For those of us not living with family, how many times in these past few months have you found yourself making a call to your mother asking for a family recipe or just seeking help with a particular dish? However, in this story, the roles are reversed.
Tanya Gupta (22) was working as a chef instructor with Truffle Nations in Delhi while her mother Seema Gupta (44), who is based in Jammu, would often call her daughter to get the recipe to bake cakes or cookies.
While she stuck to making things that were not very complicated, all her recipes were courtesy of Tanya.
On the cusp of the coronavirus pandemic, in January this year, Tanya decided to go back to Jammu. Having spent two years in Delhi, she began feeling homesick and thought that moving back home was perhaps a “very wise decision”. While the move offered her comfort, her passion for cooking kept prompting her to find ways to get back into the kitchen.
“I was never interested in academics but even though I did not know what I wanted to do, I was always clear on what I wanted to stay away from,” says Tanya, adding, “Managing to convert a passion into a career has been rather fulfilling.”
A lockdown opportunity
During the lockdown and the subsequent months that followed, when many businesses were shutting down and unemployment loomed large on the horizon, small scale, home food business ventures continued to do well. Tanya explains, “I saw potential in this business. People wanted good quality and hygienic food products and that is what I put my money on.”
She would often bake cakes for friends and family, and while there was an initial slump in demand, soon she got requests for larger orders, which became a starting point for Tanya and her mother’s business venture.
She now caters to almost six orders everyday and says that she has not had even a day off since January, 2020. Adding more products to the menu, Tanya says she now enjoys experimenting far more with her selection.
Currently in the midst of the festive season, she is now busier than ever. “With Diwali just about two weeks away, this is perhaps the busiest period for us,” she says. Cakes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, and various kinds of breads are her specialty. It was Tanya’s father, Rakesh Gupta, who helped her initially set up the business – ‘Baking World by Tanya’. “Now, I have become prudent and more conscious of how I reinvest money into the business,” she says.
One of the USP’s of Tanya’s business is the strict hygiene standards that she follows. “My mother is the most dedicated worker that I have seen,” says Tanya and adds, “I am able to do this only because it’s mom and me who run the show. We have not hired any help.” Speaking about the support that her mother extends, she says, “My mother is my biggest support and without her I would not be able to do even half the things I do now.”
Tanya lost her maternal grandfather recently and the responsibility of running his business also fell on Seema’s shoulders. “Despite all that she does, she also finds time to help me with my work. Her mornings are spent with me, and then she goes to my grandfather’s shop. In the evening when she returns she is back to helping me and only calls it a day when I wind up,” says Tanya.
Leveraging social media
Tanya confesses feeling worried about initially returning to Jammu. “Having lived in Delhi, I wasn’t sure I would get the same kind of business and response in Jammu and that troubled me,” she says. To market her business, Tanya used social media and a very strong word-of-mouth network, and did not invest in “any other kind of marketing”.
With an Instagram that has over 4,000 followers, Tanya started getting more traction on her page. She says, “There are times when people just message to tell me that the cake I have posted looks so pretty. They are not even residents of Jammu, and that makes me happy,” she says.
Talking about seed money
“Be ready to make an initial investment of at least Rs 50,000,” says Tanya about starting up a home cooking venture. She also reiterates that the best thing to do is use fresh produce, and not have any pre-mixes for the cake. She explains, “If you want to get good quality products then you must be willing to spend this amount.” Being in charge of grocery shopping for her business, Tanya tells me that her father is a bargain hunter.
“He ensures that he scouts for the best quality products while paying the least for it. This also helps my profit margins in a small way,” she explains. Tanya now works on about five to six orders every day, and on special occasions the order count even goes up to 20 per day.
While the chocolate cake that Tanya bakes is her bestseller, there are also macaroons, cookies, chocolates, pizza, puffs, and cakesicles on the menu. A regular one kilo chocolate cake, with frosting, will cost you Rs 1200 and the price varies depending on the intricate detail of the icing on the cake. When asked what her monthly income is, she says, “That varies from day-to-day. There is no fixed amount to it. However, I can safely say that on an average I make upwards of Rs 35,000 a month.”
The fondant and tier cakes are the most challenging to make, says Tanya. “In fondant cakes, its look is everything and if that is not right, no matter how awesome the cake tastes, it will fall flat. While stability is important in tier cakes, it requires precision and skill of another level,” she adds.
If you would like to reach out to Tanya and place an order, you can click here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)