The creative founder of Malaysia’s top durian souvenir brand, Aesos Lai, ends the year with great fulfilment and shares how filial piety shapes one’s course in life.

The souvenir which best represents the vibrancy in Malaysia is no other than its national fruit-the durian-and Aesos knows it. Already in t-shirt souvenir design business, Aesos first work out the idea of a ‘durian’ retail from one of his t-shirt designs. Since its conception in 2014, Sunshine Kingdom is the first company with durian-related products in Malaysia to be awarded with the Superbrands status.

As an entrepreneur, you introduced yourself as the creative founder of Sunshine Kingdom who only deals with branding and marketing. What is your viewpoint on this?

I love thinking and innovating so I prefer to do research more than handling operations. Therefore, I invited Eddie Wong to join me when I set up the business. He’s a specialist in retail and operations with years of experience so I know he’s the best man to do the job. To summarise, I’m the thinker and he’s the executor. Also a fun fact, Eddie was previously my customer.

You have a Durian Kingdom cafe in Central Market, selling vast options of durian-infused Malaysian food like nasi leak durian, ais kacang durian and etc. Why a durian cafe?

I was encouraged by a close friend who told me that a ‘durian cafe’ concept will appeal to people who like something unique and durian-related food items. Besides, durian is getting more popular among Chinese tourists from mainland China. It was a timely opportunity.

Besides the cafe, Sunshine Kingdom takes a very interesting approach in marketing the durian products as souvenirs.

Durian is a very special local fruit. Firstly, Malaysians would gather for a ‘durian session’ and it shows that durian is a fruit that can unite people. It is the pride of our country. hence, we believe that durian is the perfect food souvenir. Taste durian, taste Malaysia.

Congratulations, Sunshine Kingdom is also listed in the Malaysia Book of Records.

Thank you. We are the first company to be known for having the ‘Most Number of Durian Related Products in 2018’. We want travellers who visit Malaysia to take home a piece of the local flavour in the form of the very unique durian products. Today, we have 85 different products in total from getting the fresh whole durian fruit, packed frozen durian and many other durian products.

Personally an avid coffee drinker, I would never go for a food fusioned coffee. But, the durian coffee by Sunshine Kingdom truly exceeded my expectations. What is the idea behind it?

I’m proud to say that we are the first company to emphasise durian species in our range of durian coffee offerings. Each species tastes differently. The variance between Musang King, D24 and Durian Kampong will add to its own unique flavour. Other than that, we are also the first to introduce Musang King Kopi Luwak in the world!

This is definitely an uncommon approach for a brand. Sunshine Kingdom is the first to adopt a filial piety value as part of its company identity.

Well I firmly believe that filial piety is an expression of gratitude and such conception can help the company to build a strong foundation in business ethics and values. Besides, I live by my quote; if you take care of your parents, God will make you happy.

Now that Sunshine Kingdom is leading the tourist market in the food souvenir ‘gifting’ trend, tell us your future plans for the company.

I hope to see our products on the shelves in major supermarkets nationwide. We would love to attract the positive feedback that we got from foreigners with the locals.

Text by Jessy Wong. Photos by Rick Cheah & Aesos Lai

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