Shaira Mehdi is a creative cake artist and a home baker from the beautiful city of Nagpur, India. Shaira’s Mother who is also a baker herself introduced her to the beautiful world of baking cakes. As a child, she saw her Mother bake cakes on the birthday occasions. The process of baking and the cake decoration part was something which used to fascinate her. Shaira Mehdi is a trained Fashion Designer. However, her career in this field didn’t take off the way she wished. There is a famous quote – “Everything happens for a reason” and this quote turned out to be a perfect example for Shaira’s life. An unsuccessful attempt in fashion designing prompted her to explore other fields. It was during that time, she discovered the passionate baker in her. Soon, she started her own home baking venture, The Gift Story by Shaira Mehdi. It was February 2014. And, since then she has been climbing up the ladder of success.
Shaira Mehdi runs her home baking venture single-handedly. The Gift Story specialises in customised theme based cakes, cupcakes and desserts. We would know more about her entrepreneurial journey as Shaira joins us in this session to share her inspiring story with our readers!
Hi Shaira, welcome to our platform conflatingVisions. To begin with, we would like you to say a few lines about yourself.
I am a trained Fashion Designer and was really passionate about pursuing a career as a designer, but somehow things just didn’t work out. I belong to a business family and doing a job was never an option. Since childhood, I always was inclined towards arts may be it had to do something with my upbringing, as the community I belong to we are encouraged to pursue and appreciate arts of all forms and as a cake decorator this really helps. Colours fascinate me, forms fascinate me and so does food. So I think it’s a good combination for a cake decorator as the taste and the look of a cake are equally important.
Shaira, when did you first baked something? How was the outcome?
My Mom is a baker par excellence and I had always seen her bake and make cakes for our birthdays. I really enjoyed the process of baking and cake decoration even as a child. I would always be by her side waiting to lick on that leftover frosting and buttercream; and in the process, observing the technique. I remember my 1st bake was when I was 12 or 13 years old and had baked a cake for the school lucky draw. I had baked and shaped a teddy bear face, and all my teachers praised me for it. That was my 1st high as a baker.
What inspired you to start baking?
As I said, I always enjoyed baking but had never thought I would take it up as a profession. For me baking was more therapeutic and a passion. I just enjoy the whole process of it. Anyways, after career hopping as a fashion designer to a gift designer (hence the name The Gift Story) to a party planner here I am a happy cake decorator. I was baking cakes for my kids, friends and family birthdays. But after I had my new born, I had to quit working long hours outside home and then one day my SIL told me to make my nephew’s 1st birthday cake, and I put up the pictures on Facebook and my phone number and I started getting calls n that is how it all started.
Tell us about your baking venture The Gift Story by Shaira Mehdi.
The Gift Story by Shaira Mehdi is a home based bake house which I run single-handedly. I specialise in customised theme based cakes, cupcakes and desserts. I use the best quality and fresh ingredients available.
What are your signature items?
Cakes with fresh fruit compote fillings like strawberry, blueberry, orange to name a few.
My chocolate excess, chocolate cake with strawberry cream filling, chocolate cake with orange mousse frosting, vanilla cake with dulce de leche cream (milk caramel) are really liked by people.
We know creativity in every profession is important. How do you try to be creative in terms of baking?
Cakes these days are not just about good taste, they have to be good looking as well. In fact, theme cakes have become a rage these days. The centrepiece of any theme party is a well-decorated theme cake. So it’s all about creativity on the outside as well as the inside; for eg., you have to be creative about how to alter recipes to give something new each time in terms of taste and on the outside you need to be artistic enough to give it an interesting look. It’s like once the cake is filled, frosted and covered in fondant, a cake decorator’s canvas is ready to be decorated. So basically you got to be a baker and an artist at the same time.
Shaira, how is the journey as a home baker so far for you?
The journey so far has been really wonderful. I am a self-taught home baker with no professional training in cake decoration. My learning has mostly been through observation, experience and off course I keenly follow the works of some of the best bakers in the industry.
How has baking impacted your life?
As I earlier mentioned it’s therapeutic for me. I get that creative satisfaction and I must say it gives good money as well.
What keeps you motivated?
My family and the appreciation that I get from my clients keeps me motivated.
Tell us about your future plans for The Gift Story by Shaira Mehdi.
I believe in taking things one at a time. For me, it’s more important to enjoy what I do, and right now I am in a good space. I wish to expand my work area in future.
Anything else you want to share…
One thing I have learnt in my journey so far is that it’s more important to have the will to do things than the skill…
And why I say this is because being in a place like Nagpur where you do not have any means to get professional training in cake decoration, I was still determined to make cakes on the lines of what I saw on TLC and cake boss. I know I still have a long way to go, but I have started my journey and Inshallah, some day I’ll do really good for myself.
And, one last question of this session, if you have had one wish…
If I had one wish, I would bake the world a better place…….