On The Spotlight: Norfaranina Zaki, Little Penyu Group
This month Parents Avenue is shining the spotlight on Norfaranina Zaki, the illustrious founder and executive director of LP Group Sdn Bhd, housing brands such as Little Penyu , Little Penyu Essentials and Hoola Bangle.
Norfaranina’s entrepreneurial journey began with her educational pursuit at Multimedia University majoring in Media Innovation before taking a leap into her current line of work, Little Penyu Baby Swim Spa – the first baby spa in East Malaysia. “The leap from Media Innovation to my entrepreneurial endeavors wasn’t very difficult in certain aspects such as designing, promotional medias, business website. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was studying till today.” A proud Sabahan, mompreneur Norfaranina is also a proud full-time business mom to her two young children, Adam and Arya. Diverging from Little Penyu, Norfaranina is also one of the founding members of the Sabah Chapter of Mompreneur Asia and the Event organizer for Hobbycon, the biggest annual ACG event in Sabah.
The conception of Little Penyu came to life in 2014. Norfaranina mentions “I thought of the name on the way to a meeting.” She adds with wit. “The reason I chose “Penyu” is because it’s one of the main, cherished yet endangered marine life in Sabah.” As for the creation of Little Penyu, Norfaranina shared that it was a personal choice. “I left my job of eight years to care for my first born at the time. There weren’t any family members who could care for him, and I personally didn’t want to send him to the nursery, yet, I still wanted to continue working in a workplace that was baby-friendly so I could work and care for my baby simultaneously.”
During that period, baby spas were trending internationally and had recently reached Malaysia. “I thought, why not have one here in Sabah so that Sabahan mothers wouldn’t have to fly to Kuala Lumpur to enjoy this service.” With this, not only could she work and care for her baby, but at the same time, have an environment that is nurturing for mothers to share their experience with one another and form a support system. “Plus, there was no water therapy based establishment in KK that was temperature controlled (warm) and non-chlorinated. That was my vision at the time.” She remarks. However, getting the business started in the early years was an uphill battle. “The downside was that I didn’t have much entrepreneur knowledge especially in business and finance. I didn’t know where to seek help. However, after three years of ups and downs, learning from mistakes, seeking mentors for better guidance, I managed to score government grants to upgrade my business and products which I am grateful for.” Lastly, she adds a few pearls of wisdom for good measure. “Being a mother to two small children, things get easier in certain areas. I learned to juggle my time better, seek help when I have to and have more confidence to network better.”
Having operated for five years, Little Penyu has amassed an abundance of experience in supervising, guiding and conducting parents and babies during both classes and spas. Norfaranina affirms that Little Penyu advocates parents-baby bonding through hands-on. “During a massage instruction or baby massage class, parents will learn how to communicate with their baby with respect, learn to acknowledge how their baby is feeling and how to massage their baby safely.” Over the span of years, Little Penyu has accommodated all kinds of babies and babies with special needs aren’t exempt. Norfaranina recounts on her time aiding a visually impaired baby. “Usually, blind babies find it difficult understanding their body and movements.
With water therapy, the constant light pressure that surrounds the body in the water is the perfect antidote to this problem.” She goes on to clarify, “Learning to move in water is so much easier than because you are more aware of your body and its movements. In this baby’s case, she truly enjoyed the whole twenty-minute session. You should have seen her smile! I couldn’t help but cry.” Along with babies with visual impairment, Little Penyu has assisted also babies living with Cerebral Palsy and Hypotonia (Low Muscle Tone).
For parents looking into giving Little Penyu a try, she recommends that they’ll highly benefit from Baby Hydrotherapy, especially when babies are at their pre-crawling stage, which is between one to six months. “When babies are as young as one month, they still remember the water environment from their mother’s womb. With little gravity in the water, it’s easier for them to focus on walking, kicking movements and honing balance and coordination.”
From her success with Little Penyu Baby Swim Spa, Norfaranina has since ventured into new domain and created, Little Penyu Essentials, which comprises of two balms, “Fragonia Balm” and “Boo Boo Balm”. Each Little Penyu Essential product contains only plant-based ingredients that are simple and safe, strictly ensuring that the ingredients are clearly sourced, clean, animal cruelty-free and all natural. “If my baby spa was influenced by my son, Adam then Little Penyu Essential is definitely inspired by my daughter., Arya” she indicated. After an incident that left Norfaranina feeling helpless when her daughter was admitted to the hospital due to bronchitis, she began researching on solving a common problem among essential oils for babies.
“I’m an avid user of essential oils, but the problem with it is it has to be diluted before applying it to babies.” Norfaranina’s triumph and solution to this problem was indelibly born, in the form of, Little Penyu Essentials. “I started by doing it at home, trying it on my kids, myself and gave samples away to a hundred mothers. When I received a mountain of happy feedbacks, I started selling them.” She smiles. “Fragonia Balm” comes in two variants; “Fragonia Balm for Infant” for infants starting from three months of age while “Fragonia Balm Junior” are for kids aged from two to six years old. “It’s a milder kid-safe version to Eucalyptus and Peppermint oil that’s widely used to soothe respiratory congestion among children.” She explains. “Boo Boo Balm” on the other hand is rich in selected kid’s safe essential oil. “It possesses an organic plant base that has properties to soothe itchiness due to insect bites, rashes, hives, and also healing properties beneficial for healing minor cuts and scrapes. Most importantly, it is deeply moisturizing for dry skin and for babies with dry and itchy eczema.” With her eyes fixed on the future, Norfaranina has admitted to plan expanding The Little Penyu Essentials line. “When I began with this brand, I’d already come out with other lines such as Natural Vapor Rub for adults, lotions and body wash. However, I decided to focus on my two main products first, to gain more trust, and eventually introduce one quality product at a time.”
With the many achievements Norfaranina has amounted over the years, from the opening of Little Penyu Baby Swim Spa and the launching of Little Penyu Essentials, she recounts her proudest moments. “Besides being the first baby spa to open in Sabah during 2015, I’m also proud we practice parents hands-on to promote bonding between parents and baby.” She extends more, “We at Little Penyu also closely adhere to the principle of IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage) whereby parents or direct care-takers should massage a baby to preserve bonding. We leave that part to the parents with our step by step guidance. We’re the only baby spa in Malaysia that practices this.”
Another major mark, is that Little Penyu Baby Swim Spa also doubles as a breastfeeding pit stop for parents near the vicinity. “Parents who wish to breastfeed their baby or change their diapers but cannot do so in public for whatever reason are welcome to use our facility even if they aren’t our customers.” She adds contently.
Drawing things to a close, Norfaranina drops a personal message to parents and readers of Parents Avenue alike, “If you have babies in the age range of one to six months old, bring the to Little Penyu pronto. It’s the most recommended age!
Parents can do their online booking at http://my-visits.com/littlepenyu and/or to purchase our natural baby balms online, visit www.lpessential.com or check out the partners page to view other lists of participating retailers and pharmacies. Most importantly, don’t forget to follow us on social media on Facebook and Instagram, @littlepenyu and @lpessential.