Baking her way through Cream Cheese Frosting and Barbie Cakes.

Want to become an Entrepreneur ? Take inspiration !

A dear friend started her own venture a couple of months back. She was never the shy kind of person, but when I heard she actually started something on her own, I was pleasantly surprised. She started baking ! (The first thought that crossed my mind was, okay, a little apologetically, hoping for free cakes for the rest of my life)
She had quit her full time job and started with taking orders from friends. She says that friends and family are the most important link when starting something new - for all the support and good will ! 

In my attempt to support entrepreneurs, or those who've chosen an alternative path and to help/inspire those on the verge of taking that leap of faith, here's the first interview with Soni Thomas. This is a follow up from my first post Irony of Alternate Paths in India.

1. So, first questions first, why did you take up engineering after school?

Engineering was truly not my cup of tea. After schooling I was actually confused, in fact I wasn't sure of what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to do law (adv), I wanted to take up journalism, architecture, it was a mixture of lot of things and when I presented this before my dad, he said you are confused, go do engineering like what your brother did. Since I wasn't keen on anything, I went ahead. That is my engineering story.

2. You worked as an SEO specialist in Infopark, how was the experience?

SEO is a vast subject. It was really an interesting profession. I was trained for 6 months and then I learnt my job. I was mainly doing the content optimization and keyword marketing - this was my role. Every company was different hence every subject I wrote about was new to me. I could learn a lot of new stuff and gather knowledge.

3. After you quit your job, what made you decide to start Cakemantra?

Frankly speaking this wasn't my plan. I really don't know how everything connected. Because I am not a person who cooks. Weekends I enter the kitchen to make something different for lunch and maybe one sweet dish of my choice. I used to bake from the beginning but nothing was perfect. I would like to mention here, Sonal Aunty, my close friend's mom who gave me my 1st cake recipe by Pillsbury instant chocolate cake mix back in college. Thank you Aunty that was my 1st ever baking experience. But at that time it didn't work for me.

I thought maybe there is something different from what I was doing and I had to learn. So the thought of improving was always there on my mind. I saw a lot of cakes baked by professionals and I used to get inspired and wonder how they did. Finally I decided to go to Candida Rodrigues, a friend, who herself is a professional home baker. Then I just thought why don't I also start up a business. Let's see how it goes and that's how Cakemantra was launched. 
I suggest that if you are serious about learning something new, do go to a professional - that way you will get your fundamentals right.

4. How did your parents, family and friends take your decision?

This was the best part for once, as no one was against my decision. Everybody was really supportive and happy. But yeah, the older people in our family back in Kerala thought it's something to do with a bakery, and that it's degrading work, so it took time for me to make them understand the real difference of a home baker and a bakery.
Now all are happy, and so am I :)

5. Did you always like designing clothes and baking?

As I said I did like baking but as a profession I had never had any clue that I wanted to do this and clothes I guess somewhere I wanted to. I design and customize salwars, sarees. But I am keener on doing crocheted fabrics like baby dress, bags, tops, skirts etc
So now Olio creations is basically the fabric section and Cakemantra is my cake section. Work is still going on under both categories.

6. Finally, what is Cakemantra about?

Cakemantra from scratch, is a Dessert Boutique specializing in unique, hand-crafted,- Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, Puddings, Gourmet Dessert Cakes and much more! We have our wide dessert collection which is your one stop dessert shop for customized desserts purely fresh and home baked !
At Cakemantra we, maintain high standards of quality, by using only the “finest of ingredients”.
We are unique as we are one among the home bakers who provide sugar free cakes in Cochin. Kerala is known for diabetic patients and here we also cater to them with a slice of heaven from Cakemantra. We provide vegan and eggless cakes too for those sweet toothed shaakahaaris ;)

7. How do you react when a close friend/relative asks for discounts?

Discounts are something everyone looks for; obviously friends / family make it a point to ask for discounts. Trust me it's not easy to say NO to especially close friends and family. It takes a toll on we home bakers to explain the reason for the rate difference when they bring the rate card of a bakery and ask us why we are overpriced. Friends and family who are reading this interview please make a note of this question and understand the troublesome situation you guys put us in ;)

8. What would you say to someone who wants to start something but is scared of the risk involved?

You should very well know what you are getting into, learn your real business, your competitors. Most importantly you have to be genuine and true to yourself. 
The initial stages is where you have to struggle maximum, no matter what, there is no easy way for that. Everyone goes through it. Verbal communication itself is the best marketing strategy you need to adopt - to spread word of mouth.
You need to be very confident, because until you start, you'll only be dreaming of the demons in your head. You need to get out and start doing it.

The first time I got an order, the first time a client told me they loved my cake, my first workshop - all these instilled in me more faith. It's not magical, but all worth it in the end.

We wish you all the best Soni :)

PS - guys, she's doing some great stuff at Cakemantra. And her cakes are yumm ! Do give them a try :)
Edited by Shruti Shah

1 comment

  1. AnonymousMay 06, 2015

    Apart from just writing, you can convert your blogger blog to wordpress and start placing ads onto it . Earn if you are writing so much and so well!