Fathima Iqbal is a creative home baker based in Kochi. In June 2015, she started Cakestry to delight the cake lovers of her city with handcrafted customized theme cakes. Fathima is a highly ambitious person and want to develop Cakestry into an aggregator of like-minded home bakers from different cities of India.
Today, Fathima Iqbal, the founder of Cakestry, joins us in this interview session to share her story!
Hi Fathima, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. To start with the session, we would request you to say a few lines about yourself.
I am a Computer Science Engineer, Mother of Kinder Gardener Ehan Fahad and Toddler Eira Fahad, a homemaker with a passion for baking and lover of sweets and confectionary.
How did you learn baking?
In 2012 while we were in Saudi Arabia, we used to visit a store called Saadeddin where they tried new dishes on regular customers for feedback.
Further, I started preparing new dishes on my own trying them on my husband and his friends (Mr. Shehin, Mr. Faris, Mr. Fardheen and Shenza) which ended up in going for training under Incredible Art and Indulgence.
If given a choice to enroll for a baking course at a baking school, which baking school would you opt for?
It would depend on the course contents and my liking for contents, schedules and orders.
How was your first baking experience?
The first cake that I baked was for my son. It was a very simple chocolate cake which demanded most minimal ingredients!
And that is how I preferred it. Considering the fact that I was baking for the first time and before cooking, I made sure I have all the required ingredients and vessels by my side.
Please give us an overview of your baking venture Cakestry. What motivated you to pursue baking professionally?
My brothers started giving me orders through their friends. While I was doing this, my husband used to tell me to put my creations on Facebook. As I was shy to publicize my creations, he took the initiative to put the pictures on Facebook!
Later in April 2016, when he came back from Saudi Arabia, we decided to name the baing venture as Cakestry (Cakes + Pastry). Soon, I started getting repeated baking orders and since then it became a serious passion for me.
My Sister-in-Law extended her support in setting up cake mixers and equipment. We are thankful to our friend Mr. Aju who guided us in the branding.
How do you add your creativity in the cake baking recipes?
We at Cakestry provide fresh home baked handcrafted cakes on order. Our Cakes are non-alcoholic and free from any kind of preservatives, margarines and filler ingredients. We try to add natural flavouring agents in our cakes. For example, for orange flavour we use natural orange peel, for strawberry flavour we use strawberry fruit, etc. than going for essences and flavouring esters. Furthermore, when it comes to shape, we try many designs based on our customers’ proposed themes.
What are some of the signature products of Cakestry? Which one is your personal favourite?
Signature ButterScotch Cakes, Van Choc Blended Cakes and Red Velvet Cakes are our signature products.
Apart from that, my personal favourite is macarons. Nowadays I am preparing for brownies and meringue cookies.
As a professional baker cum entrepreneur, how is the journey so far for you Fathima?
I won’t consider myself a professional baker. I am a home baker whose family can’t eat all that I fancy to bake.
How tough and difficult is baking as a profession? How do you deal with the difficulties?
Accuracy is everything in baking. Proper timing, temperature, weighing of ingredients, etc. are the major things to look for in home baking.
From my experience, transporting a finished decorated cake is the difficult thing of a baking business. After spending so much time designing multitier cakes, a simple bump or jerk during transportation is sufficient for the entire effort to go for a toss. For this, some solution has to be worked out, as people dislike hard cakes which would have been strong enough to withstand bump or jerk during transportation!
For difficult situations, I divide the problems into smallest possible activities and arrive at the solution for each of the activity. While doing home baking, the toughest thing is handling my kids who come in between as testers. Support of my family is as important as above in my home baking journey.
If you are given a chance to fix a failure of yours, what would you do?
I accept failures. There is no plan B for fixing failures in baking as time is a key ingredient and moments can’t be recreated. Lost moments and events are lost, and customer satisfaction can’t be brought back by saying sorry. Hence, we consider customer satisfaction as an attitude and service as integral part of our job than a favour.
If you want someone to bake something special for you, who would it be and why?
My kids baking a simple cake for me. There would have been nothing special than that cake!
What are your future plans for Cakestry?
We want to develop Cakestry into an aggregator of like-minded home bakers from different cities. We want to develop an app similar to Uber/Olx/Dabbawala/BlueApron/MakeMyTrip where homemakers shall be located by app and orders could be placed. My husband is working on options since he is the co-founder.
Imparting training to the aspiring bakers is another expansion possibility and I am getting a lot of enquiries on it.
A supermarket based online trading of home baker specific tools, consumables and raw materials is another concept in mind.
How can a person get started with baking?
Initially work hard on your passion to learn than to earn, things will fall in line. From the internet, we can get a lot of ideas and tutorials on baking, flavours, combinations, etc. This is how I started.
Anything else you want to share…
We wish to be part of initiatives which celebrate important days at old age homes and orphanages on a monthly basis at subsidized pricing and be part of their happiness.
Similarly, I have read a WhatsApp message saying about a practice in Germany where people orders cup of coffee for themselves and one on the wall. The one on the wall shall go to a needy person. This kind of cultures shall develop in our country also.
And, one last question of this session Fathima, if you have had one wish…
I wish people love to live life than spending their time and life competing and comparing themselves with their surroundings.
I wish people spare quality time and interact with their loved ones – elderly and young, without hurry berry to succeed, make more money, prove in front of society, without being intolerant and regulating spending time glued to the virtual world. May God bless all!