by Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Shweta Somaiya is a Top 10 Cake Artist of 2019, and runs her own brand called Signature Cakes By Shweta. A Hotel Management graduate from IHM, Mumbai, baking was always her passion and she has always loved making cakes for her friends and family. Her journey as a professional cake decorator started 6 years ago when she fell in love with all things sugarcraft. Making sugar flowers and wedding cakes fascinated her and from then on she began teaching herself through YouTube videos and trial and error. Her speciality is wedding cakes, with the gold accents being her favourite part! We had a chance to chat with her and get to know about all things baking.
1. How was life pre-baking and how has baking shaped it to be now?
Pre baking life to the one now has been a roller coaster ride for me. A homemaker with two beautiful children transformed into a Home baker and a Tutor! From working in whatever space one could find in the house, having your baking stash stored in all kinds of makeshift boxes to making a studio for myself, the journey was nothing but an uphill climb. To be known across the country and being an inspiration to many changed my life in a lot of ways.
2. What were the initial difficulties that you faced and how has it helped you become the baker you have become today?
The initial journey was very difficult. Firstly I would operate with limited space. I guess most of us home bakers began our journey that way. To make a mark in the market and gain confidence with the clients was a challenge. To get new clients is much easier than getting repeat orders. I have been fortunate with clients who have been with me since the beginning of my cake journey and still continue to show their support.
There have been many for whom I did wedding cakes to their baby shower cakes and even their kid’s 1st birthday cakes! Another major difficulty faced back then was getting hands-on raw materials and sugarcraft tools which had to be procured from overseas. Thanks to lots of retailers now who have got these into our markets, as the life of bakers has become easier. Not many clients knew the concept of theme cakes and wedding cakes, so getting the price value for your work was also very difficult. Yet these challenges made me work around them and it’s the journey that I will cherish always.
3. What do you think were the key factors that helped you gain the well-deserved title of a Top 10 Cake Artist?
Top 10 India 2019! It has been such a proud moment. It feels like you have been rewarded for all the hard work and the struggle you put yourself through to reach where you are today. There have been many factors which I would give credit to for this acclaim. Firstly it would the consistency in my work and a style that became my signature one over the years. The finesse in my cakes has always been my USP. Never worked to be competitive. Always treated every cake as important as my first one. Apart from this, taking part in international collaborations, doing tutorials for magazines and posting work on international forums helped me with my work.
4. What are some things in your life that have changed ever since the Top 10 Cake Artist acclaim?
The feeling of being Top 10 is yet to sink in. The congratulatory messages haven’t stopped since. To have achieved a place amongst artists across the country makes all the hard work worthwhile. When your family and friends boast of your achievements and your kids look up to you with immense pride the feeling is unmatchable. I am looking forward to being a part of baking events now that have been connected to a wider audience thanks to these events.
5. What is your experience as a baker who also takes classes? What are some important lessons you have learned from your students?
Teaching is one of the things I love the most apart from creating cakes. It not only connects me to students from across cities but it also has given me the opportunity to travel to a couple of places to conduct workshops. You not only learn from these students and their experiences but helping them overcome their challenges in cake making does help you also grow as a tutor. I take pride in saying I was one of the very few bakers who started using Colored Ganache as a medium in theme cakes and wedding cakes and also started teaching it. It became a rage and I was then called “The Colored Ganache Queen!” As a tutor it is very important you keep learning new techniques so that you can pass it on to your students and so that the learning never stops.
6. Do you have any upcoming workshops that our bakers and readers can take part in?
We do have a lot of workshops lined up. Basic fondant, flowers, wedding cakes and also basic baking workshops. All the new and upcoming workshops will be updated on my page.
7. Where do you think the home baking industry of India is heading? What do you think the future holds?
With so many talented tutors and state of the art schools, many talented artists are churned out every year. Home baking is set to become one of the biggest industries. More and more people are turning to home bakers rather than retail shops. The market is huge as there are thousands of bakers across the country. Having said that there is an alarming sign with so much cut-throat competition. Lots of bakers, just to get business, sell their cakes at extremely low margins. Some compromise on the quality, the one thing that sets us, home bakers, apart from retail outlets. A body governing the price regulation and ethical conduct is the need of the hour for this ever-growing industry.
8. How was your experience on being featured on large scale platforms like Satin Ice?
Taking part in collaborations across the globe and having my work featured on big platforms like Satin Ice has been overwhelming. To be recognized globally and be given credit to your work makes you humble and yet I strive to work harder with my every cake. Here are some of my cakes that have been featured on Satin Ice.
9. What do you think of homebakers.co.in as a platform that connects bakers and customers? What effect do you think it will have on the industry?
Homebakers.co.in is an innovative concept that has united bakers and retailers across the country, a common platform to showcase their products and workshops. This is beneficial to the bakers as well the prospective clients as it will give them an opportunity to select from a range of ideas and concepts and give bakers a wider audience. They have conducted shows successfully across cities and wish them well in continuing to do so!
10. We are conducting a Top 100 home bakers and baking brands awards this month. How do you think this will help the industry and the home bakers?
TOP 100 India! That’s something! Getting accolades for your work and to be chosen by the best in the industry will push the bakers to give the best in their work and strive harder. The retailers getting recognition for their product will help getting better products in the market and also a wider audience to these retailers. This will surely help the industry grow.
That was Shweta Somaiya. It's a truly inspiring story for all the home bakers and cake artists. Here are some of her creations.
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India's 100 Top Home Bakers & The Best Baking Brands
It's about time that INDIA'S TOP 100 BAKERS & BAKING SUPPLY BRANDS from North to South, East to West are recognised. Eighteen industry stalwarts (Top cake artists, cake makers and chefs) from across the country with varying skills and background will find these bakers and brands through a detailed well defined and rigorous evaluation process, as we are certainly looking for nothing but the BEST.
The nomination process is now open and will remain open until 10th November 2019, 11:59 pm. No entries after the last date will be accepted. This is a self-nomination form that needs to be completed by home bakers who wish to be part of the study. The person nominated must be – at least 18 years of age, a resident of India, and a home baker with no commercial bakery store. To apply, go to http://bit.ly/india_top_bakers_brands