Twenty-six-year-old Saniya Lone had many easier career options. But she rather made a more difficult choice and the tryst with entrepreneurial success for the hijab-clad management graduate turned out to be a cake walk, literally.
Lone, who graduated from the Business School in Kashmir University in 2014, was always fond of baking designer cakes and when she thought of turning her passion into a profession, her family was apprehensive.
Apprehensive because entrepreneurship continues to be an exclusive boys’ club in the troubled valley of Kashmir where life is hard and women running their own businesses is still not an accepted norm.
But a determined Lone ignored all the warnings from her detractors, including her close relatives.
“Many of my family members even taunted me over my business idea of baking and selling cakes,” says Lone.
“I was also not too sure of my success. But I got confident only when my friends would pay me for baking their cakes.”
Lone, who operates from her factory set up at her home in upscale Peerbagh neighbourhood of Srinagar, didn’t want to turn it into a “run-of-the-mill” bakery venture. She mastered the art of making theme-based premium fondant cakes that she sells at Rs 1,500 a kg. He mother works with her.
She gets online orders from her clients and usually uses social media to interact directly with her buyers.
With at least five to six cakes selling a day, her two-woman enterprise, “Some Like It Sweet”, easily makes around Rs 8,000 to 10,000 a day — a good daily turnover from the Kashmiri lifestyle point of view.
She said her USP is the “intricate designs” customised as per the occasion or the person the cake is baked for.
For example, a cricketer ordered a cake for his engagement. She baked a two-tier cake that looked like a cricket stadium with a bat, a ball and three stumps.
For a photographer, Saniya made a camera-shaped cake. For a Barcelona fan, it was a football ground with the Barca crest as the topping. And a Microsoft Kashmiri employee got the multi-coloured Windows symbol and the four squares of the tech giant’s logo.
Lone called it spreading sweetness and happiness. “I am very fond of making people happy. And spreading sweetness is the best way.”
Doing that “involves a lot of work and dedication”.
Lone now makes desserts for wedding parties and is anticipating a hectic season after Ramadan — the month of fasting — ends in the first week of June. It will be Eid festivities and the start of the wedding season in Kashmir.
“The success so far has been sweeter than my cakes and I hope it will remain so,” Lone said.