When I came across Art of Salmó’s Sushi Loaf online for the first time, I thought it was just a cake. Looking closer, I then realised it was salmon, dressed up very prettily.
Finally, after actually clicking into the brand’s profile, I was met with a bunch of other salmon-looking products.
Other than the sushi loaf, Art of Salmó also serves round sushi cakes, smoked salmó cheese cake, Japanese canape, salmó dips, as well as straight up sashimi. The brand also sells fillets and whole slabs of…
That’s right, Art of Salmó isn’t about salmon—rather, the brand is a purveyor of all things fjord trout.
It might be a little confusing at first, particularly because of the brand’s name. But Salmó isn’t just some fancy way to say salmon.
In actuality, it refers to the genus of ray-finned fish from the family Salmonidae, which, as you might’ve guessed, includes fjord trout.
A family effort
Established in 2019, Art of Salmó was founded by Phyllis Teh and Dan Aw.
Dan, who had been in charge of the brand’s graphic design, has since left the company. Today, Phyllis runs the company with her siblings Lavra and CH Teh.
While Phyllis doesn’t have any F&B experience, she does have a connection to fishery. The Tehs’ father had been a fish wholesaler when they were growing up, selling fish in a Sungai Petani pasar.
However, in order to raise his children well, Mr Teh later changed his occupation and started his own business.
That connection aside, Phyllis also believes her background in marketing and events has been valuable in helping her form Art of Salmó.
“However, business is not like a written book,” she expressed. “There’s a lot of uncertainy and challenges, but I enjoy the [feeling of] accomplishment every time after overcoming those challenges.”
Meanwhile, her brother, CH is from a finance background, and her sister, Lavra, from a law background.
Phyllis manages Art of Salmó full time, including the operations, while her siblings focus on marketing and planning.
Trout vs salmon
Seeing the coral pink fish and the white lines, I instantly thought of salmon first rather trout. I know I’m not the only one who thought so, as Phyllis shared that some customers were confused in the beginning too.
According to Phyllis, premium quality trout with affordable price tags were hard to get when Art of Salmó first started out, so they saw a market potential there.
Plus, she also believes that the source for trout is much more reliable and consistent.
The fjord trout Art of Salmó uses is flown all the way from Norway, a country that has strong governmental support when it comes to its fish farming.
“We have trout freshly delivered from Norway once every two days in the morning. After some process work, the trout will be delivered to our customers in the afternoon,” she said.
With that said, Art of Salmó also carries a few salmon products, and the team is actively looking to bring in other seafood options.
Catering to furry friends
Other than serving fresh trout to Malaysians, Art of Salmó has also launched a pet series for furbabies, further leveraging the resources they already have.
“We started up Pet-mo because we have two little cats at home, and one of them has a serious skin issue,” Phyllis explained.
That’s when Phyllis started to notice that there were a lot of pet products in the market that have additives, preservatives, and starch, which are bad for cats. Thus, the siblings decided to do something about it.
After rounds of research, they discovered that collagen bone broth worked well for the cat’s skin and fur.
Thus, Pet-mo was born. Other than just various collagen bone broth products, there are also items such as frozen salmó flakes, cat-friendly cakes, and even mee soup for cats and dogs.
Going forward swimmingly
Like many companies, Art of Salmó had struggled with financial instability in the early days as well as gaining exposure and trust.
Plus, the trout brand had only started a year before the pandemic hit, which was a whole other a challenge of its own.
Keeping up good communication with customers and putting care into every detail is likely what continues to draw returning and new fans though.
My managing editor, Sade, recently purchased some Pet-mo products and was delighted when she saw just how unique the packaging is, designed by the Art of Salmó team with on-point branding.
From Phyllis’ perspective though, there’s still more they could do to improve the business. “There’s still a lot of trial and error, but I believe my team and I will be able to overcome it,” she said.
Art of Salmó currently has an office in Damansara Perdana, where customers can drop by for pick-ups. To keep up with the operations, the siblings are looking to move into a bigger office in 2023.
Down the road, Phyllis plans to open a concept store serving customers too.
“We see our brand as more than just a seafood store,” she said. “We also hope that our customers can hang out with us and have different experiences in our concept store.”
Her ambitions don’t stop there either. Phyllis said that the team aims to have services covering the whole of Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak.
Beyond that, the siblings would like to go international with their business, creating a footprint in Southeast Asia, and making the Art of Salmó name equivalent to premium top quality seafood.
- Learn more about Art of Salmó here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Art of Salmó