SupportBiz presents an exclusive chat with Rumana Jaseel about IncrEDIBLE Art, entrepreneurship, home-based baking and more.
How long has IncrEDIBLE Art been in operation?
IncrEDIBLE Art has been in operation for about five years now. However, I used to sell largely to friends and family till the last one year. Business has picked up since then, after I set up a page for IncrEDIBLE Art on Facebook.
What were you doing prior to starting IncrEDIBLE Art?
I am a nutritionist by profession, and have been involved with hospitals in the preparation of nutrition programmes for patients. When I started Cake Bake, I was still working as a nutritionist, at the multi-speciality Silverline Hospital in Kochi. It was becoming an increasingly difficult task to cope up with my full-time job, orders for my cake business and taking care of home and my two kids. So, I quit my day job last year and turned to Cake Bake aka IncrEDIBLE Art full-time.
How did you come up with the idea of starting IncrEDIBLE Art?
Since I have been a nutritionist, I know how to make cakes and biscuits wholesome and more healthy, and I had always been passionate about baking. A lot of people told me that my cakes were quite professional, and that I should start selling them. That’s how the idea for the venture was born.
Starting a home-based baking business seemed like a natural choice for me, where I could combine my knowledge in nutrition with my passion for baking, and at the same time, take care of my household duties as well.
What are your signature products?
I mostly bake customized cakes for my clients, which I can say are my signature products. Apart from that, I make a few signature desserts like an earl grey mousse, which is served in a chocolate cup and saucer. I also make wedding cakes with natural-looking hand-crafted sugar flowers, chocolates, tarts and pies, as well as chocolate decorative items like 3D chocolate flowers. I also make modern European pastries.
What are your most popular products?
My customized cakes, fresh cream cakes, chocolate cakes with different concoctions, European desserts (called entremets), cupcakes, cakepops, chocolates made of real couverture chocolate with fillings and infusions, 3D champagne bottles, and a dessert called Choco SMS are my most popular products.
How big is your team, at the moment?
Presently, I am a one-man-army, handling the order-taking as well as the baking. I have a wonderful support system in the form of my husband, friends, father and brothers. One of my dearest friends, Mary George from Kochi, helped me with the brand building, name and logo designing for my business. Another dear friend, Ramya Nagaraj, who runs a freelance business in Bangalore, is helping me out with the graphic designing for my business website, which is under construction.
Do you have a retail outlet for your products?
No, at the moment, I do not have an exclusive retail outlet. I work from my home kitchen, and sell most of my products from my home. However, I do display a few of my selected products at Itty's Cafe, a casual dining place in Kochi off and on.
How do you get your clients? Do you advertise?
No, I do not indulge in any form of advertising other than Cake Bake’s Facebook page. Most of my customers come through word-of-mouth referrals.
Do you conduct baking workshops as well?
Yes, I do conduct baking workshops off and on; they are not a regular occurrence. I have conducted workshops in Bangalore as well as Kochi.
What are your expansion plans in the near future?
In the long run, I would like to start a culinary theatre, where chefs from across the globe and cook and present their dishes before a vast audience. However, there is a long way to go before that dream becomes a reality.
More immediately, I would like to build up a team who can help me out with the delivery of cakes.
I would also like to conduct online baking workshops, wherein I could teach baking to a person sitting anywhere in the world.
How do you cope with the competition from other bakers?
I make sure that my cakes are balanced from the nutrition aspect, and that the ingredients I use are of the best quality and fresh. I try to do my best with every order that I get, and be as creative as I can. I concentrate on building personal relationships with my clients as well.
What are the major challenges that you face?
As of now, my biggest challenges are the lack of a team and a retail outlet. This limits my possibilities to a large extent. I ensure that I am working only on one order at a time so that I am not too stretched. However, I am fine with this, as I am able to manage both my work and my home with the current level of business.
Apart from that, handling the demands of clients is a big challenge. Sometimes, clients come up with weird requests, and I have to look at the most reasonable way of indulging them.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Cake Bake has been featured in a number of magazines and newspaper articles, and the moment I see every such feature is a proud moment for me. It makes me feel proud of the long way I have come.
Also, whenever a client of mine is completely satisfied with my products and refers me to his/her near and dear ones, it is a moment of pride for me.
I once got the opportunity from a client of mine to make cupcakes for an old-age home, which were packed in containers that could be used by them on a daily basis. The blessings that I got from them really made me happy and proud that I brought smiles back on their faces.
Apart from this, the appreciation that I got after making a 32-bogie-train cake for Malayala Manorama, and the opportunity that I got to make a cake for a celebrity on the occasion of the 60th birtday of Sri Yesudas's wife are moments that will forever stay with me.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
I would like to tell an aspiring entrepreneur to follow his/her gut feeling and his/her dreams. If you think you have a natural talent for something, and you can work creatively with it, go for it!