Feb 03 2022. views 203
Inspired by her lack of a sweet tooth for desserts, Dasini Nimalsiri founded ‘Podibakes’, where baked goods are offered in bite-sized versions. Born during the beginning of the pandemic, Podibakes has grown to become a well-loved dessert stop by its customers!
1. What kind of baked goods do you offer?
Anything and everything sweet; from cakes, various types of cookies to brownies, blondies….you name it.
2. What inspired you to start this business?
(Ironically) I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, so for me, anything sweet was always preferred in small sizes. This was one main reason for me to start Podibakes (namesake), to create bite-sized versions of treats I love to eat.
3. What kind of an impact has Covid-19 made on your business?
Podibakes was created after the first lockdown, where I baked out of boredom. Of course, when the second, third and fourth wave followed, it underwent pauses then and there, purely due to logistic reasons; not being able to manage deliveries, as well as difficulty in sourcing butter, eggs, etc. At the same time, our customer base also grew with the pandemic - during lockdown periods we got orders from people who simply wanted something home-baked. So really, Covid -19 has been more of a gift and less of a curse!
4. How has the response been so far?
Great! Our customers are mostly friends, colleagues, and friends of friends, so the response has never been “sugar-coated”. Constructive criticism is always welcome at Podibakes, as I still consider myself an amateur baker. But overall feedback so far is positive.
Interestingly enough, we have received positive feedback for our baked goodies as well as our content and graphics, which is quite satisfying.
5. What would you say makes you different from other dessert places?
At Podibakes, we try to offer treats and desserts that are out of the ordinary, yet simple and “bite-sized”
(or rather podi). Podibakes started closer to Christmas so our first ever menu was predominantly goodie boxes.
This helped in keeping with the bite-sized theme. Over time we expanded to individual items like cakes, due to the high demand but we still enjoy creating seasonal goodie boxes.
6. How have you utilised social media to get your business known among its customer base and the public?
Podibakes was originally only on Instagram - this was mostly because other media weren’t as user-friendly. I’m an Architect by profession so the presentation has always been important for me - we’ve tried to maintain a minimalist yet catchy and quirky theme with our graphics and content and social media just helped in creating that image and overall theme which made it easy to reach a larger customer base.
Then there are other benefits of ads that helped Podibakes reach the public. Social media is also a great tool for networking. While we are not always as active as most of the other dessert places on Instagram, over time we have connected with a few home bakers and this has really helped Podibakes feel at home. Community over competition has proven to be true! And it’s a great place for inspiration as well.
7. What is the most fulfilling thing you have felt during the operations of your business?
We have been in operation for a little over a year, and the most satisfying part was when we got feedback from our customers - be it positive or constructive. Once one of our customers said our cakes taste like home, which was quite humbling for us.
8. What is the product you are most proud of?
There are a few. We have a popular type of cake that has been in demand throughout - the podi cake. It’s inspired by bento cakes; more like the Lankan version of it and if I’m not mistaken, when we introduced the podi cake, the bento cake trend had only just begun over here. We even do a very podi cake which is quite tiny and cute and we are always quite excited to make them.
The other favourite is the Ginger cake- which was created out of a baking flaw but we decided to go with it as it tasted better with the mistakes than the original recipe. It makes a great gift and a tea-time snack too!
9. What kind of orders do you take? Are they often customised or do you have a standard menu?
We have a standard menu for cakes and other baked goodies. But we also have a terrible habit of not being able to say no whenever a customer requests something customised or one-off. This really adds to the challenge.
10. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a home-baker?
I think I speak on behalf of all home bakers when I say that the immediate challenges like the sudden shortage of ingredients, price hikes, shortage of gas, and power cuts (!) make it difficult for small home-based businesses to sustain and offer products to customers at a reasonable price.
Also, having to run a one-woman show! I am my own baker, graphic designer, photographer, and social media manager behind Podibakes. In addition, this is also mostly a hobby and my profession takes most of my time, so balancing both has been the biggest challenge so far.
text Tiranya Ranasinghe