Meet the creative force behind J’s Bakery

  • Publish date: Monday، 29 November 2021 Last update: Tuesday، 18 January 2022
Written by: Noura Al-Swaiti
Photography: Muhammad Jassim
Makeup: Hessah Alsanea
Hair: L’oisaeu Salon
Clothes: bloomingdales
jewelery: AUBADE

Dana Ali Al Shamlan, the founder of J’s Bakery, is one of the biggest names in the vegan, keto alternative dessert / food space in Kuwait; through her bakery she has managed to create a movement that has exploded in the past decade, with its focus on healthier dessert options and inspiring us to pick a wholesome treat, or low-calorie snack to fit our lifestyle. spoke to the entrepreneur to discover her thoughts on what the future holds for J’s Bakery, and to discover what's next for Dana Al Shamlan.

Dana alshamlan

Necklace:ANITA KO


1. Tell us how the idea of J’s Bakery was born?

Let’s start with I can live on baked goods all day every day. I have always been a home baker, I started very young in the kitchen baking, I loved the focus and concentration discipline that baking brings. You have to be meticulous, in your measurements, temperatures and ingredients.  It’s chemistry and you need to follow a recipe right to for a successful end product.

I love the smell of baking, the effort and love you put in and waiting for the end product. And mostly sharing it with family and friends and having them reflect back the love you put into it. Feeding people is something sweet is love to me.

I was pregnant with my first daughter Jude and I realized that I want to work for myself and create, and do something that makes me happy, so Jude was a huge inspiration because i didn’t want to work and leave her, she could be with me in the kitchen, it all clicked and made sense to bake. This was in 2005.

So the idea of the bakery really was born with Jude and started from the love of baking and all things sweet. But I’ve always been health conscious, and wanted to stay fit, as well as loose the baby weight and maintain a fit lifestyle. I didn’t want to limit my treats and wanted to have 2 cookies instead of one. I started breaking down recipes and studying and testing Fat to Sugar ratios in most baked goods and realized that it’s possible to literally cut the fat by manipulating the recipe, ingredients and baking techniques without sacrificing taste and texture.

This doesn’t work with all recipes some are better left full fat and fabulous…

believe me I’ve tried.

Through J’s I was able to share my love baking and sweet treats in a more wholesome, lighter way. So I started deconstructing my favorite recipes and testing them on family and friends, and I wanted them to enjoy their favorite desserts and indulge without the guilt.

Everyone loved and supported what I was doing so J’s as a home business started in 2005.

And our wholesale business started when some local coffee shops, restaurants even gyms started ordering, with Caribou being the first!  I love and appreciate all my early supporters, customers and companies that believed in J’s and it led me to open the Bakery in Surra in October 2008.

I started with B2B from day one back in 2006. Our first customer was Caribou and we have grown together and are blessed to have collaborated for almost 15 years in 2022. We have expanded our offerings with them, starting with our low calorie line, and expanding to high protein treats, vegan snacks and classic chocolate bites.

2. if you could do the whole process again, what would you do differently?

In one word simplify. Keep it simple. When you offer customers too many choices you confuse and overwhelm them and they tend to walk away although they really want engage with the brand. Other than that I wouldn’t change much, everything I’ve experienced including the mistakes and failures I’ve learned and grown from.

Dana Alshamlan

Top & pants Eudon Choi


3. What else can we expect for the future of J’s Bakery?

We are very excited to launch our Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) line in local convenient stores, hyper markets and online on grocery delivery platforms as well as in our stores and on our website. We took a best seller or two from each of our categories packaged them in a way to where we can supply more vendors and reach more people. We are launching with our low calorie Brownie and granola bar, vegan almond butter dates, Dark chocolate protein bombs and our salted almond love bites. So if you can’t get to us you can find J’s in your local 24 hour convenient store very soon. Once we roll out in Kuwait we would love to launch and distribute our goods regionally and hopefully one day internationally.

4. What is the number one lesson you’ve learned from J’s Bakery so far?

Listening to customers! Our customers are a huge source of inspiration. Their suggestion and criticisms and feedback has taught us a lot, helped us double down on our strengths and focus on what we do best and simply improving on that.

5. You have a reputation for being a fitness freak, how do you find the right balance between entrepreneurship, being a mother, and a dedication to fitness?

Honestly I search for that balance daily and I don’t always find it. I’ve learned to be more forgiving of myself when I’m not successful at balancing.

I think there is a lot of pressure on women to do it all and have it all. What I’m saying there must be trade off and you must priorities what’s important at that moment. So fitness has been a priority for me and it has served me well. I try to move everyday so sleeping early and waking up early is key to have enough time to attempt balancing all my responsibilities. I witnessed my mother train regularly as a child and she took me with her to the gym when I was old enough, her philosophy was to maintain health and vitality as a woman and a mother because you can serve your family and loved ones much better when you take care of yourself first. She set a great example. So I try to have my kids join me when I’m training at home or will take Jude, my daughter, who is old enough to a class or gym with me when I can and it serves as quality time together as well.

