Former Street Vendor Now Runs Own-Label Cafe, ‘Tehyeish’

he journey of a thousand miles begins with one step is a powerful reminder that even the most daunting of tasks can be accomplished when we take the first step and begin our journey.

This holds true in the realm of business. Sharing his success story, Muhammad Adli Mohd Nazim, 28, who now runs his own-label cafe, ‘Tehyeish’ said he started from scratch, fuelled by the determination to succeed in life.

Sharing his life’s journey, the Kedah-born entrepreneur decided to take the plunge at the age of 20 against all odds, learning by trial-and-error along the way.

After completing his culinary studies at Sungai Petani Community College in 2015, Muhammad Adli did not rest on his laurels; instead he moved from his hometown in Sik to Alor Setar to serve as an agent for a pizza franchise.

"There are no shortcuts to success. It takes hard work and tenacity to grow a business or career. To reach this far, I started my career as a street vendor, followed by selling my own products at a stall until an opportunity knocked on my door to open my own cafe, Tehyeish,” he told Bernama here recently.



According to the eldest among three siblings, he started selling pizza for two years after moving to Jalan Kuala Kedah in Alor Setar, with expectations that the purchasing power in the densely-populated town would be higher.

 “I was wrong. In fact, it was tough doing business away from my home ground. At the new place, I had to compete with other renowned brands as well as established enterprises there.

 “Response was lacklustre, forcing me to return home and selling pizza at my birthplace in Sik,” he said.

Realising that he was unable to make lucrative returns (selling pizza), Muhammad Adli then pivoted his business by selling his own products such as iced tea, iced boba tea, iced cincau tea named Teh Ais Premium (premium iced tea) in 2018.

From two premium iced tea outlets in Sik district – the main town of Sik and Pekan Batu Lima - he managed to expand his operation by opening four  other franchises run by other operators in Guar Chempedak, Sungai Petani, Kepala Batas, Penang as well as Bandar Menjalara, Kuala Lumpur.

However, all his premium tea business, which he had built over three years, including those managed by other operators, had ceased operation in early 2021.

Unfazed by the turn of events, Muhammad Adli shifted his focus in 2021 by selling chicken chop at a ‘Rahmah’ price of RM5.50 and it is still operating till today.

Reflecting on his past, Muhammad Adli said he had no capital to start a business after completing his studies and was hoping for some loan from his parents.

 “Given my passion for business, I did not work elsewhere. I noticed that most traders would usually use their savings as capital after quitting their permanent job of five years, before venturing into business.

 “One day (at 20 years old), I told my parents that I wanted to go into business and needed some capital. The equipment, including a freezer alone would cost around RM6,000.

“I also needed a van to transport the goods to the stall. The price of a van at that time was RM9,000. Overall, I borrowed a total of RM17,000 from my parents,” he said adding that it pricked his conscience to be in that situation, especially when they were not from a well-off family.

 His father, Mohd Nazim Othman @ Ibrahim), 56, was a civil servant while his mother Basirah Mohamed Yusof , 50, a fulltime housewife.

 “As such, I had to prove that I could overcome all the challenges as my parents had parted with their savings to help me realise my dream. They had no other property but only their life savings.

 “Our financial resources were very limited.  No matter what, I must make it a point to pay them back. I would feel guilty if I could not settle the loan,” he said, adding that through hard work, he managed to pay off his debts within a year.



Muhammad Adli’s perseverance bore fruit after eight years of going through all the blood, sweat and tears to achieve success. The father of a boy managed to spread his wings from an ordinary stall to a cafe, with his own brand, Tehyeish.

The name Tehyeish was coined after his son, who is now six, pronounced ‘teh ais’ as tehyeish.’

 “Tehyeish was officially opened in 2021 and similar products sold at the stalls previously have been maintained till today, with 25 new special menus added to the list, such as hazelnut chocolate, Spanish latte, caramel macchiato, butterscotch walnut, yoghurt ice cream and gula apong (palm sugar).

 “Others offered to customers are pastries such as caramel doughnut, which is a hot seller among our customers from various ages.

 “Seventy per cent of the menu served at Tehyeish are based on my own creativity with research and development (R&D) conducted to produce a unique and exquisite taste,” he said adding that Tehyeish is also available in Padang Serai (Kulim, Kedah) and in Sik town.

Customers have also the option to place their food orders using the drive-thru service at its Pekan Batu Lima branch.

 “Our drive-thru service is not as sophisticated as those available at established restaurants. To realise the concept at Tehyeish, I have rented a larger site from the Sik District Council so that I can provide a stall to facilitate my drive-thru customers,” said Muhammad Adli, who has 30 workers to support his business.



Looking back at the entire tapestry of his life, Muhammad Adli said albeit the various challenges faced over the years, he has emerged stronger and of significance is his street exposure when he learned the tricks of the trade in the business world, including managing workers, undertaking marketing as well as financial management, noting that grit is important for entrepreneurs - a resilience that makes a person determined to bounce back from failures and setbacks.

 Muhammad Adli who is presently waiting for the birth of his second child can look back with pride as he has been able to provide employment for residents in the surrounding areas including students seeking  additional income while pursuing their university studies.

 “I’m primarily engaged in Food & Beverages (F&B), with drinks, ice cream and desserts as my main menu. It is my vision that I could one day be in the same league as other popular brands.

"Insya-Allah (God willing), I hope to set up my Tehyeish operation at every district in Kedah, with plans to expand to Penang and Perlis,” said Muhammad Adli, who is aggressively marketing Tehyeish on Tik Tok, Instagram and Facebook.

Muhammad Adli also shared that his grandfather Mohamed Yusof Hashim, who was also a businessman, has been his source of inspiration.

Muhammad Adli Mohd Nazim

"Tok Wan (my grandfather) used to sell fruits in the 1980s. He started selling fruits at the stall until he managed to buy a lorry to transport his goods from Thailand to Sik. Traders including pasar malam sellers, would usually buy the fruits from Tok Wan.

 “In the 1990s, Tok Wan managed to have its own shop; to be able to set up his own shop during that era was an achievement as most traders were renting their business units,” he said.

For youths who regard the business world as income-generating, Muhammad Adli said what’s important is to equip themselves with the knowledge and understanding of the many nuances in business.

 “Running a business is tough. The rigours of entrepreneurship demand sacrifices, and if you don’t make those sacrifices, you will never able to succeed. My advice is to weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge as it demands unwavering dedication and sometimes, unexpected sacrifices.

Translated by Salbiah Said





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