Anna Olson says,
“Baking may be regarded as a science, but it’s the chemistry between the ingredients and the cook that gives desserts life. Baking is done out of love, to share with family and friends, to see them smile.”
In our #FridayFeature focusing on the #WonderWomen segment, we present to you a baker, whose love for food and for cooking, pushed her to follow a passion along those lines. Meet, Ria Aswani, a home baker and the founder of Loco For Cocoa. How did she turn to baking and what made her start this enterprise? Let’s hear it in her own words.
“I have always been passionate about food and baking since a young age. I used to watch a lot of food shows on TV like Masterchef Australia, Fabulous Cakes and Cake Boss which inspired me to explore this profession. It started out as a hobby but during my second year of Bachelor of Management Studies (B.M.S) I decided I would like to pursue it as a profession after graduation. Like any other person just starting out into a new business, I’ve faced struggles too.
When I started the business in 2015, I had just completed my 1-year Bakery and Confectionery course from Sophia College, Mumbai and had completed my internship at Meluha The Fern in Powai, Mumbai. Initially it was difficult because people were hesitant about ordering from someone who did not have a proper shop and works from home. I had to resort to taking up a Digital Marketing job just so that I had something to do.
To be honest it’s not fun to sit at home doing nothing while yours peers are doing well at their respective jobs. However, things changed in 2017 and quite unexpectedly so. It came as a kind of turning point when I decided to sign up as a restaurant partner on Swiggy. They helped me reach out to new customers in my area.
Within a couple of months, we became popular on the delivery app and eventually our work increased. New people started contacting us to order our eggless customized cakes and various desserts. We started outwith 6 products on our menu on Swiggy and expanded up to 30 products. After a while we decided to partner up with Zomato, Food Panda and UberEats as well.
It’s challenging when clients ask you to create a unique design for a cake which you have never made before. But it makes us very happy when people trust us to make designs like a Ferrari cake or a Harry Potter themed cake or a 2-tier cake made with handmade fondant flowers or one which looks like a block of cheese. I draw motivation from fellow bakers and restaurateurs in the industry like Pooja Dhingra of Le15 Patisserie who is my role model along with Kainaz Messman of Theobroma. The kind of work they do is exceptional and innovative. I also get inspired by seeing the work of fellow home bakers, the small timers or the beginners, just like me.
My journey so far has been pretty great. From being an amateur who couldn’t decorate a cupcake properly to becoming someone who makes 4 kg cakes and 15 kgs of chocolate modaks during Ganesh Chaturthi, the personal and professional growth has been tremendous and something I take ample pride in. I am extremely grateful to my parents who have been so supportive about my career. They never forced me to go down the traditional path of going for a corporate 9 to 5 job.
My mother is actively involved with my business and helps me in production and procurement of ingredients. Without my mother it would be difficult to run my business successfully or smoothly. My future plan is to move out of my home kitchen and open a central kitchen for Loco for Cocoa. Through the odd jobs, and via my baking journey, I have learnt that no job is too small. Be it washing your utensils or executing a huge order, everything is important. I am incredibly lucky to have found my passion so early in life. They say, “do something you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, which is totally true for me. There are days when I wished I did not have to manage everything by myself then I realize this is way better than taking orders from someone else.
I can be my own boss and take a leave or vacation whenever I feel like, without waiting for an approval from my boss. As for the daily drive to go on, well, that comes from various unexpected as well as known people, who try out my bakes and drop in a review or just say it through their expressions that they have enjoyed my hours of labour and creative inputs!”
To follow Ria’s everyday baking journey, or to try out one of her delicious bakes, you can follow the links below:
Go satiate your sweet tooth!