Quarantine Home Bakers

Aug 22 2020. view 260

In this series, we talk to people who turned their passion for food and baking into a business idea amidst lockdown and COVID-19 fears. Some have been in the market for years and others saw the new opportunity and took it! These home businesses are changing the game and have overcome the odds of running a business during the quarantine. Here’s how they did it.

Graze By Sith Ranawaka

Sith Ranawaka’s brand Graze is named after the concept of ‘Grazing Tables’ which are beautifully arranged self-service tables that consist of charcuterie, cheese, fruits, crudités, canapés, flowers and other decorations. “I love doing grazing tables for family and friends hence ‘Grazing’ was my passion. I love simplicity, so with the brand name I wanted something that was simple yet catchy, and that’s how Graze came around.”

What do you offer?
Although we specialise in doing grazing tables and boxes, we do a little bit of desserts and savoury items too. During Quarantine we started doing lunch, an authentic version of a Sri Lankan yellow rice and there was such a positive response. I loved cooking lunch for my clients. However, we stopped it after the curfew was lifted. So, I think now, my signature dish would be my newly introduced Dips, the Chocolate Biscuit Pudding and Chocolate Banoffee.

When did you start operations?
I came down from the UK in February this year, and I always knew I wanted to do something of my own. However, strangely the curfew was my lucky star and that’s when Graze started. This period was when I had all the time for myself, to brainstorm, to create an opportunity in the market for myself and list out all the mechanisms needed to get there, this time really was valuable and prompted me to start Graze. So, it was definitely an idea that was formulated during the lockdown and it worked so well for me. 

What was it like running your operations post curfew? 
I think I was very lucky in terms of running operations during curfew, I am generally someone that is very determined and resilient when it comes to handling business, so for me from supplier sourcing, material sourcing, branding and the final packaging was not a stressful situation. I found most of my suppliers online and I was able to create strong relationships with them so my operations went out very smoothly. During the curfew, I had a close friend of mine that started doing my deliveries to customers with the help of a pass, and today he has started a delivery company called ASAP Deliveries and we have partnered up with them for our deliveries post curfew too. So it all worked brilliantly for me during and after the curfew.

How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
I take hygiene very seriously since I make all my products myself, I am able to manage cleanliness with utmost priority. With regard to delivery, since I have partnered with ASAP Deliveries, they ensure all the drivers take the rightful measures when handling our products and handing it over to the clients.

What do you enjoy about baking and operating from your own home baking business?
I think having a business that you can manage from home, brings some sort of comfort and peace. It is my safe zone, I think better, I am able to innovate and problem-solve in my safe zone and it is such a fun experience altogether. 

How has COVID-19 and the current state of the world changed your business and your baking?
COVID-19 affected numerous large scale and small businesses, for Graze it was a blessing to be able to run operations successfully during this difficult period. However, people’s spending power has reduced drastically but as small businesses, you have to keep trying to circulate income within the economy.

How do you Home Bakers plan on going forward post-COVID?
I think home-based businesses are growing post-Covid. Customers in the market have started to appreciate local talents more than ever due to import restrictions so people are starting to support small businesses operating from home and I think if we continue to innovate and bring out high-quality products, clients will be naturally attracted even if it’s a difficult time for the world.

Any advice to anyone who wants to start their own business? 
The only advice I can give to anyone that wants to start a business is you need to be able to create an opportunity for yourself. For me, it was creating an opportunity for grazing tables in the luxury segment and being confident about it. Gone are the days when entrepreneurs had to spot an opportunity in the market and seize it. If you have something you are truly passionate about, then create the opportunity for yourself, be resilient and enter the market. You will survive.

Graze by Sith Ranawaka takes orders through their social media pages (@GrazebySithRanawaka) on Instagram or Facebook. They accept Cash on Delivery and Bank Transfers.



Winmydil by Dilruwa Rajapakse is a home business that bloomed post lockdown.  “Win my heart is the meaning of the brand name since ‘Dil’ means heart in Hindi and in this scenario it's “win my heart via good food!”.

What do you offer?
Winmydil started off with a Signature Savoury Platter which is our main product. It comes in small, medium and large sizes to match your group size. These platters are ideal for parties, family get-togethers, corporate events, meetings or to munch on the way on your road trip. We also offer sweets platters, customised cakes and desserts. As a small home-based business, we are flexible enough to match customer requirements, which means apart from our standard products, we are happy to take customised orders. Since the start, we have catered to a number of large events upon request. The Paneer Burger in our savoury platter has been an absolute hit among everyone. I am glad that I could make non-veg eaters try this burger via the savoury platter and make them fall in love with it. Personally, it is the best achievement so far. We have been getting plenty of orders just for this burger after people tried it.

When did you start operations?
I came up with the idea of starting Winmydil during the lockdown. I had just resigned from my corporate job which gave me ample time to be creative and work on my passion which was only a hobby until then. The idea of Winmydil made me very productive during the lockdown. In general, it was a fruitful period for those who wanted to make use of their creative skills. Winmydil operations started right after the lockdown ended and since then it has kept me busy.

What was it like running your operations post curfew? 
We started operations right after curfew. Incorporating strict hygiene measures was something new and essential. It was a different experience for any business and having to put extra effort into sourcing right supplies was quite challenging. However, when we launched through Instagram, the enthusiasm shown towards our products kept us going. 

How are you ensuring that proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
I have previously worked in food services and have been trained in food safety. Also, Winmydil follows hygiene guidelines issued by the Health Ministry of Sri Lanka and we are very careful about post-Covid hygiene. Our small team consists of my family members, our kitchen is home-based, the food we prepare is closely monitored and always made out of handpicked finest ingredients and carefully sourced supplies.

What do you enjoy about baking and operating your own home baking business?
I was a hobby baker for more than ten years and I love creating food and feeding people. Food is a form of art to me; it is a way you can express yourself and it is very therapeutic at the same time. My friends and family who have tried my cooking and baking have always suggested that I should do it commercially, even on a small scale. After all these years I am happy through Winmydil my creations are now available for others as well. Apart from the food creation and preparation aspects, I thoroughly enjoy operating my own business. Despite the small size, it has provided me with entrepreneurial opportunity.

How has COVID-19 and the current state of the world changed your business and your baking?
While the traditional restaurant industry is severely affected by impacts of Covid-19, new business models emerged in the concept of Cloud Kitchens. Due to dine-in facilities being discouraged, online-based food delivery services are becoming the most preferred option. This is actually an opportunity for home bakers to shine. Just over two months since the start, we at Winmydil are going with the flow, learning the dynamics of the market and serving our customers with great care and full of passion. 

How do you see Home Bakers going forward post-COVID?
During the current economic crisis resulted by Covid-19, when each and every business is struggling, survival is far more important than competition. Our responsibility towards the community and country is crucial during such difficult times. Instead of complaining, we must adjust ourselves, help each other survive and grow. Encouraging local suppliers and promoting local products are a few ways of being a responsible business over waiting for supplies from overseas. Little gestures such as providing a recommendation, sharing a post on social media, reviewing a product goes a long way. With the increased demand for online-based food services, home bakers have the market opportunity to take their creations to the public more than ever before.

Any advice to anyone who wants to start their own business? 
Be confident in your passion and know your purpose. Take that risk. Start it! You will never learn without failure. Take each step forward by reflecting and learning from your mistakes and always be innovative and creative.

Winmydil takes orders via Instagram (@winmydil) and online orders via shoppies.lk . They accept cash on delivery and card payments are available at shoppies.lk . 



Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..


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