Foodpreneurs: from the cosy confines of their kitchens to making deliveries in the real worldKasvi Malhotra
With the home-baking industry on the verge of becoming mainstream, here's a peek into our conversation with three passionate home bakers who share their secrets, interests, and journey.
If one's inclination is to bake and cook, it is usually sparked off by nostalgic childhood instances of tailing mummy in the kitchen, watching her artistic hands with awe as she fills the kitchen with a combination of delicious aromas. Soon enough, you help her bottle jars of homemade jam, become her official stirrer of sauces and, the next thing you know, you've mastered the art of cooking food for people and are now passing on the secrets of the trade to your own child.
But some choose a different route by channeling this passion into something so seemingly ordinary into something truly extraordinary. Presenting the new age of foodpreneurs who transfer the magic conceived in their kitchens to the real world and are now giving professional bakeries a run for their money. The three were part of the foodpreneur showcase at the YourStory and Kalaari Capital 'Together for change' event recently.
Here's a peek into our conversations with them.
UpCakes is a Bengaluru-based company whose founder is out there breaking all the stereotypes. Akshata Nagendra, at the ripe age of 21, believes that she isn't just selling food and cakes, but rather 'an experience' to her buyers. Despite starting this venture only a month ago, she's already taking on orders as big as 350 cupcakes for a casino-themed sixtieth birthday party!
Currently, power housing a one-woman army, Akshata dreams of expanding and truly reaching out to the underprivileged sections of Bengaluru one day, hoping to arm them with basic culinary skills, and thus empowering them with a means for survival.
I think the competition is definitely one of the harder aspects, especially considering there are so many home bakers out there. A lot of the time people don't take me seriously because of how young I am, but I hope that changes.
Despite the challenges that come with her chosen path, Akshata is determined to make it in the field. She recounts childhood memories of having no one to turn to for advice and help since no one baked in her family. But she is far from inexperienced. Having attended a course at the Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts and armed with work experience at The Oberoi Group, this 21-year-old is undeniably someone to watch out for.
Shreya Demonte, 32, currently working in a coffee based company operates Sugar Dust on the side. But don't suspect her of having any less dedication towards the business. "I come back from work and I go straight to the kitchen and get cracking, usually crash at about one am, and then I'm back up at about five am," she quips. Well, that definitely sounds like an exhausting schedule, but Shreya disagrees: "It's all about your passion and my passion for baking drives me, no matter how hectic the schedule may seem."
The origins of her company date back to a childhood knack for baking, but more so as she received innumerable orders from friends and families for cakes and baked goods. The idea of converting her passion into a profitable business stemmed from her loved ones forcing her to take money for her delicious concoctions.
Upon questioned about the difficulties she faces as a result of the industry becoming far more widespread and established, Shreya confidently claims that the love and the personalisation that comes from a home baker's products far surpass those that originate at a professional bakery.
"Whenever customers place an order, I try everything I can to stick to that customised image of the cake they have in their minds and deliver," she explains.
Currently operating alone, Shreya too has big plans for the future but is right now concentrating on delivering the orders that are piling up. She encourages female entrepreneurs and home bakers to go out there and take the risk, because she took the plunge three months ago, and is now living the life of her dreams.
Driven by her passion for providing organic, healthy food combined with a strong desire to make a difference to people's life, Durga Menon began Lluvia Bakery almost seven years ago. Back then when 'organic food' was practically unheard of, she dared to rise to the occasion and also declared her bakery to be an official 'social enterprise' that hired and trained people from economically-challenged families 'in baking for sustenance'.
Durga led a comfortable life as a software engineer in the USA for 12 years before realising that she had not quite found her calling. The lack of challenge and societal contribution in her previous job compelled her to take the leap along with her husband, and in a year, they sold their house in the US, and were back home, with a new goal in mind- to bake healthy and to help society! Now, 44, she looks back at the challenging journey and is grateful for the decision she made.
"Our organic food was very early for the market, it was a huge struggle to keep the company afloat. Even now we're finding our niche. Establishing authenticity was a challenge," Durga says.
Her company specialises in providing training in baking and soft skills such as marketing to underprvileged people and all profits go towards hiring more of these workers.
As to why she chose to plunge into this particular field, Durga recalls her school days where her mother's black forest cake,(with bleached flour, brandy, and fluff- the whole deal) ironically instilled in her a love for healthy foods. She believes that one must back one's own ideas, no matter what the odds are, in order to taste success and find good fortune.
The stories of these three women only serve as inspiration for those holding back, afraid to take the plunge and do what they love and believe in. These women stand testimony to the fact that following one's passion has its benefits and will lead to you leading a more happy, fulfilled life.