Preethi Srinivasan, a home baker in Bangalore took her first strides towards entrepreneurship on July 12, 2016. The day is eventful as on this day she started her cake studio – CakeDiva. Earlier Preethi worked as a software engineer. Later, she did MBA to upgrade her professional skills. Her objective was to return back to the corporate world. However, after she got married, equations changed. During this time, Preethi discovered her love for baking. A few years after her marriage, she decided to become a professional baker.
Preethi Srinivasan, presently, is amongst the upcoming talented home bakers in Bangalore. She specializes in creating customized home baked beautiful cakes according to the likings of cake lovers.
Today, CakeDiva’s proud founder Preethi Srinivasan joins us in this interview session with conflatingVisions. The skilled cake artist from Bangalore shares her inspiring experience as a home baker with our readers.
Hi Preethi, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. Please tell us a few lines about yourself.
Hi, my name is Preethi Srinivasan – a Cake Artist and the Founder of CakeDiva. I started off my career as a software engineer and after a few years had to quit my job to relocate to the US. While in the US, I did my Masters in Business Administration with the intention of getting back to being a professional. But looks like destiny had a different plan for me!
I am also a Mom to 3 mischievous young kids who do a pretty good job at keeping me on my toes.
What inspired you to start baking? What were you doing before taking up baking as your profession?
As a child, I had always loved cakes and pastries. I used to look forward to birthday parties, so I could get to eat a piece of cake. But, I guess my baking journey started with my love for cake-decorating.
CakeDiva began about a year ago, before which I had been baking for family and friends on and off for 5 years. Though I was passionate about baking and cake-decorating, my plan was to settle in for a 9 to 5 job after having done my MBA. After my little ones were born, each day was entirely devoted to their care and the needs of my older son. With stress levels so high, the need to do a little something for myself every day and to create my own identity, skyrocketed. This is when I decided to start baking for people outside my family.
Preethi, did you attend any cake baking and decorating classes to learn baking?
I am a self-taught baker. My passion towards baking and cake decorating made me spend hours watching millions of baking tutorials on YouTube and read up tips and techniques, long before I even got an opportunity to work on them.
How was your first baking experience?
My first baking experience is not something that I am too fond of. I wish I could erase the picture of that cake from my head because it looked nothing like a cake. Anyway, my husband and in-laws were kind enough to appreciate the effort and seemed to relish every bite of the cake that did not rise at all and looked flat just like a plate! But I guess, there is always a first time for everything and I am glad my first cake did not bog me down.
Tell us about your baking venture CakeDiva.
CakeDiva offers cakes, cupcakes, brownies, cake pops, dessert jars and healthy bakes that are delivered across Bangalore. Each of our product is freshly baked with wholesome ingredients and handcrafted with creativity. My primary objective is to use quality ingredients and make my products with high standards of hygiene and without preservatives. This venture is one of the best things that has happened to me. What excites me the most is, when I meet people, my cakes are the among the first things they talk to me about. This has made me realize how much CakeDiva defines me now.
In what ways do you try to be creative?
I have always been passionate about anything that involves creativity. Sketching, painting and clay modelling have been my hobbies since childhood. Before baking cakes, I was in the handcrafted jewellery business, in a small way.
With every cake order I receive, I spend hours sketching the image of the cake, both in mind and on paper. I spend time talking to clients to know more about them and try to customize cakes according to their liking. Additionally, in each of my cakes, I try to add a personal touch, which I think goes a long way in making my clients feel important.
What are some of the signature products of CakeDiva? Which one is your personal favourite?
Some of our signature products are The Chocolate Turtle cake, Chocolate fudge walnut brownies and Whole-wheat Chocolate Cake.
My personal favorite (and others too) is the walnut brownie, which I can now bake even with my eyes closed!
Preethi, narrate some of your success stories that inspire you to bake better.
As CakeDiva is still in its infancy I don’t have many great stories to share but every time my client gets back with a great feedback or comes back for more, I count that as a success story. I have had instances where I have received a flurry of cake orders (5 or more in a month) from the same client and it makes me very happy. The thought that my cakes have made occasions memorable is very satisfying.
How tough and difficult is baking as a profession? How do you deal with the difficulties?
Every role you play, comes with its own set of challenges. The biggest challenge for me as a baker has been in managing the expectations of my new clients. Having had cakes mostly from commercial bakeries, some of my new clients are used to the taste and texture of the cakes they get outside, which is achieved by adding chemicals and preservatives. Generally speaking, home bakers like myself pick and choose ingredients from our pantry that are safe and that we would use to feed our family and kids. I do my part in educating the client on what they can expect from any homemade cake. Having said that, most new clients today, however, understand the value of home baked goods and my challenge only rests with those who are unaware.
Additionally, striking a balance between work and family has been challenging for me on a daily basis. That sweet spot is tough to find if all the baking happens inside of your home kitchen especially with little ones in the house. Being around my toddlers all the time, I have had to shuttle between playing and attending to them while also ensuring my cake orders are fulfilled. Thanks to my parents who help me take care of my little ones and also to my husband who values creativity more than anything, I have been managing this effectively until now. I also look forward to facing and overcoming my challenges.
If you are given a chance to fix a failure of yours, what would you do?
Fortunately, I haven’t had any major failures till date, knock on wood! I hope this good luck continues, but I will take any failure as a learning experience.
If you want someone to bake something special for you, who would it be and why?
Throughout this journey, my husband has been my biggest support as well as my greatest critique. He, not only lends a helping hand at times but is also a guinea pig for all my baking experiments! He has been watching me bake enough now, that I feel it would be nice for him to try baking something himself.
What are your future plans for your home baking venture CakeDiva?
Our next big step is to setup a shop online and build CakeDiva’s digital footprint. We are currently working out the kinks on this and will be operational online shortly!
Please share some baking tips.
I believe I have a lot more to learn and master when it comes to cake baking and cake decorating. But I can certainly share some experiences and tips with aspiring bakers.
Professional baking requires a lot of P&P – ‘Passion & Patience’. It may take just one disastrous baking experience to make you want to never bake again – It is important to not take it to heart and snap out of it quickly. Being open to suggestions from clients and always working on ways to continuously improve products is important. Trying to adapt quickly to the market trend and changing product demands is another skill that will help.
Rate yourself on a scale of 10 as a baker.
I had been baking for around 5 years before CakeDiva as well, but baking is a vast ocean and the learning is endless. Based on the variety of cakes I have done so far, I will rate myself an 8.
Rate yourself on a scale of 10 as an entrepreneur.
My focus so far has been on baking cakes that my customers want. I have not focused too much on the business part yet. I also feel entrepreneurship requires a specific set of skills and I am working towards improving those. Having said that, I would still rate myself a 7, because I am happy I have been able to establish a presence as a home baker in Bangalore.
And one last question of this session Preethi, if you have had one wish…
Home baking has taken off and more and more people are looking at ordering cakes from home bakers now. This has also inspired many creative bakers to take up home baking seriously which has resulted in a highly competitive playing field for bakers.
I wish one day I stand out among other talented bakers and be known as one of the finest home bakers in Bangalore.