- By Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Sheri Tanya Naraine is a 41 year old from New York. She moved to India with her husband and 3 children. She currently lives in Bangalore and runs her home baking business here. She’s a stay at home mom who just so happened to find a niche in cake baking and decorating. This worked out as a great outlet for her love for making and sharing anything on a plate for her loved ones.
1. Tell us a bit about how your venture started out!
I started out in November 2011, when my daughter was turning 1, here in India. I set out to make her first birthday cake as I didn’t like the cake offerings here. All the designs were just as pedestrian as the next one. So I wanted to create a fancy fondant cake. It took about 2 weeks to gather the hard to find ingredients, but I accomplished what I set out to create. I was happy but I needed more training, that’s when I thought that I should come back home to New York and take proper classes to hone a skill I was acquiring.
2. What were the initial difficulties that you faced, and how has it helped you become the baker that you are today?
Initial difficulties were regarding certain designs which were beyond my skill levels; I would take on projects that I thought I could do but when I actually performed the task at hand, I bit off more than I could chew. Timing had all to do with it as well; I needed to work out how I could execute certain orders within a realistic time frame, right from the research and preparation to the actual day of starting. All this worked out as I got more experience doing this.
3. How do you decide on pricing? Do you have issues like customers comparing your price to stores and asking for lower prices?
My pricing is two-fold. When I was in New York, I based it on locality and what the market was doing. It’s only when I moved to India is when I learned to figure out pricing this way and work with the mentality of the customer base and how they were used to not only pricing but what is being offered. My offerings aren’t what is being done here so I had to change things up. Customers are certainly always comparing and questioning why custom made home bakes are priced the way they are, and that’s where I step up and defend the craft.
4. What is your signature dish and why do you love baking it?Back in New York, it was my lemon cake with fresh strawberries filling. After moving to India, I created a pina colada tres leches cake. I love baking it because it allowed me to create something out of my craving and go past something ordinary or what’s already been done. Also, it’s a major hit with my family and neighbours!
5. What are the stark differences between New York and Bangalore in terms of the kinds of baking tools and ingredients that you can find? Do you think the prices and quality are comparable?
The stark difference is mainly availability. I am often challenged with easy to find supplies from cake boards/drums to certain supplies as I could easily obtain them back home. Put simply, everything was available in-store or through baking supply websites and even Amazon back home. Bangalore has limited availability and sad to say, what is available are subpar in quality. Although they are good enough, when you are used to better quality and availability, you tend to get spoiled. But nonetheless, it’s not a bother nor a hindrance in the process.
6. Do you face any challenge with delivery? How do you manage your deliveries?
I haven’t faced any challenges with delivery so far.
7. What are your top three tips for any aspiring baker?
- Do the work, practice and know when you’re ready to start a business
- Know your self-worth, after becoming a business, knowing the work you’ve put in
- Have fun with this and let it bring you happiness. The day we learn to enjoy what we do, we will not call it work but more a labour of love!
That was Tanya, a truly inspiring story for all you lovely bakers and fans out there.
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