In 2003 a holiday to Thailand would change the life of Ian McDonald and his now-wife Jiap.
Two decades on, the pair now run Jiap’s Thai Asian Foodmarket in Turriff and have done so since opening its doors three years ago.
Jiap moved to Scotland in 2006 after staying in touch with Ian and has lived in Aberdeenshire ever since.
The couple, who have two children, say they are still learning each other’s cultural differences as they run the food market together.
Jiap’s journey to creating Thai Asian food market
Ian said his wife had to “jump through hoops” in order to get visas for entering the country.
However after Jiap was granted indefinite leave to remain the pair have never looked back.
After noticing a shop for sale and a gap in the market, Jiap and Ian went ahead with a business plan which has changed their lives.
Ian said: “We were sitting at home and I came across a shop for sale which was reasonably priced.
“I said to Jiap ‘do you fancy opening a Thai shop?’. I enquired, put in an offer which was accepted and now here we are.
“We weren’t aware of any others in the north-east and Moray areas.
“We used to have to travel to Aberdeen to buy Thai ingredients.”
Ian said the achievement of opening during Covid is something he’s proud of and said the store also offers benefits for his own family.
He added: “One thing I learned very quickly is that Thai people will not compromise on food.
“Although Jiap will have Scottish food, she wouldn’t function without sticky rice and chillies.”
The pair are currently working on expanding the business website, creating an online shop and delivery service.
The business has further room to expand after the couple purchased the premises at the rear of the shop.
Business Gateway support
Jiap and Ian reached out to Business Gateway for support to expand Jiap’s Thai Asian Foodmarket.
The firm benefitted from support including one-to-one guidance from a dedicated business adviser.
Jiap said: “I wanted to introduce my friends and neighbours in my local community to my culture, but I really struggled to engage the community.
“By going to Business Gateway for support and advice, I’ve been able to plan out what my next steps are.
“My local adviser Catherine Homewood has been incredibly supportive, and I know I’ll continue to receive great guidance as we start the next chapter for our business.”