Mrs Gitanjali Kaul, a baker who strives to create the most beautiful and delicious cakes baked with love. From baking themed cakes to delights such as brownies, cupcakes, cookies, desserts along with other services offered by ‘Good Goodies’ such as baking classes, baking corporate cakes, wedding cakes, etc.
Incubees: What is your inspiration behind baking?
Gitanjali Kaul: My Mother used to bake amazing things – sweet and savoury and I’ve picked up my love for baking from her. Since Dad was in the Army, we got to stay in quite a few one-horse towns where bakeries were a rarity. So, for all our birthdays, Mamma used to bake interesting, themed cakes and eateries. I remember one very special one where she had made a complete village on the table with cakes, sandwiches – the works!
Initially, when both my younger sister and I would bake along with Mamma and there were no electric hand beaters, we took turns in beating egg whites using a fork!
Once we had learnt how to bake on our own, we would look forward to baking cakes on rainy days. Many years later, when I quit my marketing job with a publishing house, I was looking out for some work that I could do from home. My sister suggested this as a vocation and I followed her instinct.
Now, each morning when I look forward to creating something new or simply posting photos and videos on my social media channels or even mentoring new bakers, I feel invigorated and rearing to go – it’s the perfect combination.
Incubees: Did you undergo professional training or have you always had a skilled hand for baking?
Gitanjali Kaul: When I started off as a home baker, I had a few tried and tested recipes with a lot of enthusiasm. I did not have any formal training initially I merely followed my taste buds. I was lucky to find a huge group of bakers who mentored me and answered even the silliest of my questions and now I try and give back to this pool.
Subsequently, I have attended some specific training sessions and relevant demonstrations at various opportunities. I’m a visual learner. If I see something I like, I will go all out, to learn it.
Incubees: Tell us about your journey and how does it feel to own a bakery?
Gitanjali Kaul: I quit my job in March 2013. For a few months, I enjoyed the break from the 9-5 life. Then, following my sister’s suggestion, I began practicing some of my mother’s recipes. Then, I baked a cake for my niece’s 10th birthday in April 2014. This cake was seen and liked by a very dear friend’s daughter. Apparently, she wanted the same cake for her birthday which was a week away. My friend had been after me to take up baking as a profession and I would keep ignoring his suggestions citing that I needed to be sure of my work first. At his daughter’s insistence, he firmly told me he wouldn’t accept the cake if I didn’t accept payment for it. And that is how I began my baking venture on 23rd April 2014. Subsequently, through word of mouth and the trust of close friends, I began baking more frequently. I used to decorate cakes late at night once dinner was done and I could use the entire dining table. In December 2016, my husband set up a separate working kitchen for me in the house’s annex where I work now. That gave me a lot of independence. My classes used to be conducted there too before the pandemic happened.
Incubees: Considering the competition nowadays, how does your bakery stand out from others and how do you go about your marketing strategy?
Gitanjali Kaul: I have a very strict rule that was a result of my experience as a manager in sales in a private Insurance Company – No Targets! That helps in being creative. I have never been good with deadlines – I like to take things at my pace to ensure I give it my best and that, I feel, sets me apart from others.
The competition will always be there – Post-Covid and the Lockdown, there has been a spurt in the number of Home Bakers. It’s a lucrative industry and has immense scope.
Some time back I was helping a classmate’s wife set up her home bakery in Noida and he couldn’t help asking if I felt a sense of competition from her considering we had common friends. My response was that despite this common circle, the sense of competition wasn’t there for the simple reason that we had our own fields within the larger scope of baking that we wanted to focus on – cakes (dry or decorated)/bread/savories/confectionery, etc. Moreover, there was a wide world (of potential customers) out there that I was sure wouldn’t overlap – and I was right.
As far as standing out is concerned, you have to decide where you want to position yourself vis-a-vis other bakers and established bakeries.
At The Good Goodies, I believe in creating a niche and keeping it as the core focus. That is what sets us apart in a crowd. I try to offer some relatively unusual, specialized flavor combinations one wouldn’t find easily around. Besides this, my USP is floral design cakes. While I make a whole variety of designs using varied media, my core competence remains florals – particularly using whipped cream.
Word of Mouth recommendations still remains the mainstay of my ‘Marketing Strategy’. As they say – the proof of the pudding is in eating it! I have actually had a person call me and say that they had tasted a cake I made over two years ago and they want to order the same one!
Incubees: Tell us about your team and what keeps them going?
Gitanjali Kaul: I picked up this line from my MBA college senior who, coincidentally, is also a Home Baker – ‘I am the baker, cleaner, delivery boy!’
I don’t have a team – so from procuring ingredients to baking, to washing up afterward, I do it all single-handedly! The support system that I fall back on during busy festival days is my family. My mother-in-law helps me with the packing of the goodies, my nephew, niece, and son (in that order!) help with errands and my sister-in-law manages all of my brandings through her company!
Incubees: How do you manage when there is a customer detractor? What is the toughest part of being an entrepreneur?
Gitanjali Kaul: Now this is an interesting question – something that we bakers face many a time. Though it seems all pink and rosy, there are instances where trouble crops up. It could be because of a mismatch of tastes and expectations or miscommunication or something as innocent as handling the cake box incorrectly. It is almost natural to look for someone/ something to blame or to clear one’s position instantly but that is no resolution and leads to further complicating the situation. It’s all about tactful handling of the situation. Resourceful resolution should be the aim at such a time. Never ever lose your cool – remain calm and composed. I try and follow this as best as I can.
As an entrepreneur, the toughest part is being on your own. Whether it is in terms of guidance, financial support, or even, in my case, sharing the workload. Everything requires planning, allocating resources, and at the end of it all, facing the consequences, whatever they may be. However, having said that, that’s where the thrill lies too.
Incubees: What would you say to the budding bakers/entrepreneurs, share with them the best part of being a baker?
Gitanjali Kaul: I take classes for budding bakers – those with the zest to learn even if they haven’t baked ever. My advice to them is that it’s a wonderful passion to pursue if you are enthusiastic about it. However, before you start taking orders, be very confident and consistent with your recipes and techniques. It takes time to establish a name but it can be lost with a single order that doesn’t go well. So, practice, practice, practice and keep the curiosity alive.
I believe that there’s no end to learning. I have a list of recipes and designs that I want to try that is probably, a mile long. The funniest part is that the moment I cross off one item from the list, at least 47 more are added to it – so, like I mentioned, there is no end to learning!
The best part about being a baker:
1. Doing something that you are passionate about.
2. Making folks happy – being a little part of their big celebration.
3. Getting to unleash your creativity.
4. Being your own boss.
5. Getting to meet new people – bakers and clients.
6. Sharing ideas and learning new things.
7. Oh! And you get to earn too!!
To know more, visit: https://www.goodgoodies.in/