If you haven’t had a slice of Gula Cakery cake, you’re seriously missing out. There is most likely an outlet nearby where you can sample their delicious cakes. In honour of International Womens’ Day, FirstClasse spoke to the remarkable founder of this delicious local bakery to learn how she leveraged her baking hobby into a thriving business, and how she plans to remain at the forefront of F&B innovation in Malaysia.
Share with us your journey into starting Gula Cakery.
Before Gula Cakery, I did a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education but because I am a homely person and I love to spend time with my family, I found a passion in baking and wanted to really pursue that. Baking is something that makes me happy. At 25, after graduating, I opened my first outlet at Kota Kemuning. A two floor shop where the ground level was the café and the upper level was where I do my baking classes for my students.
Who (or what) was the inspiration behind each recipe?
The biggest inspiration is my grandma. She is not just a grandmother but my best friend. She was there when I held my first whisk and she taught me everything about baking. My family plays a big part; their constant support is what I believe made me who I am today.
I create my cakes and meals with the thought of sharing the happiness I’ve had with my family. Ever since I took up baking classes in Paris, the pastries on Gula Cakery’s shelves are inspired from the many classic French pastries. I’d add my own twist to them with unique and beloved flavours.
Tell us more about Paris.
I went all the way to Paris to study baking and I came back with much inspiration and readiness. Of course, the journey wasn’t always smooth sailing. One time where I was the only baker and I really wanted to perfect a recipe. I baked until late at night at the studio and a police officer showed up because they thought someone broke in.
Gula Cakery has been in the F&B industry for almost 9 years now. What was your proudest moment so far?
Until today, my proudest moment is winning a pitching competition. I remember presenting my cakes and sharing my ideas and strategies for my outlets. I was the only F&B winner as everyone else pitched tech-related ideas and we won RM 500,000.
Other than that, creating over 200 flavours of cakes, expanding and having over 150 staff working under Gula Cakery and being where I am right now. We also recently expanded Gula Cakery outside of the Klang Valley late last year. We opened a store named Malaiqqa in Malacca, and with that, Gula Cakery has 11 operating outlets.
You are named as a rising female baker-entrepreneur in Malaysia’s F&B industry. How does this make you feel?
I am immensely proud of myself, my family and my team. But I’m also aware of the responsibility that comes with it now. Now, I’m more focused on being a mother and a good leader to my team. Balancing these two aspects in my life is a challenging thing but it’s all worth it as I know I’m bringing happiness to not only my family and team, but also fellow Malaysians who enjoy desserts.
What’s your favourite ingredient to play with in the kitchen?
Flour. Any kind of flour!
What’s a ‘’weird’’ combination of ingredients that you’ve always wanted to experiment with?
Chilli and chocolate.
What’s on Gula Cakery plate in conjunction with International Women’s Day this year?
As a woman entrepreneur, I’d like to celebrate all women from different walks of life. Hence, Gula Cakery provided a Ladies’ Day promotion every Wednesday this month to celebrate all women!
What’s next for Arieni Ritzal and Gula Cakery?
It’s about maintaining the outlets and ensuring everything operates properly. Our outlet at Pavilion Bukit Jalil is currently under revamping and will be refurbished soon!