Local cupcake shop Fluff Bakery expands overseas

Fluff Bakery owners Syaira Suhimi and Ashraf Alami hope to introduce new "Malaysian- themed" cupcake flavours.
Fluff Bakery owners Syaira Suhimi and Ashraf Alami hope to introduce new "Malaysian-themed" cupcake flavours.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The Singapore bakery will open an outlet in an affluent Kuala Lumpur suburb with a larger shop space and more flavours

Popular home-grown cupcake shop Fluff Bakery will open its first overseas outlet in Kuala Lumpur in early June.

The Malaysian outpost will be located in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, an affluent suburb buzzing with hip cafes and a 20-minute drive from the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

The 1,800 sq ft shophouse unit, which is twice the size of its takeaway shop here in Jalan Pisang, can seat 16 people. Diners can also order speciality coffee, which is supplied by its sister cafe, Penny University in East Coast Road.

Customers in Malaysia can expect a larger daily selection of 12 cupcake flavours that changes monthly, compared to eight flavours a week here. These flavours are rotated from Fluff Bakery's repertoire of more than 100 varieties of cupcakes.

Best-selling flavours include Nutella Red Velvet, a red velvet cake stuffed with Nutella and topped with cream cheese frosting, and ondeh ondeh, which is fashioned after the Malay kueh and has a gula melaka-loaded pandan cake with coconut cream frosting and desiccated coconut.

A cupcake at the Kuala Lumpur outlet will cost RM8 (S$2.50), while one here is $4.

The bakery also sells cakes that are fashioned after its cupcake flavours.

However, co-owner Syaira Suhimi, 29, who founded Fluff Bakery with her husband in 2012, hopes to introduce new "Malaysian- themed" cupcake flavours.

She says: "I am looking forward to visiting the pasar malams in Kuala Lumpur to see which desserts and kuehs can be converted into cupcakes."

Her husband, Mr Ashraf Alami, 36, adds: "It has always been a dream to expand to Malaysia as there is a much bigger halal market than in Singapore, with greater potential to expand to the other states at a later stage."

The couple are also riding on the new wave of dessert shops that have popped up in Kuala Lumpur, and an increase in spending power among consumers there.

It helps that many people in the Malaysian capital know about Fluff Bakery through social media and from families and friends who have visited the shop here.

In the last four years, the couple had turned down about 10 partnership offers to expand Fluff Bakery as they were more focused on growing the business here and could not find suitable partners.

To test the waters for the Malaysia outlet, the bakery held three pop-up events in cafes and a retail store in Kuala Lumpur in February and last month, which attracted snaking queues. About 900 cupcakes were sold out in an hour at each event.

Encouraged by the sweet success, the couple decided "to take a leap of faith" to open an outlet in the city. They are partnering three Malaysian F&B entrepreneurs and have invested about RM175,000 in the joint venture.

"With the strength of the Singapore dollar, the investment is not too large and we can afford to take the risk to expand our brand," Mr Ashraf says.

Competition in the Kuala Lumpur cupcake scene is stiff, though, with more than 10 brands, including Twelve Cupcakes from Singapore, already doing business there.

Ms Syaira points out that Fluff Bakery's cupcakes are stuffed with fillings such as cream and fruit purees, which make them stand out from the crowd as most shops there serve theirs without fillings.

Another advantage, she adds, is that the bakery switches up their menu more regularly and features more localised flavours and eye- catching toppings such as popping candy.

For example, it introduced a new flavour, Putri Salat, which is inspired by kueh salat, last month. The vanilla cupcake is loaded with pandan custard and crowned with coconut cream frosting, pandan custard and a cube of glutinous rice.

To ensure that the quality of the cupcakes remains consistent across the Causeway, the couple will be based there for six to nine months to train the staff and helm operations.

They also hope to open an outlet in Jakarta.

Fluff Bakery started out as an online shop and also catered cupcakes to cafes. Spurred by growing demand for its cupcakes, Ms Syaira and Mr Ashraf opened a physical shop in November 2013. At its peak, it sold 2,000 cupcakes daily. Now, the shop sells about 1,000 cupcakes every day.

Two years ago, the bakery moved into a larger shophouse unit in Jalan Pisang and opened a 1,000 sq ft kitchen in another unit nearby.

Despite its success in Singapore, the couple have no plans to open another outlet here. Mr Ashraf says: "One centralised location is good enough for us as we are certain that our bakes are worth travelling for."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'Fluff cupcakes head for KL'. Print Edition | Subscribe