The Mixed Confection Of Nanthanaporn Euawanthanakhun
Graceful and smiling at first appearance, Nanthanaporn Euawanthanakhun recalls anything but a tough businesswoman. And then you remember that this is the lady who has taken a humble home bakery operation and turned it into a multimillion- baht countrywide business. She is candid and forthright in her speech, which is the first indication that she is, in fact, one tough cookie.
“People tend to think that my life has been some sort of fairy tale—the little baker who made good, but the reality is very different. I have come a long way under my own steam,” says the woman known as Orn. Born at Nakhon Sawan 250 kilometres north of the capital, she is the second of four siblings and the eldest daughter. Now a mother of three herself, she reflects on her nascent years. “Our family had a building material and construction business. Mother would put all four of us to work at the store to help out. I was always the more entrepreneurial one. I would even try to sell cheap cosmetics and jewellery,” she laughs.
So it wasn’t a surprise when she eventually majored in hospitality business management at ABAC, and then got itchy feet. “Mum passed away when I was 19,” she explains. “My elder brother had to drop out of university and I had to take over her household responsibilities. After I graduated, my family naturally wanted me back home to help with the business and I did go home for a bit.” But here again she showed an inner determination to go her own way. “I felt stifled after a while so I sent my resume to an airline and was offered a position as a flight attendant. I loved it! It was hard work but I got to meet people and travel.”
Ever the pragmatist, Orn knew a career in the air wouldn’t last forever and after a year and a half she packed it in. She then took her savings and invested in a small coffee shop—another thing she had always wanted to do—at Crystal Design Centre. “It was an effort from the start. For almost two years I would lie to friends and family about progress, saying it’s going great when really we were sliding towards bankruptcy.”
But once again Orn wasn’t prepared to give up. “At the airline I was used to working out what people wanted. My job was to please them. So what could I make that would please people? Pastries, I thought. Everyone loves a good bun!” She immediately took a small space at Central Rama III, “Enough for a pastry chiller. I named the shop April’s Bakery because April was my cabin crew name and it’s my birth month.”
Business was discouragingly slow to begin with as Orn experimented with different products. “To keep going I had to sell my car and all the branded goods I’d collected over the years, but it was worth it because one day we introduced a Hong Kong-style pastry adapted for Thai tastes with a filling of red roast pork and it took off. My then boyfriend Chanin Mathuraporn, and now husband, never knew that after dropping me off from dinner with him I would spend until four in the morning making those buns.” It’s been the company’s bestseller for nearly a decade now, a go-to item today at the almost 60 branches of April’s Bakery. Most of her products are also sold at thousands of 7/11 outlets across the country. But that doesn’t mean any let-up for steely Orn who says her next goals are “a bigger factory and overseas markets. We’re coming. Oh, and also more children!”
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