By: Chloe Hoy

Most of us have dreams that either vanish when we awake, or remain without much consideration. For Jordan Cash, he quite literally turned his dream into a reality. I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Cash, a 2010 graduate of UBC’s MBA program and founder of gourmet donut shop, Cartems, where he recounts the long-envisioned dream, shares his opinions on sourcing local, and speaks about his goals for the expanding business.


In 2002, Toronto-born Cash was living in South Korea and dreamt that he owned a donut shop. “I even saw the name ‘Cartems’ in the dream,” he shares. “It doesn’t mean anything, but that’s what it was called in the dream!” Jotting the name down, the idea was revisited while attending UBC’s Sauder School of Business. The prospect began to form into a viable project, and Cash used his interest in entrepreneurship to shape the mold of his future shop. “I realized I wanted bigger and better things in my life, and thought that the best way to get those things was to do it myself,” he says.


Modern treats have become increasingly popular over the last few years with cupcakes. Now donuts have been added to the mix of the mouth-watering food trend. While Cash is a fan of all sweets, he admits his dream was the driving force behind product of choice. “It’s just that I dreamt of [donuts], and the timing for a modern donut shop was perfect,” he relays. When the dream became a reality in 2011, the city of Vancouver agreed.


“If we focus on getting people to smile and talk about our donuts, then that’s how we win. It’s a simple concept, but very lasting.”

After existing as a pop-up since their formation, Cartems made the move to a permanent storefront late last year. The transition introduced the team to a 2,800 square foot space, giving the business a seating area and back kitchen. “The major challenge was building the location ourselves. We reused a lot of material from the space, which is neither cost nor time effective; however, it was completely worth it.” The rewards are beginning to show with the actualization of their original business plan. “The other benefit is just the joy of having people in what I consider my second home!”

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The “inherently creative” group have an open forum when it comes to creating new flavours. “We always approach new ideas with the notion of ‘there’s no such thing as a bad idea’.” Cartems’ menu boasts 12 innovative flavours, including ‘the Earl Grey,’ ‘Canadian Whiskey Bacon’ and ‘Bee Sting.’ Honey glaze, parmesan cheese and cracked pepper, anyone?


Although organic isn’t the most inexpensive way to go, Cartems’ mandate is to use locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. “I believe very strongly in supporting the local economy as a just way to do business. The more times a local dollar is circulated locally, the more powerful and impactful that dollar becomes. In my opinion, it’s not extraordinary at all. In fact, I hope at some point we don’t applaud those who source locally because it’s the norm. Rather, we should be calling out those that don’t”. Alongside donuts, the shop serves milk on tap and coffee with beans from Vancouver’s Matchstick Coffee Roasters.


“Progress over perfection: you don’t have to have all the answers in order to move forward. Momentum is far more valuable than waiting to have everything figured out. The second lesson is to share your ideas. There is no value in keeping an idea bottled up. Put it out there, allow others to critique it, learn, and go back to the drawing board. Don’t worry about people ‘stealing’ your idea; they’ve got plenty on their own plates!”


As a customer centric company, online platforms are crucial to Cartems’ outreach and receiving of feedback. “It’s a great way to reach a large number of people very quickly. I consider followers on any social media platform to be customers of ours, regardless of whether or not they actually come in the shop.”


Cartems’ new year’s resolution is to open two more locations, three being their stretch goal. “In 5 years, I expect Cartems to be national, because a certain company who shall remain nameless has really dropped the ball when it comes to offering Canadians a donut made with love and care,” Cash says.


“Be ready for your life to be consumed by your business. You will not know how it feels until you do it, but just ensure that you’ve got the energy and patience to tread through the initial phases. Set weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual expectations, and revisit them often. Make sure you are measuring against your expectations, because this is the only way to know if you are succeeding or failing at any given moment.”

Pop in to try Cartems’ delectable donuts at 534 W. Pender Street. Visit them at, and on Twitter and Instagram @CartemsDonuts.