"It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself. "
- Betty Friedan
The name ‘Caramella’ means ‘sweet’ in Italian. It is also one of the few words which skilled baker Ketki thinks best describes her business and the message she wants to convey. While Caramella is quite a unique name for a baking business, it’s owner, Ketki Barfiwala, is also someone with a distinct thought process and personality.
Talking about her entrepreneurial journey, Ketki says, “I’ve been running Caramella for five years now. I am a qualified chartered accountant by profession and had a corporate job. But I didn’t want to do a finance based job so that is where the journey of Caramella actually started. Besides, the only thing I knew best was baking.”
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Apart from making scrumptious cakes, Ketki makes other interesting desserts too. She also takes workshops, does food styling and photography commercially. But she believes that being a cake artist is just one aspect of her business because Caramella is more into taking bulk orders for weddings and other events.
Given all the variety of goodies on offer, her favourite thing to bake is the basic cake without any frosting and fondant. It is also one of her most sought-after cakes. She loves travel cakes the most and experiments with different flavour combinations for them, such as lemon and raspberry, chocolate and hazelnut and caramelized chocolate with praline.
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For Ketki, making such a big switch in her career was a well thought-out decision, with the support of her family. “I first started baking for my friends and family. Slowly I started baking commercially, while still working at my full-time corporate job. But it soon got too much to handle so I quit my job and started my home baking business. Then after a year, I started my first studio which I shut down soon because it wasn’t doing very well and I realized that there were a lot of things I didn’t know, in terms of running a business. So I went back to working from home, back to baking on a smaller scale. After that I attended the Academy of Pastry Arts in Malaysia, finished my intensive baking course and came back to resume baking”, she says.
Despite the initial hurdle in her business, she bounced right back, armed with the right skills and a positive attitude. And she has some important advice for all budding bakers and entrepreneurs.
“In my opinion, it is better to learn something professionally. Since I come from a corporate background, I know that irrespective of how much you do at home, you won’t be able to acquire certain skills on your own. You can get recipes and basic knowledge online, but not the finesse and commercial parts of the art. So take up short courses – it will make a world of a difference to your skill set. Secondly, people should realize that just having 50 correct recipes will not help you form a business, there are other aspects to learn like marketing, client communication, taxes, finances, etc. If it’s your business, you need to know everything about it. Lastly, practice and have patience.”
Caramella is just the beginning of a sweet journey ahead. In the next five years, Ketki plans to do more workshops, more food styling and photography as well as develop her YouTube channel further. More power to her!
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