Nadia Nasimuddin wears the Omega Speedmaster 38mm with diamond bezel and blue alligator strap
“It’s not easy,” is a phrase that pops up frequently during our conversation with Nadia Nasimuddin. It was in Sept 2015 that Nadia graced the cover of Prestige Malaysia. Then we discovered that concealed within her petite frame was a resolute spirit that she frequently brought to the fore when overseeing the F&B division of the Naza Group and in her own pet project Portluxe. And as we discover in this interview, it is this determination that has enabled her to grow the division since the last time we spoke.
“It takes a lot of passion, dedication and it takes a lot of effort,” Nadia says.
The Naza Group first ventured into the F&B industry with Bubba Gump, then adding Tutti Frutti and eventually Morelli’s, Dotty’s and BLVD.
“Bubba Gump, that was our first, our baby. We have Morelli’s the gelato because I was obsessed with the brand when I was studying but then we realised we have to keep with the market and try something new,” explains Nadia. “I love bread, I love pastries, so that is when it hit me and I thought you know what, I want to do a pastry joint, like how you get in Europe. That’s how Dotty’s came about. Then I felt people have an appreciation for quality, that’s how BLVD came into place. Dotty’s is more like your neighbourhood coffee place, BLVD is like your New York restaurant.”
Nadia Nasimuddin wears the Omega Speedmaster 38mm Cappucino with diamond bezel & sednagold
Before setting up both outlets, Nadia embark on the process of R&D. For Dotty’s it took about a year of food-tasting while for BLVD, research also involved ensuring that the ambience was right.
“It was different because BLVD has more of a lunch and dinner kind of menu,” explains Nadia. “I wanted to have that casual dining kind of place but with a touch of luxury where you get foie gras and truffles in your meal.”
The concept for both appeared to be just right. Dotty’s, without having an official launch, had an overwhelming response. BLVD too attracted the same reaction. For that, Nadia credits social media.
“Just through social media, the crowd has gotten so overwhelming that we haven’t gotten the time to actually launch it (Dotty’s). Now I feel it is too late to launch Dotty’s but that is how big of a role social media plays,” says Nadia. “BLVD as well, every time I Instagram something people think it is coming into the menu. Another thing is that people don’t really look at the menu but at their phones. I think that it is important.”
The influence of social media has also resulted in consumers being exposed to global trends, elements that Nadia has attempted to bring into the F&B business of the Naza Group. For those attempting to enter the food industry, Nadia advises that it is a “24/7” job. She adds that the industry requires a combination of factors to succeed. These include “finding the right talent, getting the consistency and right supplier.” It also essential to establish the right Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). All these will ensure that one is on the right track.
“F&B is not something where you can blink your eyes for one second,” Nadia explains. “The consistency or quality is going to drop. You have to consistently be on your toes.”
In the immediate, the goal for the Naza Group’s F&B division is to increase the number of “petite” Dotty’s. There also plans to open another restaurant playing on the concept of skydining. Despite having her hands full with the current portfolio, introducing new concepts is inevitable.
“Food always evolves and people always want something new.”
Nadia Nasimuddin wears the Omega Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer Chronograph
Apart from her role at the Naza Group, Nadia also has plans for ventures of her own. Already, she runs Portluxe, a preowned authentic designer boutique. And in the works is a local online beauty mecca, called MySMINK.com, for local beauty products.
“I think the potential is there,” Nadia says. “We saw that the demand is there and it is something that we want to push.”
She reiterates that setting up the portal which is expected to be launched soon has not been easy. A lot business development studies had to be conducted in order to assess the demand for local products.
“There are a lot of good products which are just selling on Instagram but they are equally as good as a branded good,” she explains. “It takes a lot of research and studies. We actually benchmark ourselves against a lot of other competitors before we actually got into it.”