Indians can never fall short of a celebration; we all know that for a fact. No matter what the occasion is, meetha toh banta hai boss! Not only children but people of all age groups are seen in long queues, hovering with plates in hand at the sweet counter during weddings and celebrations. Along with crowd at toe you would also spot this extremely happy overweight kid with a plate full of treats. And that extremely happy kid at one point in time was ME!
So you see, my love for pastries did not grow overnight. I did digress for a while, when I took veterinary in my degree college. However, I have now made peace with the two. The night before every exam and practical I armored myself with a tray full of cupcakes… sometimes more, to fight stress and anxiety. Even after a quarrel with my little sister back home, my desserts never failed to lift up my spirit. They have stood by in my thickest and thinnest, just like my truest friend. It wasn’t just me, a lot of friends felt the same about this little bundle of joy and sweet goodness. This idea soon got me baking at home for the family first and then for my friends. The moment I started gaining brownie points for my efforts, I thought of taking this business seriously.
The market of customized cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macaroons might be new to us in India, but it isn’t any less competitive. Good ol Bombay is one such city where you’ll find a baker operating from home or having a cosy shop at almost every second turn on the street. This amazing city has the capacity and the big bigheartedness to make place for amateurs and professionals alike. Depending on the variety, the taste and the marketing strategies these places offer, everyone picks up their favorite.
Who was I then? Just another baker (21 year old at that) trying to sell ONE.MORE.BITE to a customer. I had to be creative beyond the dough. When I began to think as a customer myself, the tension soon calmed down. I gave my cakes an identity and a tagline to go with – ONE.MORE.BITE ‘because it’s never enough!’ And I don’t need to elaborate on that. Every single person’s sweet tooth will stand up in my defense.
My next step was to approach people and the right ones at that. I began with my age group first. Recession hits the pocket often at this age. So to make outings cost-effective, you would often see a pastry ease itself in at a café over long conversations. But when it’s a celebration nobody wants to compromise. My young customers then come up with a budget that is especially for their cakes. And I have no reason to complain about it! But sometimes a constrained budget makes for an interesting challenge. My rule book allows me all the creative freedom as an artist, except for two- TIME AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION. Then whether you’re a nagging customer or an extremely picky one, I don’t care. If the above two are sorted, my hands can do wonders. Actually I do care (shy coyly to myself) customer satisfaction is the ultimate golden rule…
This small endeavor also bought to my attention that the market… especially in a city like Mumbai, has the ability to accept. New taste buds have evolved. People ask for new and do not shy away from trying anything that is visually interesting. Peanut butter and white forest cakes, seasonal cakes like mango and sitafal are a huge hit. Infact some seasonal cakes like the one with mangoes, did better sale than the popular cakes with fondant and butter cream icing. My ruffles and rose swirl icing are also doing the rounds of various parties and celebrations. Chocolate chip cookies were discovered by accident, but mine weren’t. I thoroughly looked into them. Especially the nutella filled cookies, which you will rarely find at another bakery or pastry shop. Even cake balls, cake pops, cakesicles are moving fast on the baking ladder. These smashed balls of cake are smashing orders at birthday parties and other celebrations.
What else do you need when you have your sorrows taken care of and exhilaration doubled? There is a treat for every occasion now… the city and its people have made it possible for me. So don’t think before buying happiness, especially when you’re thinking of just ONE.MORE.BITE.
- By Zahra Thakur
Address: A-901, Baag-e-Rehmat, Agripada, Meghraj Sethi Marg, Mumbai