- By Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Aashu Shah, a home baker from Hyderabad and the owner of the home studio Cakes A'Fair, has been baking for 4 years, and specialises in all types of cakes - most of her orders happen to be theme-based and designer ones such as wedding cakes. She is a trained Fashion Designer and previously ran a Ladies Tailoring Unit and undertook orders for uniforms for Hotels and Retail Chains. She took a break from her job and quickly found her passion for baking, which she then converted into her full-time job. We got the chance to interview her as a part of our initiative to interview home bakers across India and to give them a platform to share their journey!
1. Tell us a bit about how your venture started out!
I started my baking journey in Kolkata when I began to experiment with baking. I remember that I used to try to make 6 to 8 cakes in one day, all for practice. My first cake which turned out good enough to be professional was a fondant cake, which I made for my daughter's birthday party. It was a hit among our guests and that is where my journey began as a home baker. It was the start of a journey with cakes and the world knows it now as Cakes A'Fair.
2. What were the initial difficulties that you faced, and how has it helped you become the baker you are today?
Among the initial difficulties I had faced, the truly testing ones were getting the consistency in weight, texture, sharp edges and other detailing right. But with time and practice, and with the help of expert advice on YouTube, I learnt the art of consistency and what was once difficult came easily to me.
3. How do you decide on pricing? Do you have issues like customers comparing your price to stores and asking for lower prices?
Yes, clients always compare our prices to bakeries but I believe that the quality of your products will speak for itself. I tell my customers to first taste my cake and pay only if they like it. Overall, I decide to price based on the design, ingredients and the effort involved. I also take into consideration the market/store price for a similar offering.
4. What is your signature dish and why do you love baking it?
I love everything I bake and always try to give it my best to meet the requirements of my clients. However, over a period of time, my Mixed Fresh Fruits Dome/3D Cake has been loved and appreciated by my clients of all age groups and it has become my signature dish.
5. Do you face any challenge with delivery? How do you manage your deliveries?
Managing deliveries is a challenge. I remember those days when we used to go far to deliver our cakes, not for profit but to deliver our taste. Currently, my husband and I deliver our cakes within manageable distances and a few clients pick it up themselves. For others, I use Uber or Ola to send my cakes, but there is always the worry that the cake may get damaged. I continue to look out for options in this space.
6. What are your top three tips for any aspiring baker?
My top 3 tips for any aspiring baker would be
- Never stop learning: Baking is like an ocean. New techniques and innovations crop up every day, so keep learning.
- Deliver the best: Never compromise on the quality of your ingredients, as it is the quality and taste which bring customers back to you.
- Never give up: This is a demanding journey and you will face your set of failures. Be prepared to put in hard work as it will always translate into success.
That was Aashu Shah, all uncut for you lovely bakers and fans out there. She is a true inspiration and her ideas and patience make her stand out.
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