Don’t be fooled by her smile and sweet disposition – Fizah Nizam is workhorse. Since April last year, the talented co-founder (yay #girlboss!) of Rouse has been diligently rolling out unique, unexpected, and awesome videos and content that have had many people beating a path to her curious little café. When she’s not busy running the show at one of the most #toocoolithurts cafés in town, you can find this chic go-getter running her lines for the next big television show. We followed this bright-eyed beauty into the roasting area of Rouse to talk coffee, her hipster café, and how she went from flying the skies to owning one of Singapore’s best.
Hi Fizah! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Hi! Well, for starters, I am a 16-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old body! I love to laugh, so anything funny is alright by me. I’ve been told I’m a little quirky and unpredictable and I believe that true happiness comes from the act of giving. And I would like to help spark change in our society one day.
What’s your main role at Rouse?
My main role is to help plan concepts and execute creative marketing strategies for the café with my team, and I oversee operations. When time allows it, I try to practice my latte art. But looking at the results, I’ve still got a long way to go!
How did the name for the café come about?
We had wanted a simple name. And it had to be just a word that describes what we wanted to achieve with the introduction of the café. My husband came up with it actually. At around 5am while I was still very much asleep in Zurich, when I was still a stewardess that is, my husband called to say he had a Eureka moment. And that Eureka moment, was Rouse.
We’ve been huge fans of Rouse since Day One, and the things we love most about your café is that it advocates a lifestyle. What do you think has been the most important part of Rouse’s strategy and approach that’s allowed that to thrive?
I would think it’s how lepak we are? From the very beginning, even with the choice in location, which turned out to be Dunlop Street, we’ve always wanted Rouse to project a homely feel – unpretentious and accommodating. Although we do get a lot of people saying we are hipster, especially with regards to our furniture, our purpose was actually to recycle and re-utilise the items we already had so as to minimise on unnecessary wastage! Even with our staff, we ensure that everyone feels like they are part of a BIG family. We believe strongly in family values and our company culture evokes a lot of it.
What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and overcome as a #Girlboss?
I think the biggest challenge so far is having to delegate, which I really think is an important skill especially if you’re leading a team. Personally, I am used to doing things on my own, so delegating started out pretty difficult for me. However, I think once I was able to build my trust with the team, it definitely made things easier. Other than that, it has to be having to meet up to expectations, not of others but of your own. The amount of pressure obtained from the responsibility you’ve acquired is also something that comes with the title. However, it’s very important to keep yourself emotionally and spiritually strong, and to also identify your limitations so that you won’t bite off more than you can chew. Because having limitations don’t make you weak, they just make you human.
Yourself and Rouse have amassed a great following on social media. How do you keep it fresh for your followers?
Interesting that you brought that up! Actually the behavioural patterns of our followers in each of our accounts differ, therefore the output for each account also varies.
For example, on Rouse’s account since it’s a food place nonetheless, we notice that our followers want to see more pictures of yummy food! Therefore, especially recently, we’re trying to cater to their visual palate a little more by posting pictures of our food. But soon, I’m hoping to take it up a notch by including more creatively directed videos of our food too!
However in the case of my personal account, I actually don’t pay so much attention to what I post because it’s usually erratic and random. I love taking videos and editing them through my phone, no matter what the subject may be. But someone once told me that I don’t post enough photos of myself, so I’ve been doing more of that ever since!
How would you describe your sense of style?
I reckon I’m an emotional dresser. Like I really do dress depending on how I feel and most of the time I feel really…chill?
Your schedule must be crazy considering that you’re filming and running the café. How do you manage your time to relax and unwind?
Well in all honesty, I hardly get to! So what I do is to try to enjoy every moment of work, whatever work may be, to simulate the idea that I am actually not working. I know it might sound sad, but really, I do enjoy what I’m doing! However, my husband and I do plan short escapes now and then just to keep things fresh!
Given that you’re in the public eye so much, do you have any beauty or skincare obsessions to share?
No obsessions really! Just the standard cleanse and moisturise, with the occasional scrubs – very important! Also, I guess not using make up too often would help your skin breathe better too. And oh yes, according to my good friend who’s a nurse, it’s also good to sleep before 11pm so that your body will be able to rejuvenate and recover enough for the next day!
What are some of the things that you cannot live without?
I would have to say love and purpose. I cannot live without purpose, because I believe purpose shapes the person you become, and love motivates you to understand and embrace that person you’re meant to be. And yes, on a more tangible basis, probably my phone too although I won’t really say I can’t live without it. It’s more like it would be easier to live with it.
What are some qualities you think a Sassy girl should embody?
Originality, adaptability, charisma and confidence.
Who’s provided you the most inspiration throughout your journey as you build your business?
Honestly, my family. Especially my mother, father, husband and mother-in-law. I look up to them for their experience, perseverance, emotional strength and positivity. I am blessed to have their continuous support which keeps me both grounded and motivated. And my husband and I try to continuously inspire each other .
What advice can you share with other Sassy girls and #girlbosses in training?
Patience will be your most rewarding virtue and your individuality is your biggest quality. Everyone is different, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. Don’t be afraid to be whoever you want to be, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Show respect and you will be respected all the same.
What’s next for Rouse and where do you hope it’ll be in a few years?
We hope to have Rouse up and running for as long as it can! We’ve almost reached our first year mark, and we definitely look forward to many more years to come! This year, we’re looking into participating in more events, as well as coming up with more quirky events of our own. We hope to establish Rouse, not as just another café or coffeehouse, but also, an environment where creativity of all sorts can roam and play. And if it all goes well, we should look forward to moving to a bigger space!
Wow, thanks Fizah! You’re a real inspiration to all us Sassy Girls! Special thanks to the vivacious Shamsydar Ani Photography for the beautiful images of Fizah!