- By Rima Chakraborty
When I first Ms. Radha Dhaka, owner at La Petite Meringue, one of the top 10 cake artists in India and sculptor, I thought she was the Stacy DeNovo from The Princess Switch, who was the most talented baker in town and won the most prestigious baking competition in the Kingdom of Belgravia. Her workmanship makes her wonderfully stand out. So much love and a little piece of her goes in every cake. And how can one even miss her state of the art cakes? Our team recently got the opportunity to meet her for lunch and I kid you not, she has a persona that could cast a spell on anybody, literally anybody! Over the course of about an hour, we talked about everything from her journey as a baker to all the tips and tricks she adopted to reach where she is today. There are some of the highlights of our conversation:
1. When did you first realise you wanted to pursue baking and cake decorating?
I've been a hobby baker for nearly three decades. But the transition to commercial baking has been gradual. I started decorating cakes for my kid's birthdays and really loved the medium. Then I decided to get into the business full-fledged.
2. How was your journey since then until now?
I've been very lucky that my work has been very well appreciated and my clients have always given me the freedom to showcase my art in their cakes. The learning has been huge in many areas, not just baking or cake decorating but also how to handle clients, how to organise and manage orders, inventory management, pricing and using social media to reach out and showcase my work.
3. What was the hardest part of this journey and how did you overcome those challenges?
There have been many challenges at every stage of my journey. The most challenging was that being an artist with no business background I had to learn the ropes by myself. It was by trial and error method but in the end when you follow your passion and work hard things fall in place.
4. What is your single biggest achievement till date and did your family play any role in that?
My biggest achievement is being chosen as India's top 10 Cake Artist of India 2018. It is an incredible honour and I couldn't have achieved it without my family's support and encouragement.
5. What's the hardest thing about being a home baker?
Being a one-woman show I think is the biggest challenge for me. Everything right from baking and decorating to sourcing the best ingredients to handling client demands to handling social media to delivering the cakes to every role that this business demand is done single-handedly. And this is apart from our duties towards our family.
6. Any tips for our bakers on how to price cakes?
The first logical step would be to create a menu for yourself. It need not be elaborate but even a few flavours that one is comfortable with will be good. Next step is calculating the cost of making those recipes and finally, cost of decorating. Add to that the other incidental expenses like electricity, transport etc. This gives the base price for the cakes. Then based on your skill level add your charges and profit. Never underestimate your work, and never undercut. It's only detrimental in the long term.
7. Have you ever done any marketing strategy to promote your brand?
I've never promoted my brand. It has been mostly word of mouth. I'm still learning to use social media to better my brand.
8. How do you stay up to date on the latest trends in cakes?
By subscribing to good cake magazines and websites and following talented artists online. I also don't hesitate to attend classes by experts to learn new things and increase my knowledge.
9. When and why should consumers buy cakes from Home bakers and not bakeries?
Home baking means made at home with a sprinkling of love. It's much more hygienic, made using the best quality ingredients.
10. How are home bakers from Hyderabad different from other Indian cities?
Though home baking business as such is an unorganized sector, home bakers in Hyderabad are one big family. They help and inspire each other.
11. Who do you look up to into this industry and why?
There are way too many to even start mentioning. I'm inspired by so many phenomenally talented international as well as Indian artists.
12. What advice would you give to aspirants bakers who want to pursue a career in baking?
Believe in yourself. Be the best version of yourself and don't compare with others. Never stop learning and practising. Success will be inevitable. All the best!
That was Ms. Radha Dhaka, all uncut for you lovely bakers and fans out there. She is an inspiration for all the baking enthusiasts and every word in the above interview truly depicts the same.To keep getting inspired, do not miss out to get the latest updates on our events, blogs and newsletters on https://homebakers.co.in