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Baking to glory in Mahe

For Shirin Sahana, baking was just a hobby that gradually became a business model despite resistance from her parents. Three years since she took the plunge, she is now conducting classes on how to whip up perfect cakes.

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Here Shirin tells the tale.

Baking is not just a profession, but a passion. Though I used to make cakes at home, I never thought of turning that into a profession. The defining point happened three years ago when I made a cake for my younger brother's friend and sold it. They all loved it and it was then my elder brother urged to turn this passion into a small-scale business. But I had no idea how to sell and market them. There was a baking competition at Thalassery and I decided to take part in it. Without any prior knowledge, I made my first fondant cake and took it for the competition where I got the second prize for the cake. From that moment, I knew this could be my career choice.

The first step, in 2017, was to create an Instagram page (Instagram @__cakes_and_bakes) with the help of my younger brother. I went to a shop and purchased a few essential tools and equipment required for baking. Then I told my friends and relatives about my new venture. Word spread, and after a few days, somebody from Mahe gave me an order for her daughter's birthday. I accepted the order, with fear and trepidation. I had no idea about the expenses or even how much should I charge it, but I decided to make it irrespective of profit or loss. I just made the cake and had it decorated as per the customer's choice. To my surprise, and relief, they liked my cake and yes, that was when I decided that I was here to stay.

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There were not many baking classes in our locality. I kept asking so many small bakers whether anybody can take a personal/group class for me. At that time, nobody from Mahe and Thalasery was taking classes frequently. Then I messaged a team from Thrissur to conduct a baking workshop in Thalassery. Finally, the wait was over. I attended my first baking class in Thalassery. During this time, I started getting orders mainly through Instagram. The fact about baking is that you will learn more and more from each order. Even if you attend a professional baking class, you can attain perfection in finishing only though real orders.

After attending baking workshops at Thalassery, I thought of conducting classes from my home. At first, there was no one to support me. My mother frankly thought it was all waste of money and it would not bring any revenue. She got really worried when I started skipping breakfast and lunch whenever I got an order. But I sustained.

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If it is a big cake, one whole day is required. Finally, I decided to conduct a class myself. For the first class, 15 persons registered for the class. The day before my first baking class, I think I didn't sleep at all. I had to prepare a few things for my class the previous day. With great fear, I conducted my first workshop, but the class was a big hit. Every student was fully satisfied and happy with the class. After my first class, I thought to focus more on workshops rather than orders. Because the reviews and feedback after the classes made me happier than anything. A few months before, I was a person who was searching for a baking class in our locality and now I am taking classes for more than 150 students. Now, my parents are also urging others, mostly housewives, to take baking classes. Even I did not expect such a turn-around.

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I have conducted around 10 workshops and taught more than 150 students. My class is mostly aimed at beginners. We also train students on how to market cakes.

If you are interested in baking, you may contact Shirin Shahana at 8606592235.

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