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A Chat with: Corey Smale and Tyler Fenwick of Strange Donuts

July 9th 10:07am, 2013


Corey Smale and Tyler Fenwick aren’t your typical doughnut shop owners. The entrepreneurs have a background in advertising and marketing, not in making long johns and fried rounds of jelly-filled goodness. Since the spring, they’ve held tastings (and pog tournaments) to build a buzz about their concept, Strange Donuts, opening in the coming weeks in Maplewood. Here, everything you need to know about the wacky world of Strange Donuts.

Why doughnuts?
CS: We love doughnuts. Doughnuts are fun. You can’t even take doughnuts seriously. It allows us to have fun t-shirts and sunglasses.
TF: We saw what was going on in doughnuts in cities like Portland and Austin. We’ve also seen what’s happened with cupcakes. They’ve just blown up. Why not with doughnuts? Nobody else is around here is doing the Voodoo or Gourdough’s thing.

So you see doughnuts as the next big thing?
TF: It’s not here yet, but it’s out there in other places.
CS: The big thing right now is cronuts. Cronuts are out of New York. There’s one bakery in the country that makes them. They’re like flaky layers of dough and they make them into doughnuts. We may try to do them this summer.

Why did you choose to open in Maplewood?
TF: They welcomed us with open arms.
CS: What Rachelle [L'Ecuyer, director of community development for the city of Maplewood] is doing for small business in Maplewood is such a powerful thing. They really invest in creative businesses: bakeries and beers and bars and cakes and pies and chocolate. It made us feel immediately comfortable and confident in this business.

Where did you come up with the name Strange Donuts?
TF: We were going to be Dogtown Donuts because it was going to be in Dogtown. When we decided to move to Maplewood, we had to change the name. [Smale] came to me with the idea of Strange Donuts. I was like god, no. Terrible name. I went from hating it to absolutely loving it. It describes the product. It doesn’t turn people off like I originally thought.

What kind of weird doughnuts are you going to offer?
TF: Gooey butter, creme brulee.
CS: We have a red velvet we’ve been working on. We’re going to do peanut butter and jelly. We’ll inject it with the jelly and put peanut butter chips on top.
TF: We want to eventually get into a pizza doughnut or a breakfast doughnut with bacon and eggs.
CS: Bacon is the easy link to get you to the savory world.

Where do you get inspiration for flavors?
TF: Sweet stuff plus sweet icing plus random filling equals magic doughnut.

Do you have any experience in the food or restaurant industry?
CS: We have a baker, Sweet Will. He has experience.

Where did you find Sweet Will?
CS: He’s my brother-in-law’s cousin. He did the cupcakes at my wedding last year. He does his own thing called Sweet William’s Custom Cakes. He was at The Cup and he studies [pastry] at Forest Park [Community College].

Does he like to be called Sweet Will?
TF: We just started calling him that.
CS: Then we got him business cards that say “Sweet Will.” So I was like, “Well, you’re going to have to be Sweet Will.”

You’re totally marketer-branding guys.
CS: This is heavy cardstock.

What makes you think you can do this?
CS: We put our idea out there when it was just a logo. Then we started building it. We did events, then we did the Kickstarter. The Kickstarter thing was huge: 324 backers gave over $12,500 dollars.
TF: And we asked for $10,000.
CS: I’m broke all the time.
TF: It was cool getting our friends and family to give us money, but when we started seeing people from New Zealand and Russia – people we had never met before, who don’t even know where Maplewood is – to have them give us money is just crazy.

-Photo by Ashley Gieseking 


By Ligaya Figueras

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2 Responses to “A Chat with: Corey Smale and Tyler Fenwick of Strange Donuts”

  1. Lucas Says:
    July 9th, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Hey Sauce, have you actually tried one of their donuts?

  2. admin Says:
    July 9th, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Yes, Lucas, we sure did!

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