Career Growth / Women Entrepreneurship

7 mom bakers share tips on running the baking business and being successful

. 11 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
7 mom bakers share tips on running the baking business and being successful

"But how did you start?”

That’s one question that I often find myself asking successful, confident and entrepreneurial women around me. Because it’s that first step that counts right? The drive to want to go somewhere, do something, carve your niche.

For these seven home bakers, it was the drive to turn their passion into a job that led to the first step. It didn’t matter if their first bake was perfect, what mattered was that they kept trying.

Check out these inputs from professional mom bakers on how to run your business, how to market yourself and most importantly, how to follow your dreams.

People love my cakes, should I do this professionally?

Dolly Gulwani – Dessert Box by Dolly

Baking is a form of my self-expression,” shares Dolly Gulwani when asked what drives her to follow her dreams. “Baking makes me happy, and my cakes make others happy. Spreading joy is immensely powerful."

How did she start?

Despite her evident love for creating sweet treats, a career in baking was the last thing on Dolly’s mind when she decided to whip up a basic chocolate cake for her family one night. “I am neither into cooking nor am I a workaholic, so baking wasn’t my thing. But one day, while surfing online, I came across an easy chocolate cake recipe. I decided to try it out, and to my surprise, it turned out to be good, and everyone loved it. It boosted my confidence as well as my interest in baking,” she shares.

What helped her become a professional baker?

One of my friends once asked me to bake for her daughter’s birthday, and I thought of giving it a try. I took my first order, and all appreciated it, and that’s how I got into baking professionally.”

Dolly also took up several short courses once she decided to bake professionally. “I enhanced my cake baking and decorating skills by attending short courses which added to my learning process, and I started executing them in my orders.”

Biggest challenges as a home baker

Some of her significant challenges included “finding retailers for the tools and products, lack of enough storage and workspace in the house, and finding a good delivery service.” However, “with time, things have fallen well into place,” she shares.

Business tip for other mom bakers

Dolly has one easy-to-follow tip: use social media.
Facebook is an integral part of my marketing.”

Should I leave my job to be a baker?

Shruti Makhija – Baked With Love By Shruti

Gurgaon-based baker Shruti Makhija went from being a finance whiz to a professional baker all thanks to her drive to continually learn. “I worked in corporate for almost 14 years, and I loved my job. However, after my second child was born, I took a break. There was no work from home flexibility in my job or any daycare facility near my office campus."

How did she start?

The career break was tough for Shruti; however, she was determined to make good use of the time she had. “Though I had quit my job, I was restless within as to what next. I loved baking healthy cakes for my son, so I planned to take a small step and put up a stall at my society for healthy muffins and savoury crispies. To my surprise, I received a very positive response and a few orders.”

What helped her become a professional baker

I baked my first ever Ragi Chocolate Cookie, and I was amazed to see that wholewheat flour can produce delicious chocolate cookies. I thought to myself why we were letting kids have other cookies full of maida and preservatives instead? Healthy bakes and snacks are the need of the hour. Every mom is on the constant lookout for yummy yet healthy food options for their children.”

Biggest challenges as a home baker

Despite her love for what she does, Shruti has had her fair share of challenges. “I had to find a balance between working single-handedly to manage orders and taking care of my two-year-old baby. Another big issue was exploring cost-effective ways to procure raw materials instead of purchasing them at MRP each time.”

Business tip for other mom bakers

Shruti says you should focus on catering to different markets.

I am planning to scale up my business by providing a regular supply of my healthy goodies at a few playschools. One playschool has asked me to give them birthday cakes every month.” Simple things like getting local shops around the area to stock your products and exploring different markets – she is thinking of providing healthy bites at hospitals – can help increase sales.

I am not perfect at baking. Can I still do this?

Vishaka Rautela – Vishual Foodie

For Mumbai based Vishaka Rautela, baking is therapeutic. “It’s a very calming process and I love having a creative outlet and getting an appreciation for my work.”

How did she start?

Vishaka’s journey towards baking started with a small mission – to bake a cake for her birthday! “About five years ago, I saw a friend’s post with a photo of a chocolate and hazelnut cake. I immediately told her that I wanted to bake a similar cake for my birthday; however, I needed her help since I hadn’t baked before. Well, I made a lot of mistakes, and while the cake wasn’t perfect, it sure was delicious.”

What helped her become a professional baker?

Vishaka feels that the people who trusted in her while she was learning to be a perfect baker are the ones who helped her become who she is today. “My first baking order was for 50 cupcakes, and my client pushed me to make them. Even though the icing was running, she was kind enough to accept it because she trusted that it would taste delicious.”

Biggest challenges as a home baker

One of the biggest challenges is making people understand why your product is not as cheap as the ones you get in the stores. Secondly, it’s terrible when your competitors undercut you. I feel that there should be some standard pricing that we all follow, and we add a higher cost to that depending on our skills and talents.”

Business tip for other mom bakers

Vishaka advises mom bakers to use WhatsApp to their advantage.

I use Instagram and Facebook groups to post photos of my work. What also helped me is uploading pictures of cakes as WhatsApp status. When people see those tempting images, they tend to inquire about my products and even place orders.”

I’ve just started out as a baker. How can I scale up?

Nina Almeida-Dcosta – Bakes From Home

Baking, at one point, was something I never thought I could do because it seemed so tedious. But, as I write this, I am done baking two batches of cookies, baking one teacake, and I have a bread loaf waiting to get into the oven.” Meet Nina Almeida Dcosta, a Mumbai-based professional baker who got in business two years ago.

How did she start?

