Wee Gim Shawn and Han Ee Von, 25 and 26 years old respectively, were flight attendants. They enjoyed their jobs and all that came with it—the airline itself, their coworkers, and the ability to trot all over the world, of course.
But then the pandemic struck. As much as the two loved their careers, there was too much uncertainty and instability to stay in the industry.
“So, we made the decision to build something that is sustainable at the moment,” the couple told Vulcan Post.
And that “something” turned out to be a pastry brand that specialises in doughnuts. Carrying the name of The Cloud Supplies, the brand carries hints of the co-founders’ air stewarding past, as well as Shawn’s dad’s legacy.
Shawn’s father operates a traditional bakery in Melaka, and The Cloud Supplies shares his kitchen.
Growing up, Shawn would help his father on school holidays, so he had some baking basics down.
Other than that though, the couple doesn’t have any formal training from pastry schools. They have attended some workshops, but they mostly learnt from rounds of trial and error.
“This is currently our full-time job,” they said. “Maybe we could go back to the sky someday when the situation eases up.”
Inspiration from down under
Their idea to grow the doughnut scene in Malaysia had existed even before the pandemic started.
“We love to explore all sorts of pastry stores and restaurants as we used to travel a lot with our previous company and are very fortunate to be able to explore cities around the globe,” the couple expressed.
Other than the food itself, they were also fascinated with the branding of the pastry stores. They admired cafes whereby every element aligned with the direction of the brand.
They were particularly inspired by a café in Fitzroy, a lively suburb in Melbourne, Australia. There was a little pastry store there that served doughnuts, defined by a raw and organic branding.
“So, we grabbed a couple of doughnuts and a cuppa hot latte from the store, sat back, and spent the entire afternoon in the store interacting and sharing life experiences with the owner,” Shawn and Ee Von said.
Sadly, the store is now permanently closed. But the experience lingered in the couple’s mind. Till today, they can still recall what biting into the vegan vanilla bean was like—fluffy, flavourful, and light as a cloud.
So, the couple got to work. They wanted to recreate the fluffy doughnuts they tried as well as emulate the strong branding they witnessed in Fitzroy.
However, doughnuts aren’t exactly uncommon in Malaysia. There are plenty of popular brand names such as Krispy Kreme, J.CO, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
But the couple argued, “We would say our kind of doughnuts is still pretty niche in Malaysia as most of the pastry stores are serving bombolonis instead of the artisanal doughnuts.”
A bomboloni is an Italian filled doughnut. The major difference between this kind of doughnut and the ones The Cloud Supplies serve are the holes—or lack thereof.
Sugar and I, a brand we’ve featured recently, is a prime example of what bombolonis look like.
Demand up north
Although The Cloud Supplies’ products might still be considered niche, the brand is not exactly the only one of its kind.
Some other artisanal doughnut brands in Malaysia include Donut Plan, Noti Doughnuts, and Halo Doughnut. All three are based in the Klang Valley, with a considerably larger following compared to The Cloud Supplies.
Despite this, The Cloud Supplies seems to have plenty of eager customers in the area.
“We send doughnuts to KL personally on a weekly basis,” Shawn and Ee Von said. “We bring up an average of 30 to 40 boxes of doughnuts each trip.”
Customers will meet the couple at a pre-arranged pick-up location. To ensure consistency, the couple makes the doughnuts fresh on the day of the delivery.
Given the positive reception, it seems like The Cloud Supplies could potentially open up shop in the KL area. However, the founders said they’re not ready to take the risk yet.
“We would love to, but unfortunately we’re not going to make it at the moment, as we’d like to form a very sustainable foundation in KL first,” they said.
However, they are planning some pop-ups in KL to accommodate customers in the area. They also revealed to Vulcan Post that there’ll be an exclusive pop-up in July for a new product debut.
Above the clouds
It wasn’t always smooth-sailing for Shawn and Ee Von. They faced many issues with logistics and distribution, and understandably so, since their artisanal doughnuts can be considered fragile in nature.
However, they have overcome those issues, and have even found opportunities to give back to the community.
“We regularly send doughnuts to orphanage and old folks’ homes on a weekly basis, and occasionally spent time with them if we’re available on the day itself,” they shared.
Although the couple is still rather young, they see their age as an advantage. Since they are still early into their pastry careers, they hope to take the time to build the foundation of the brand and grow with their business.
Featured Image Credit: Wee Gim Shawn and Han Ee Von, founders of The Cloud Supplies