Kha Mern grew up in a household with parents who daily fed stray dogs that walked around their neighborhood, even bringing them in for vaccinations and castration at the vet.
It is no surprise that Kha Mern started doing the same later. As a fresh graduate student who ran a design studio with her friends, she would feed homemade treats to pets, a move that eventually led to her launch SOCKS.
A name that invokes wanderers
After his aunt, who bought it years ago but left it unused, gave him a small food dehydrator as a gift, Kha Mern began experimenting with it. First dehydrating some fruits and vegetables as nutritious snacks for herself, she soon tried to prepare meat for her dogs, Kiwi.
At the same time, her parents adopted 2 puppies after rescuing them from a drain at the falconry center. Now with 3 hairy members at home, Kha Mern realized it would be a good time to dive into making more treats for them, mostly to reduce the cost of such purchases.
She would explore the different fruits, vegetables, and meats that pets could eat, toying with different settings on their food dehydrator. With her 3 dogs and all the strays out there, Kha Mern continued to experiment before she finally thought the treats were good enough to sell; On August 6, 2020, ZOKZOK was launched.
The name “ZOKZOK” represents the onomatopoeia of the sound that Kha Mern utters when calling stray animals, which would often approach her when they heard it.
Exit for creativity
Using simple ingredients such as broccoli, anchovies, carrots and various types of meat, all ZOKZOK desserts correspond to human evaluation and do not contain additional preservatives.
But it’s worth noting that Malaysia’s healthy pet food industry is lucrative, meaning many other local brands are cashing in on it, one of the most popular Barkery oven, for example.
Kha Mern is well aware of this and stated that ZOKZOK not only tries to run with big dogs, but also functions as a place for creativity among her design team.
So if you are moving through ZOKZOKs Instagram or website, you would notice that the photo of the product stands out by how it depicts miniature landscapes. You’ll find little cats hunting grated giants or little dogs climbing a mountain of broccoli.
“We are people who enjoy art and design. We take [this business] as a challenge, as well as a medium that will show all our skills, ”said Kha Mern. While this is a unique way to get customers’ attention, the team also believes that they can make pet treats look just as appealing as human food.
“We like to spend time discovering and creating. It is fun to try all the possibilities for ZOKZOK. Work gives us opportunities to expand our passions; it will be one of our life projects that we will work on, “she added.
Everything in the content
Since the design studio was already equipped with production equipment for photography and filming, ZOKZOK could be set up on a limited budget. So, their capital of 3,000 RM was spent on building their online store and investing in an industrial dehydrator to produce larger quantities at once.
Starting an online business saved them the expensive cost of opening a retail store, but it meant building enough visibility to reach customers was not easy. So the team persevered and focused on building their presence on social media.
“Honestly, it really relies on your content on social media. The hardest part for us is that we are constantly producing good content (posts, stories, etc.), especially during a pandemic where it is almost impossible to reach offline customers, ”explained Kha Mern and believes that every online retailer can relate to their experience.
“Fortunately, we have some customers who have appreciated our efforts, purchased and recommended our products to others.” The graphic designer humbly shared that ZOKZOK’s numbers have not been too extraordinary so far, but added that they have sold about 1,056 packages since September 2020.
According to the order, ZOKZOK pet treats are sold at a price of RM5-RM20 per package. The volume inside each package can be different, because vegetables and anchovies are high in content but light in weight. So, vegetables are packed in 20g and 50g variants, anchovies in 25g and 60g, and meat jerseys in 50g and 100g bags.
Over the next 3 years Kha Mern shared that the team wants to provide more healthy treats to our furry friends and continue to explore more design options for ZOKZOK.
Credits for prominent paintings: Kha Mern, founder of ZOKZOK