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23-yr-old sold nearly 1,000 cakes in 15 months!

Entrepreneurs can be classified into two categories. The first constitutes people who faced hardships in their early days which ignited the entrepreneur in them; the second includes a bunch of people who strive to make the world a better place. Shilpa Susan Babu, a young and fiery spirited lady entrepreneur, fits more into the second category. Shilpa, who manufactures cakes in different variants under the brand, 'The Dessert Palette' is a women entrepreneur who turned her passion into her profession.

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Hailing from Kolenchery, a remote destination in Ernakulam district, Shilpa invests a major share of her time into baking. She is equipped with a regular kitchen area and exceptional skills in baking. Shilpa makes personalized cakes even in short notice and at times, delivers them to customer's doorsteps. If it amuses you, this young entrepreneur is in her early twenties, currently pursuing her studies and yet, she made and sold over '950' cakes in just 15 months!

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Cooking became a lifeline for Shilpa since her higher secondary school period. Much before internet invaded our homes and lives, Shilpa learnt the basics of advanced levels of cooking through recipe sections in magazines. She started off assisting her mother in the kitchen. By the time she was in Class XII, Shilpa had already collected close to 1,000 recipes from various sources. During her graduation days, she tried to focus on bettering her skills.

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Shilpa used to put pictures of new dishes made by her as WhatsApp status for suggestions. With Instagram getting viral among youth, Shilpa used the platform to don the role of a food blogger. Though she started off with regular homely eatery, her ability in making the best of cakes was yet to be discovered.

In her third year of graduation, she underwent a brief course on Food Science, which made her realize various aspects of 'cakemaking'. She tried making a cake for the first time on her birthday in 2018. Later on, she occasionally made cakes during family functions. On her younger brother's birthday, she made him a football-themed cake which Shilpa claims to be her professional experience. The cake was made of basic ingredients. Like usual, she posted nice pictures of the cake on Instagram. However, a contact of her enquired where she bought the cake from in a comment for the post, she was excited and confused since this would be the first 'possible-official feedback' for her cake. She replied personally to the person about the whole process. Then, the person asked if she could make a thematic cake for them too. However, she initially declined the offer.

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Shilpa recounts the reason behind rejecting the offer: "Unlike with food items such as biryani and chicken curry, making and delivering a cake is a complex procedure. Unlike curries, cakes need packagings of correct measurements and dimensions. I wasn't prepared enough for it then."

But motivated by the support from her family, Shilpa changed her decision and took the offer. She managed to deliver the product though she was tensed. In those times, her family was her biggest support. They helped her in every step, from delivering cakes to helping in the kitchen.

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In the initial stage, she made cakes with minimum ingredients. Once she started making profit, she graduated to better utensils and experiments. Starting off with basic cakes having simple designs, today she creates varieties of cakes.

For bakers, the Christmas season means business. Shilpa seconds the fact. Even though she started her venture in June, time flew like a Jetplane and before she knew, December was on the doorstep. In her first Christmas season, orders started pouring in by late November. She expected fewer number of orders since it has been only months since she started off. But contradictory to her expectations, orders came plenty. And her schedule tightened. She literally had a sleepless month in December. But she wasn't alone. Her family was there by her side, doing their bit to make her first season a grand success. And their efforts came fruitful through a profitable Christmas season. Shilpa adds that all the hurry and tension at seasons are inevitable and surviving it reassured her confidence in the venture.

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Her business had a big role in reshaping her personality, says Shilpa. By fighting all challenges to push her venture to success, she strengthened her faith and confidence in herself. Baking business provided an opportunity for Shilpa to understand people better. She bettered her communication skills, learnt how to deal with different kinds of people. Also she says that she is enjoying the freedom which an earning woman gets.

Apart from social media, word of mouth spread and Shilpa's mobile started to flood with requests for cake. She started her business from a Rs. 700 as capital to buy ingredients. Good reviews for her cake boosted her confidence in the venture. At the completion of one year of her business, Shilpa brought her business to the next level by preparing brochures, expanding her product offering, participating in various bake sales and exhibitions.

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Dessert Palette produces regular cakes, mini cakes, jar cakes, thematic cakes and more. Shilpa even tries her hand in mentoring by organizing 'Baking Workshop' for interested candidates. Shilpa says that her teachers from college have had a great contribution in her success. Even before completing 2 years of Dessert Palette, Shilpa and her cakes are popular among a large group. Shilpa says that she dreams of a day when cakes become a regular part of human life than on special occasions.

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