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Safe and sweet

By Fan Zhen ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-24 07:34:04

Safe and sweet

Mao Chen quit her job as a human resources manager in Beijing and started a workshop producing handmade nougats with different flavors. [Photo provided to China Daily]

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Mao Chen's handmade nougats are made of fresh and wholesome ingredients-and fairy tales. Her online business is booming, she tells Fan Zhen about her toothsome tour de force.

When Mao Chen first read the story of how two children ate magic marshmallows made of clouds and flew to deliver dinner for their father on a rainy day, the idea of linking sweets and fairy tales became an inspiration.

She says food satisfies the palate but also motivates the imagination. That is why her online shop selling handmade nougats is called Cloud Jaja, and her sweets are given lyrical names like Beyond the Clouds, A Place in the Heart, Remote Mountains and Sinking Moon.

Mao says she hopes to convey a sense of calm and happiness, and the different flavors can help her customers' imaginations take off.

She has evidently hit on a successful formula. Already, she has collected 7,250 positive comments on Taobao, one of China's largest e-markets, in just 18 months. These positive comments give credibility to the products sold online and are what prospective customers will refer to before they buy.

"Soothing and healthy nougats with stories-that's the kind of candies I want to make," she says.

Just two years ago, Mao was not thinking of starting a candy shop. She was a human resources manager and was starting to learn how to make nougats because of her 4-year-old daughter.

"If you have kids, you will know how kids love sweets. I did not trust the candies in the market because of all the food-safety scandals," Mao says. "If I made them myself, I could at least decide what ingredients go into the sweets."

What she did not expect was the popularity of the handmade nougats among her daughter's classmates and her own friends.

"Mothers were asking me to make more because their kids enjoyed them so much and they trusted the ingredients I used."

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