The baking industry in Malaysia has grown tremendously over the last few years. Driven by the popularity of baking in the pandemic and growing e-commerce, more bakers have gone into business selling baked goods. 

Scaling in this competitive landscape is no small feat – but Sugar and I was able to do just that.

Image credit: Sugar and I

Sugar and I is a bakery that specialises in artisanal baked goods and places extra emphasis on delivering the best experience to its customers. Having gotten their start in Subang Jaya, Sugar and I have since added a new location in Kuala Lumpur.

Dropee sat down with co-founder and director, Ilyas Alsagoff to discuss how Sugar and I was able to come out stronger after a gruelling year for businesses.

“The Dropee credit term is great because I can order as much as I want, sell it first then pay them back in 30 days. If anything were to happen to Sugar and I – if my fridge or oven broke down, I have enough cash to cover it and survive.”

Keeping a Growth Mindset

Like many up and coming bakeries, Sugar and I started from home. Ilisa, Ilyas’ sister and co-founder of the company, regularly baked as a hobby, honing her skills and sharing the baked treats with friends and family. The positive feedback they received motivated the siblings to start their own business – with Ilyas handling the business side of things and Ilisa in charge of the baking.

We started on Instagram and didn’t think it was going to be anything big. We gave baked goods to our neighbours and opened booths at our university.

It didn’t take long for Sugar and I to start receiving more attention. Once influencers started posting and sharing about Sugar and I, the business got even more traction to the point that the founders’ home kitchen could not keep up with the influx of orders. By 2018, Sugar and I opened up its own store in Subang Jaya.

As a small business setting up its first store, Ilyas recalls it being tough as they had to manually handle everything, from ordering supplies, baking, marketing, budgeting and of course, the dreaded paperwork. Sugar and I had to personally visit shops to compare wholesale prices and follow up on orders, taking time away from the creative aspect of running a bakery.

Having a growth mindset has been the key to juggling both an online and offline channel while keeping the customer experience consistent throughout.

I enrolled myself in a lot of marketing, financial and business courses. Similarly, my sister took up baking courses, such as learning how to make custom cakes.

In an industry that is always asking for new flavours and unique experiences, Sugar and I knew it was important to be constantly learning and improving themselves.

Image credit: Sugar and I

Never Compromising Quality

It’s clear from Ilyas’ approach that Sugar and I does not compromise on quality. The founders took up courses to sharpen their skills before taking their business further and they still do it regularly today.

We have chefs from France coming down from time to time to teach us how to make products like macarons, cream puffs, Paris-Brest and custom cakes. Even though we’re not selling these products yet, it’s good to learn more about the industry so that when the demand is there, we’ll be ready.

This attention to detail is the reason Sugar and I put so much work into their recipes – their biggest pride. Everything is painstakingly refined, from the consistency of the dough to the texture of a first bite. 

To achieve the quality they had in mind for their recipes, Sugar and I uses only the finest ingredients in its desserts, such as real strawberries to make jelly. 

For a business that constantly tests new recipes to nail them and prides itself on quality, sourcing the right products is the top priority.

One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding suppliers. When you buy raw ingredients at such an expensive price, you have to sell them at an expensive price – people will complain. But what customers don’t understand is that it’s difficult to source good products.

Simplifying Product Sourcing

Sourcing for ingredients is a time-consuming task – from comparing prices to following up on orders manually. And a small business like Sugar and I has to be more mindful with how they spend their limited time and resources. 

At Sugar and I, we use a lot of quality products that cost quite a bit. One of the things Dropee guarantees is to help us find unique and hard-to-find products at unbeatable prices.

Ilyas credits Dropee for simplifying product sourcing. Dropee hosts a wide range of suppliers on our site to fit Sugar and I’s unique needs. But the ability to place orders with just a few clicks has been the real game changer for Sugar and I, which saves the business valuable time. 

It’s centralised, which makes my life a whole lot easier. I don’t have to source out for suppliers in separate locations because I have Dropee.

Aside from Dropee’s personalised service, another favourite of Ilyas’ is the credit terms offered by Dropee, which helps businesses maintain a healthy cash flow.

“Celebrating Happiness” into the Future

The future is bright for Sugar and I – the business aims to continue broadening its range and spreading joy through baked goods as it always has.

As Dropee expands with us, I’m confident that we will reach new heights and hopefully spread happiness throughout Malaysia and the world.


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