While in search of a way to supplement her budget for college essentials, Yeoh Hooi Hoon came up with the novel idea of bringing her digital drawings of traditional delicacies into 3D, edible reality.
“I like to design anything,” says the 22-year-old, who also enjoys baking and would regularly offer treats to family members and friends. “My mum bakes a lot. As a kid, I would follow her around the kitchen and that’s how I picked up the skill.”
Apart from designing and baking, she also likes ang ku kueh and sushi. Combining those elements and expertise, Yeoh launched Floccus Floccus last September while in her final year of an interior design degree course.
Ang ku kueh is traditionally red in colour and crafted in a tortoise-shell shape, signifying joy, longevity and auspiciousness. Yeoh puts a twist to the chewy-textured cakes by making them in the form of nigiri sushi, a Japanese dish of bite-sized vinegared rice commonly topped with fish or seafood.
Among the shapes she has tried are unagi, tamago, avocado, hamachi, maguro and salmon. For her, drawing the sushi on an iPad is easier than crafting delicacies inspired by it. “I just draw and draw to get ideas and see how I can make the art come to life. Then, I will look into what kind of dessert I can create using the designs I have.
“Usually, I need about one month to prepare for a new launch to ensure everything is perfect. Besides the shape, I also pay close attention to the ingredients and taste of the kueh. It makes a huge difference if the amount of an ingredient is put more or less into a mixture. Each piece takes between five to 10 minutes to design,” she says, adding that tamago and scallop are among the hardest shapes to craft as they are more detailed.
Floccus Floccus maintains the traditional element of the delicacy through its fillings. Currently, there are the options of mung bean as well as shredded coconut with gula melaka.
Sold in sets of six and 25 pieces, the sushi ang ku is made to order all year round. Yeoh also accepts personalised orders and launches seasonal delicacies to give her clients of different backgrounds a variety of choices. “We customised ang ku in the shape of fruits and flowers for an event at a temple and made them in different designs for door gifts for a wedding.”
Another offering is kueh lapis — layers of steamed white and pink rice flour pudding — made in the form of siew yoke (roast pork). “It is vegan-friendly and brings the same satisfaction as eating kueh lapis, as the layers can be peeled one by one if you prefer to eat it in that manner,” she says.
Yeoh began selling her edible creations to friends, who then encouraged her to pursue a larger audience. “I posted the kueh on my private Instagram profile and my friends were my first customers. After that, I started advertising on Floccus Floccus’ own page. Our follower numbers increased rapidly when customers posted their positive [reviews] about the business,” she says.
She also relies on neighbours for feedback whenever she experiments with new desserts. “It is a close community around here and my neighbours are my critics. They will get [kueh] that don’t look so nice but still tastes good lah,” she laughs.
As a creative individual, Yeoh is not only selling food, but also arts and crafts, clearly evident from the intricacy of her designs. Hence, she finds it challenging when clients ask for a discount. “They say my kueh is too expensive. I know they are quite pricey but they are handcrafted. We spend a lot of time and effort making them. Customers are happy when I do promotions and they grab the chance to buy during that time.”
Yeoh and her mother spend half a day preparing orders in their humble kitchen. “Mum helps me. We produce about 20 sets of sushi ang ku daily, from 7am until noon. Then, we pack for delivery in the afternoon.”
The home-based business participated in a food exhibition at Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur, not long ago and Yeoh noticed that sales were better online than offline. “The target customers are totally different. People going to the exhibition like to collect samples instead of buying food or beverages. I feel more comfortable selling online for now.”
On the unique name Floccus Floccus, she says, “My Chinese name is Hui Yun and Yun means clouds. Different layers of clouds have different names. Floccus is the cloud we see when we look out of the plane.”
Although she started the business to make money to buy a laptop and iPad, Yeoh went on to pursue it full-time after graduating because it was well-received by those who love traditional delicacies. “I think it is also luck that Floccus Floccus is doing well. Customers can expect more kueh with new designs in the future. I have a lot of things I want to make but I’m selling what I’m confident with first,” says the young entrepreneur, who is already planning to make quirky mooncakes for the festival soon.
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This article first appeared on Aug 8, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.