who is autistic as well and this inspired Farra to start her own business for her son who enjoys baking with her too. In 2020 she started The Cookie Bros, selling premium toddler friendly cookies such as Dua Budak Comot (Belgian Chocolate Chip Cookies), Dua Budak Sunburn (Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies) and Dua Budak Hitam (M&M Black Charcoal Cookies) and some of Baby Friendly Non Sugar Cookies.
“100% of the profit from these cookies goes into their bank accounts,” says Farra.
With the business, Farra hopes to create more awareness about autism and also sees it as a way for her boys to have fun and make them feel like they are ‘important’.
To support Farra and her boys in their little business, head on to @the.cookie.bros on Instagram.