27-year-old Ashwini Catherine, has been making organic, homemade cakes from her home at CIT Colony Link Street, since September 2019. However, till early this year she had only 10 to 12 customers. Friends and their friends.
Post lockdown, her clientele has grown to 50. And this is making her feel good.
Says Ashwini, a homemaker, “Following the lockdown, as people are mostly homebound, cake cutting is the only option available for them to celebrate their special days. And now, as most people are switching towards healthier food habits, they prefer home-made cakes.”
This trend, she says has worked positively to take her business to the next level. “Unlike pre-Covid times, when I used to get only one or two orders a week, now I’m getting five, sometimes even ten a day.”
“I picked up baking skills from YouTube tutorial videos and from baker friends.” Soon, she began making simple banana and chocolate cakes. “I used to offer them to relatives/neighbours on their birthdays and anniversaries. Everyone liked them,” she beams.
But then her priorities changed. The BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications) graduate took up a job at an auditing firm.
After which she got married and had a girl child. “When my daughter was born, I was on maternity leave.”
It was during that period (Sept. last year) that she again re-visited her passion and decided to bank on it, to be financially independent and to ‘give back’ to her mother, who she says has single-handedly raised her. “Also, I wanted to run the business from home, so I can spend time with my child.”
Thus was born ‘Avryn’s Homemade Cakes’, Ashwini’s venture, named after her two-year-old daughter.
However, she had to do something different to stand out from “the many people, who were increasingly venturing into home-baking at that time.”
And so she came up with the idea of using organic essences (colours) to offer a healthier version of cakes.
“Usually people use food/gel colours to colour cakes. However, I learnt it was not healthy. Hence, I offered cakes made out of natural colours.”
“I would extract say yellow from turmeric and red from beetroot.”
The initial set of cakes made this way were sold to Ashwini’s friends and neighbours. “They were all impressed and the big pat came from my friend Juliana. I was encouraged to go on this path in the business,” she says.
Through word of mouth buzz, Instagram and Facebook promotion, more people got to know her business. Orders started coming in, slowly. But it was not until early April, this year that her business boomed.
Ashwini now offers 25 cake varieties. It includes fruit cakes (mango, Kiwi, strawberry) and cream-based cakes like vanilla, chocolate. Her specials, she says are choco truffle and ras malai cake. She also makes brownies, cup cakes, tea time cakes, carrot, orange cakes, wheat cakes, and oats cookies.
“In all of them, I try and have only natural ingredients,” Ashwini says and adds, “For instance, to make a strawberry cake, instead of using sugar syrup, I use strawberry juice to prepare cake base. Then I would add freshly chopped strawberries in between the cake. And spread cream, mixed with strawberry juice on the cake. So when people eat it, they will get an authentic strawberry flavour.”
She also makes customised designs on cakes.
“My entire family, including my husband, mother and brother support me in this business. In fact, my brother goes to far off places in Chennai to deliver our cakes.”
A kilo of choco truffle cake is priced at Rs 1000. For wedding orders, people have to book one day in advance. Door delivery is available. Ashwini can be reached at Ph: 9884947702. Her Instagram/Facebook page – ‘avryns’.