The Golden Compass and Life of Pi were two Oscar winning movies she worked on, courtesy a decade long career in visual effects in filmmaking.
She turned a baker seven years ago, but it was only in 2012, in an attempt to get a decent looking animal theme cake on her daughter’s third birthday that she realized she should try her hand at sugarcraft. “How difficult could it be, was my first thought. And even if it did not turn all right, it was my cake after all,” says Poonam Maria Prem, owner of Zoeys BakeHouse in Hyderabad.
Baking catches up with Poonam
Work kept her busy thereafter. Baking caught on Poonam yet again when a colleague asked her how to make a rainbow-themed cake for her daughter’s birthday.
“Trust me, it was the most nerve-wracking thing I thought I had done and always wondered how do they
make those big fat cakes they show on television channels,” says Poonam.Months passed by and Poonam’s official responsibilities built up and amidst the chaos, she decided to make a stiletto in sugar, for an office colleague yet again. “I had no plans to take this up commercially, but then, I did put up a facebook page, after my daughter’s name Zoey (thus was born Zoeys bakehouse). Though one would think it is incredible, I forgot about it completely, till my husband pointed out to my post having gone viral on facebook,” recollects Poonam.
Comments and calls came pouring in. People wanted to buy cakes, and Poonam still was not sure if she wanted to pursue a career in baking, when she was doing so well in her mainstream career.
Slowly over the weekends, Poonam started taking up commercial orders. It was gripping and satisfying at the same time.
“Its only when I started getting an avalanche of orders I realised there is a market and the market is indeed big. The only things required to make it big were crazy amount of hardwork, sleepless nights, some failures and a lot of love for my new job,” says Poonam.
Full time into baking
A year later, after working on the movie Percy Jackson – Sea of monsters, Poonam gave up her job at
Rhythm and Hues and never looked back. About sticking to her plan, Poonam says it indeed is a very well paying job but given the hard work it takes, people tend to underestimate this profession.As Poonam says, it is difficult to keep pace with people’s enquiries and requests, messages on whatsapp, phone calls, emails, walk-ins and facebook. “Most of them do feel we are a team, but it’s like living on the edge each day trying to figure it all out single handedly. My husband is my backbone, without whose support Zoeys bakehouse would have been a distant dream,” says Poonam.
Having worked for an employer and now turning entrepreneur, Poonam feels both have their pros and cons. Zoeys Bakehouse, though, has given her recognition, is all hers and has a public image of which she can be immensely proud.
“Creating visual effects is a tough job as office hours stretch sometimes beyond human ability. I remember working for 14-15 hours at a stretch and not being able to see my daughter. Even now, I work
approximately for 12 hours in a day but have a better control over work-life balance and am always available for my daughter, if the need arises,” says Poonam.As an entrepreneur, Poonam finds it the toughest to handle clients and talk to them and also draw more business. It was difficult earlier, but as one grows, so do people’s skills. “It’s very important to understand your market, and your clientele. Hard work pays and good work never comes cheap,” says Poonam.
“Being in the kitchen for long hours is taxing, but as you grow into it, it becomes a way of life,” says Poonam.
Women should be self-sufficient
Poonam says she has always believed that a woman should be self-sufficient and work till her body permits, push herself to the extreme, be it work from home or a fulltime job. “Kids grow and you grow with them but once they are settled in life, it’s only the recognition you build for yourself that stays with you lifelong,” says a practical mother.
Poonam is toying with the idea of starting up an offline retail outlet of her own, but with a young daughter and a husband busy with work assignments, for it to become a reality might take some time.
“But it will surely happen, sooner or later,” concludes Poonam on a positive note.