Kimm Leang Hour, 23, unlocks the doors to Donut Palace at midnight every night. She spends the next 12 hours sifting flour, mixing dough, cutting out pastry shapes and rolling out a minimum of four different types of pastries every single day.
Kimm arrived to America in 2012, 16 years old, speaking very little English but propelled by great heart. Her mother, who arrived in the country five years before Kimm, helped pave the way. Waitressing her way for work, she studied hard and overcame many cultural and social obstacles.
Today, Kimm is the sole owner of Donut Palace, where she works seven days a week. Her mother works daily at her side, and Kimm’s two-year-old daughter Ellianna, is often playing at their feet. In addition to supporting her mother, which includes translating for doctor’s visits, Kimm travels often to nearby Sedalia to help extended family with financial and translation needs.
“My life lesson for success,” Kimm says, “is to do what you love to do -- it will reach you to the place you want. Never give up and lose hope.” This, she says, is what makes her work at Donut Palace worthwhile.
Kimm Leang Hour’s shoes are covered in flour during her shift on Wednesday night at Donut Palace in Booneville, Missouri.
Starting work at midnight, shop owner Kimm Leang Hour has already made over one hundred pastries that she will sell when her shop, Donut Palace, opens at 5 a.m. in Booneville, Missouri.
Making enough dough to meet the needs of Kimm Leang Hour’s customers requires four hours of hard physical work in the early morning. The final product includes 18 different types of pastries, including apple and cherry fritters, cinnamon rolls, bear claws, muffins, strawberry cream cheese crossiants, four different types of cake donuts, maple, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate glazed donuts, biscuits and gravy and sausage rolls.
Early Thursday, before the sun comes up, a customer waits while Kimm Leang Hour puts together her order at Donut Palace, Booneville, Missouri.
Kimm Leang Hour’s mother, Bophy Nhel, greets a customer at the drive-through window, accepting payment for a bag of just-baked blueberry donuts
Kimm Leang Hour and her mother, Bophy Nhel, share a light moment before hitting the road to Columbia University Hospital where Kimm will translate for her mother’s doctor appointment.
On the way to the hospital in Columbia, Missouri, Kimm Leang Hour fills the gas tank of her SUV at the gas station in Boonville, Missouri.
After visiting University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, Kimm Leang Hour and her mother, Bophy Nhel, walk back to their car for the trip back to Booneville, Missouri.
In the kitchen of the Donut Palace, Kimm Leang Hour’s mother, Bophy Nhel, helps mix the dough that will be used in the shop’s pastries.
The back room of the Donut Palace stores a variety of cooking tools while a video feed allows the owner to keep an eye on other parts of the business.
After flattening the pastry dough, Kimm Leang Hour cuts it into shapes and separates donuts from long-johns before cooking.
In between cooking and serving customers, owner Kimm Leang Hour writes checks to cover the costs of ingredients and restaurant supplies.
In the kitchen of Donut Palace, Kimm Leang Hour takes a moment to check her phone while making herself a coffee before returning to work.