Baking sweet success

Mehtaab, a resident of Hawal in Srinagar says that her passion to spread happiness via food and her love for baking have been in her since her childhood days.
Baking sweet success
Kashmir has lately seen a rise in young female entrepreneurs who are trying their luck in the food sector and many of them are making it big.GK Photo

Though female folk is traditionally well known for their culinary skills. Many young women are taking these well-learned skills and making them into an entrepreneurial venture.

Kashmir has lately seen a rise in young female entrepreneurs who are trying their luck in the food sector and many of them are making it big.

Syed Mehtaab Muneer, a young engineering pass out is one such entrepreneur who overcame all odds to make her baking passion into a business venture of home baking.

Mehtaab, a resident of Hawal in Srinagar says that her passion to spread happiness via food and her love for baking have been in her since her childhood days.

She said until the past few years she never thought of making it a business given the busy schedule of her studies.

She said until the past few years she never thought of making it a business given the busy schedule of her studies.
She said until the past few years she never thought of making it a business given the busy schedule of her studies.GK Photo

“After passing out B-tech I was not that much inclined to continue with competitive exams. It was mostly because my heart was calling me to do something else and my passion for art and baking helped me to figure out what to do. Since my childhood, I was good at baking and art. I would bake cakes for family and friends. I thought why not turn this thing into a business given the good market of the same in Kashmir,” Mehtaab said.

"I didn’t want to start just based on a handful of skills and wanted to do it professionally so that when I enter the business, I could provide the best product to the customers."

“In 2019, I went to Delhi to pursue a full-fledged course in baking. Although I knew the art of baking and have been doing it regularly I wanted to know more about it in the context of making it a profession. The training helped me to chisel my baking skills and taught me the business aspect of baking,” Mehtaab said.

Mehtaab says that her passion and will to do something kept her going in the harshest of COVID phases.
Mehtaab says that her passion and will to do something kept her going in the harshest of COVID phases.GK Photo

She said that as she arrived back in Kashmir when COVID had started and everyone was in panic mode. She said it was a huge challenge to start a business venture at a time when businesses were shutting down.

Mehtaab says that her passion and will to do something kept her going in the harshest of COVID phases.

“I could barely make it back as travel was banned and while I landed in Kashmir, people were unable to move out, let alone start a business. Everything was thought from getting raw materials, to equipment and setting up the business. It was hard to find customers amid the covid restrictions but I somehow kept going."

Mehtaab said that she trusted her skills and knew if she could give the best quality product, people will come to buy from her. She said one thing that worked to her advantage was that people were preferring home deliveries and ordering from home bakers instead of going to shops amid COVID.

“Another thing was that my close friends and family knew about my skills as they had tasted my bakery products. My initial customers were my relatives and friends and then through word of mouth and social media more and more people ordered and soon everything was going smoothly,” she added.

Mehtaab said that some people focus more on the designs and presentation of the bakery than the quality and taste. She said that she went the extra mile to make sure the taste is not compromised and the presentation is kept best.

“During the initial COVID days, I would go to multiple dealers and couldn’t get the raw material. It was a time when I was learning about these things. I would go to multiple dealers to find the perfect product but never compromise on the quality. That is how I created a customer base. I have customers who place orders every month and are regular buyers of my products. The reason for this is that I try everything to keep my quality intact,” she said.

Mehtaab after a brief journey is known for her customized cakes which people buy for adversaries, weddings, birthdays, and other occasions. Her quality cookies, fudges, cupcakes, brownies, and fruit cakes have got an overwhelming response.

“I am trying to innovate and move beyond traditional baking. I want to keep it natural and always give products to customers as per their choice. In any business customer satisfaction is important. One has to listen and do what makes the customers happy because it is they who are paying and helping us do our business,”

Mehtaab said that such ventures not only spread happiness but also make young entrepreneurs financially independent. Her baking venture ‘Sunny Smile Bakes’ is a well-known name in the area with a good customer base.

She said that she did not know much about the business and how to spread it but social media helped her in a good way.

“I didn’t go for fancy advertising. I started by posting about my business on an all-women Facebook group. Then I opened my Facebook and Instagram account as ‘Sunny Smile Bakes’. My Instagram page has over eight thousand followers. Social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp helped me to reach out to my customers with a single click,”

Mehtaab says that despite getting discouraged by some people about her choice to be a home baker, her family and friends were always there for her.

“It took my parents a while to understand my choice of doing Baking business after passing out as an engineer but they have been always there for me. I could have never done this without my husband Saqib Banday and my in-laws. These are the people who helped me in every way and encouraged me,” Mehtaab said.

Mehtaab said that as a child she started with a cookbook at home and now she not only got employment in what she loves but is also providing employment to others. To provide the best service she has kept the option of online delivery and pick up available with online payment mode.

Mehtaab says that she started alone and now has 4 employees with her. She has also tied up with two delivery teams. Mehtaab says that if you love doing something and turn that into business, it will bring happiness to your life and also make you finically stable.

With her business expanding, Mehtaab recently rented a place at Hawal to set up her manufacturing unit. She says that she is planning to open a physical outlet soon to sell her products too.

Mehtaab believes that more and more female should find their passion and turn it into a business opportunity.

She says that there are lots of business ideas where girls can be their own boss and be at home, take care of their family, and also earn.

She said the young girls should move beyond a few professions and explore the vast field of entrepreneurship in Kashmir.

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