Last year in June we were planning our son’s first birthday bash, and we wanted to have a photoshoot and a cake smash. My son was entirely off sugar before this, and I wanted a sugar-free cake. I checked around bakeries and other home bakers, but no one could bake something as per my requirement. Then my husband had this idea to buy a convection oven and asked me to bake!" Nina agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What helped her become a professional baker?

For Nina, the shift from a full-time job to being a baker came from the encouragement she got from friends and family. “I used to post my bakes on social media and a few friends suggested taking orders. During Christmas last year, I gave away my baked goodies to my neighbours, and everyone had only good things to say. That encouraged me to extend it to other people and turn it into a business.”

Biggest challenges as a home baker

Homebaking, unfortunately, isn’t taken seriously. People expect stuff at rates that are cheaper than the bakery, which is not feasible because home bakers bake their goodies fresh,” shares Nina. “Also, procuring raw materials and packaging items like boxes, cake boards packets, ziplock bags and carry bags gets difficult. For me, I don’t compromise on the cost of my ingredients because that’s what the customer is paying for. But I face a challenge in procuring good quality but reasonably priced packaging items.”

Business tip for other mom bakers

Nina feels that your focus, when you start, should be on getting word of mouth publicity.

I am starting to look at myself as a businesswoman, and I plan to scale my business. My focus is on getting people to know me and trust me enough to try my bakes.” Nina suggests using social media along with depending on word of mouth publicity until your work is well-established.

How can I expand my business and have my own shop?

Bhavana Vazhayil – Pikaboos

Bhavana Vazhayil always loved baking; however, turning her passion into a profession took some time and encouragement. She started in 2012, and today she has two shops and a brand that has been featured as one of the top cake shops in Thane for two consecutive years.

How did she start

As a child used to bake occasionally with my mother, but the daily grind got the better of my passion. A bit of encouragement from my husband and an OTG (Oven Toaster Griller) as a birthday gift set the ball rolling for me. I started baking for only friends and family initially, but that soon turned it an excellent business opportunity.”

What helped her become a professional baker?

I started as a home baker baking for friends and family, but the appreciation that followed boosted my confidence,” she shares. Once she realised her products were well-loved, Bhavana decided to go professional.

Biggest challenges as a home baker

Explaining the challenges of working in an unorganised industry, she says competing with well-established bakeries is a constant challenge. “Meeting the multiple agreements required to be an organised and fully compliant bakery and that too without any mentor was also a huge challenge for me.”

Business tip for other mom bakers

Bhavana feels that it’s vital to have a strong presence across multiple social media. “The virtual world has a very strong sphere of influence.”

My kids are grown up. Can I start baking professionally now or is it too late?

Jyoti Agarwal – Joyo’s Kitchen

Joyo’s Kitchen is my baby,” is the first thing Jyoti Agarwal tells us when we asked her about her journey. It was after the birth of her two kids, Sneha and Rohan that Jyoti decided to bake.

How did she start?

Just like all moms, I still go way beyond to make my kids’ meals interesting as well as full of nourishment,” she shares. Between balancing her job as a teacher, conducting art workshops and running a household, Jyoti continued to bake for her family for years.

What helped her become a professional baker?

It is only recently – May 2017 – that Jyoti took a step ahead and got the tag of being a professional baker. She credits her kids for pushing her to do so. “Both Sneha and Rohan gave me the idea to venture into running a home kitchen, and it definitely pleased me. I finally could get a place where I could craft food.”

Her first order was quite unusual – a ras malai cake. “Being born and brought up in the Rasgulla capital of India, I knew the taste, texture, feel and emotion of the delicacy. Still turning it into a cake was very unusual. I still remember the nervousness and joy. I had personally gone to deliver the cake too.”

Biggest challenges as a home baker

I am a self-taught, self-made woman.” Apart from the difficulties of setting up shop, Jyoti also had a hard time marketing herself. “I had no idea about how to even post on FB. Both my kids refused to help and instead pushed me to learn things on my own. Single-handedly running the show is still a big challenge from procuring raw materials, cleaning them, sorting, arranging, baking, packing and even delivering at times.”

Business tip for other mom bakers

Jyoti feels it’s important to continuously put yourself out there, check your competition and learn new things.

I actively participate in baking competitions. Trust me working in a professional set up is so challenging than the ones at home, and it is truly a learning experience.”

Can I start a baking business with a friend/partner?

Shweta Prabhu and Kasturi Chafekar – KASHWE’S Bakes & Makes

Shweta Prabhu and Kasturi Chafekar make for a great duo when it comes to managing their business. Shweta, who is balancing her passion project of baking with a full-time job as a lawyer, finds immense support in Kasturi who takes charge on a daily basis.

While I love my profession, it gets mentally exhausting, and that’s where baking comes in,” shares Shweta. Her partner Kasturi adds, “I have been a homemaker since last 16 years. Baking has brought in so much joy in my otherwise mundane life."

How did they start?

My husband and my daughter insisted that I take this up commercially, but I also love my job. Without giving that up, I could not do this.”

Enter Kasturi. “My children have grown up, and I have some extra time on my hands now. I have always enjoyed cooking and baking. However, I always felt that I could do a lot more than what I have been doing, but I never had the confidence to start anything on my own."

What helped them become professional bakers?

It was Shweta who suggested that the two of them come together for their passion. “Since Shweta did not want to give her job up and I need a support system we decided to take our friendship a step further, and that’s how it all started,” shares Kasturi.

Biggest challenges as a home baker

When we started baking, people hesitated to pay us. They thought that since we are home bakers, we should be providing bakes at a cheaper rate. Also, since it is not an organised setup, people believe they can easily haggle.”

Business tip for other mom bakers

The two are using social media to make their dreams come true.

Social media is where we publicise ourselves. It’s also important to ensure that not only do your loyal customers come back, but they also get more people.”