As I have gotten older my fitness goals have changed, it’s not only about physique and performance but it’s about being strong, flexible and feeling good and most importantly havening enough energy for the rest of my responsibilities. When I was younger I wanted high impact exciting fitness programs but now I’m more interested low impact training and such as yoga, pilates, tennis dancing, but I make sure I do functional training / weight lifting twice a week and always try to get my steps in daily.

Dana alshamlan

Dress: Jacquemos

Bracelets& Necklace:ANITA KO


6. How would you describe your philosophy about food and living well?

Balance here is very important I’ve been intermitted fasting for many years, I function better and have more clarity but I’m less extreme about it because fasting for too long for women can actually can have a negative impact on our hormones. I fast 12-14 hours but always listen to my body and break my fast earlier if I’m hungry. Listening to your body is key! It will tell how it wants to move when and what it wants to eat. When I was younger I was stricter with my macros measuring everything and counting calories. That’s why it was super important to have the nutritional information for all our treats from day one when I started the bakery.

But now I practice 80/20 rule, I’m good 80% of the time and rotate the same balanced meals all week and 20 % of the time I’m fun and flexible with my food. Finally, a great tip my mother taught me is eat whatever your craving, just eat half of it. She taught me portion control from an early age and It truly inspired how I developed our offerings portions at J’s bakery.

Dana alshamlan  08

Finger bracelet & Ring:JACQUIE AICHE

Earrings:ANITA KO

7. What is your advice for looking good inside and out?

It really starts with your state of mind. The outside will always reflect what’s going on inside. So feeling good and doing the inner work and finding some peace of mind and inner content is important. I did my yoga teacher training a few years ago and I learned more about the body and mind connection and how negative thought patterns, worry, stress and fear manifest in the body as skin issues and chronic diseases. So a daily meditation practice has served me well. Simply sitting down and relaxing the breath and body for a few mins in the morning is a great way to set your state of mind for the day ahead.

Dana Alshamlan 01

Top & Skirt: Theory


Finger bracelet & Ring: JACQUIE AICHE

Earrings:ANITA KO

8. You have started your career in fashion, tell us about this experience and what made you switch to the food industry.

I graduated from Boston University, College of Communication. Majored in advertising and mass Communications, I finished in 3 years and half and returned to Kuwait wanting to work in Fashion. I knew I wanted to work with Majed Al Sabah at Villa Moda. (Remember the beautiful glass cube) they had just opened that space a year or so before that, brand new space, loved the people the energy the team and Majed’s Vision. I worked 6 months before going back to Boston for graduation. Then I worked full time mainly in the creative department but I trained and assisted in almost all departments. Buying, Merchandising, Stock, Events, and the Restaurant. Some of my responsibilities were assisting in Visual Merchandising store displays, Buying, went on several buying trips with the buying team and Majed himself to assist as well going to the runaway shows in Paris and Milan and it was an exciting time and a great experience watching the team translate runway pieces to something that’s suitable for Kuwait. This is where I learned creative problem solving, not unlike baking and dessert trends how to translate it to the local palate, portion size and retail prices. One of my favorite was the time I worked with the team for Branding for the Villa Moda Restaurant, menu & staff uniform design.

9. What are your favorite fashion brands internationally, and regionally?

I spend a lot of the time in J’s kitchens. Our team tshirts and sweaters, as well J’s merch has become my uniform. Paired with leggings, jeans or a skirt depending on the mood and I’ll throw on a blazer or a duster jacket if I have meetings that day. This has become my uniform. It streamlines my mornings, as its one less decision I have to make. With that said, I live in SOM (active wear for conscious living) by my close friend Dana Al-Khobaizi. She launched early this year, a Kuwaiti brand, made internationally, the fit & quality is fantastic and I witnessed her create SOM, she even tested early samples on me and I’m a big fan!

As for international, I tend to gravitate to simple monochromatic looks, never prints only stripes. I love brands that celebrate a woman’s shape with an effortless feel.

Some favorites are Rick Owens, Norma Kamali, Max Mara and Alaia.

10. How have you been practicing self-care throughout the pandemic and its lockdowns?

When I wasn’t working or trying to figure out what will happen to the business. Because we tried to remain open and serve as much of our customers as we could. However, definitely remember setting the intention to take any time I have at home to do all the things I wanted to do but never had enough time for. I listed on a white board at home all the books I wanted to read and all the workshops I wanted to attend online, all the self-care routines that I wanted to improve and do research on. I took the time to refine my set personal goals, and then I put myself on a schedule. I would still wake up early and train at home and get any work stuff out of the way and took pleasure and enjoyed that locked up time really dive deep in different parts of my life I wasn’t paying attention to before.

Dana Alshamlan 02

Top: Khaite

Necklace:ANITA KO



11. What inspires your most?

Women inspire me! We have more opportunities and freedoms; it is truly a great time to be a woman. J’s customers inspire me, their feedback is super valuable and make us better. But what especially inspires me are my 3 girls, Jude, Jenna and Tala. They are my toughest critics and my biggest support. They are different and super special in their own ways and their feedback and honesty whether it’s about my parenting skills, a new treat I want to launch or what I’m wearing is super important. They are a true source of inspiration, insight and creativity for me and I’m blessed to be their mother.

Dana alshamlan 09