Quarantine Home Bakers - 6

Jun 25 2020. view 140


The coronavirus and the two-month lockdown haven’t been great for a lot of business – especially restaurants and cafés relying on hungry customers and diners to make a profit. But turning adversity into opportunity is a special skill we Sri Lankans seemed to have mastered over the years and that is exactly what we’ve successfully done in times like these. In this series, we talk to people who turned their passion for food and baking into a business idea. Some have been in the market for years and others saw the new opportunity and took it! With dining out now a possibility, these businesses are changing the game and have overcome the odds of running a business during quarantine. Here’s how they did it.
 
DESSERT SEA 
Zaakiya Zaharan Ali initially got the inspiration for Dessert Sea over a Pinterest pin idea ‘Cake Sea’. “I loved the name immediately, it created such a great vibe and also put forward the idea that there are boundless choices offered just like the sea itself.”
 
 
Q WHAT DO YOU OFFER?
We offer a variety of desserts like cheesecake, eclairs, doughnuts, brownies, tiramisu among others. Our best seller is our eclair with the cream cheese, Biscoff, and vanilla pastry cream filling! Our customers just seem to love it. 
 
Q WHEN DID YOU START OPERATIONS?
I started Dessert Sea in June 2019 during my university semester break solely out of passion and it all started with our “cream cheese eclairs”. The love for our eclairs has been big from the very beginning and we believe it’s because we prepare batches only on a pre-order basis and also because of the high-quality ingredients we use, not compromising on the quality of our desserts.  During the curfew, due to lack of access to ingredients, our operations did stop production completely for a while but we continued serving from the last week of May, after around 2 and half months, and the reaction and love we have received have been absolutely great and overwhelming.
 
 
Q WHAT WAS IT LIKE RUNNING YOUR OPERATIONS DURING CURFEW?
It surely was challenging! Considering how ingredients were quick to run out of stock and the fact that it was difficult to carry out deliveries during the times made it tough. But throughout the curfew, the online community had come together, small local businesses were helping each other out by sharing contacts making it all easy for one another regardless of their own situation.
 
Q WAS IT DIFFICULT TO SOURCE YOUR INGREDIENTS?
Yes! Eventually, we did find a way to source our ingredients and over time most ingredients were available to be purchased online making it so much easier and faster.
 
 
Q HOW ARE YOU ENSURING THATS PROPER HYGIENE MEASURES ARE TAKEN IN PREPARATION AND DELIVERY?
Hygiene sure is an important aspect during operations during this time hence, we are being extra careful with our processes more than usual ensuring safety and hygiene in all forms from the beginning of sourcing ingredients to delivering the desserts to our customers in order to make sure everything is safe and clean for our customers who trust our process and choose to purchase our desserts!
 
Q WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART ABOUT OPERATING DURING CURFEW?
I wouldn’t say it was the most challenging part, but it sure was my biggest worry before I started taking orders during the curfew - wondering if customers are willing to purchase my desserts during a pandemic or if it really was the ‘right time’ to start?
 
Q HOW DO HOME BAKERS PLAN ON GOING FORWARD POST COVID?
COVID-19 has created some heaty competition in the online baking platform with many wonderful home bakers coming into the light. It will always continue to be a great space as long as we invest more on finding new ways to ‘WOW’ our customers.
 
CAKE-A-LICIOUS
Baker Pumudi Fernando has always been a huge fan of cakes so it’s only natural that she’s great at baking them! “Given the choice, even if there are a lot of things on offer - I will always choose cake over any other item!”.
 
 
Q WHAT DO YOU OFFER?
I do cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. My most popular item is our ‘Death by Chocolate’ cake which has been ordered over and over again and is in high demand. It’s a double chocolate cake that’s loaded with all types of chocolate. My 500g Mini Cakes are also pretty popular since they are perfect for small gatherings and are affordable. 
 
Q WHEN DID YOU START OPERATIONS?
This is a business that I started back in 2017. With curfew, I managed to come up with a special curfew menu since there were limited ingredients so I stuck to minimalistic cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.
 
 
Q WHAT WAS IT LIKE RUNNING YOUR OPERATIONS DURING CURFEW?
Running the business during curfew was challenging. Because it was really hard to get a curfew pass for my usual delivery person and to get supplies for the cakes, I didn’t accept any orders for the first month. But then I slowly started to accept orders and start delivering again.
 
Q WAS IT DIFFICULT TO SOURCE YOUR INGREDIENTS?
Surprisingly, no! I found it easier than before because by the time I started taking orders and delivering, I was able to get all the basic ingredients delivered to my doorstep without having to go out. 
 
 
Q HOW ARE YOU ENSURING THAT PROPER HYGIENE MEASURES ARE TAKEN IN PREPARATION AND DELIVERY?
During the preparation of the cakes, I always wear a mask and gloves and ensure all the tools I use are washed in boiling hot water before use. Even before the coronavirus, I was always concerned about hygiene because I am making something a person will eat so if it’s not up to standard it would not be good for the person or my brand.  During delivery, we always ensure that the vehicle is cleaned and the cake boxes are fully sealed. The driver always wears a mask and gloves and we opt not to accept cash on delivery due to hygienic issues.
 
Q WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART ABOUT OPERATING DURING CURFEW?
I’d say delivering the cakes. 
I say that because I only had very limited curfew passes so because the demand was high, there was an equally high number of delivery passes.
 
Q HOW DO HOME BAKERS PLAN ON GOING FORWARD POST COVID?
As I observed most of the bakers didn’t run their business during curfew and are now slowly getting back into work so I know bakers will have to work hard to get back into their work post-Covid.  We also now have a higher responsibility for ensuring the hygiene of the products.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

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


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