Shalu Nijhawan’s entrepreneurial journey started exactly a year back in April 2015 when she founded her dream venture Cake Cafe. Earlier, she worked as a banker in State Bank of India, country’s leading PSU bank. However, she was not happy working there. To add wings to her entrepreneurial dreams, she quit her banking job to pursue a career in baking, an activity which makes her happy. Her venture Cake Cafe is based out of Bangalore. It specializes in customized cakes for almost any occasions. Shalu’s story is motivating, and we hope this interview session with the incredibly talented baker will ignite the hidden desires to follow your passion amongst many of you.
Hi Shalu, nice to have you with us in this session of conflatingVisions. Please tell us a few lines about you.
I did my MBA, worked with State Bank of India for four years, learnt Spanish & Flamenco (Dance form) before realising that only baking could make me happy. So, here I am.. A Baker.. A Cake Decorator.. but what defines me best is that I am an animal lover and the mother of a one year old (very naughty) boy.
What inspired you to start baking?
From Banking to Baking was a tough journey. All the people around me tried to stop/convince me not to leave my government job. But somehow I was not happy there. I wanted to do something that made me happy and gave me an opportunity to make others happy with my creativity. So, I did a couple of Baking courses at Nita Mehta’s (Delhi) before going to Le Cordon Bleu (London) and PME (Hertfordshire) to learn from world’s best professionals. It gave me a lot of confidence and skills (of course) to start my venture Cake Cafe.
Tell us about Cake Cafe.
Cake Cafe is my dream project. It’s a place where you walk in with some ideas. We process them with our high-quality ingredients, turn them into cake shaped happiness and you walk out with a box and a smile on your face.
We are basically into customised cakes. We do all genres (Wedding/Bachelors’ Party/Engagement/Themed Birthday Parties/Customised desserts, etc.)
What are your signature items?
Cake Pops, Apple Cobbler, Mango Cake, Pineapple Cake, Red Velvet Cake and our Designer Cakes are really popular.
How do you integrate creativity in baking?
Understanding what the client wants and transforming it into something that looks good and tastes good too needs a lot of creativity. Baking is a field where you can use all the creativity in the world and it will still not be enough. That is what is most exciting about this field. You need to keep learning the latest techniques, have all the new tools in market handy and be ready to experiment. Your creativity reflects in your products.
How big is your customer base?
We are tucked deep inside a small lane in HSR but we get customers coming in from all over Bangalore. That’s how word of mouth works. We deliver cakes all over Bangalore. We take orders from Foodpanda, Zomato and Big Basket.
What are your plans for growth?
We are already providing services all over Bangalore. We wish to open another outlet soon and expect the same overwhelming response like we have received in HSR.
What advice would you like to give to those who want to take up baking as a profession?
Enter the profession only if you possess loads and loads of patience, good people skills and a strong heart to accept a million failures before you finally succeed. Baking is tough, both physically and emotionally. But if you are really passionate about it, it has immense opportunity and nothing can stop you.
If not baking, what do you think you would be doing?
I would be working as a Senior Bank Official if I hadn’t followed my heart back then.
And, one last question of this session, if you have had one wish…
I wish I reach a position in life where I can bring some change in two fields. Firstly, changing the chauvinist mindset in our society which restrains women from taking risks in the life and forces them to choose between professional and personal life. Secondly, stopping animal cruelty. Animal abuse is everywhere around us but we are so used to it that we hardly do anything about it. Animals feel pain too. I feel strongly about it and I would like to work for it in any which way.