I am sure everyone is familiar with the phrase, ‘We eat with our eyes first.’ Therefore, when you have the opportunity to create edible works of art, it’s important to capture your customer’s attention who will eventually enjoy the cake or dessert. We are all obsessed with beautiful cakes and I’m sure we all faintly remember those oohing and aahing moments over marvelous cake designs which are the highlight of any celebration. Every good bash deserves a super yummy cake, don’t you agree?
Sculpting sugary goodness is Aqsa Lakdawalla’s all-time favorite thing to do!! The quality of the cake is at the center of everything. As a professional baker, she never lets artistry distract her from creating something that tastes fantastic. With her brand ‘Cakes on Skate’, she keeps up with the latest dessert trends with innovative new cakes. Cakes, french pastries, mini desserts, donuts, brownies, chocolates, cheesecakes, and tea cakes, you just name it, their menu will just make your mouth water. Guess what? Cakes on skates also can cater to dairy and gluten-free clients with their keto brownies, gluten-free cakes, protein bars, and healthy bombs. What made her brand so popular was the quick delivery, sometimes 2-3 hours from when the order was placed. With speed along with quality as their selling point, Aqsa quickly set up cloud kitchens in the food capital of two states, Mumbai and Indore. They have received orders from not only famous bloggers and content creators but also from Bollywood celebrities with their recent anniversary cake for Zayed and Mallaika Khan.
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At Goan Insider we had a conversation with Aqsa to go over all things delicious and learn a little more about her creative insights!
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a 25 year old certified pastry chef with a Masters’ degree in Business Psychology. Baking has always been my passion and ‘Cakes on Skates’ was a result of this.
What is the inspiration behind Cakes on skates? How did you come up with the name?
The first time I baked a cake was when I was 11 years old for my mom’s birthday. To be honest, it was pathetic but she still put a huge smile on her face and ate most of it. And that’s when my baking journey began. I used to watch a lot of cooking shows, try out different recipes in my free time and then distribute it amongst my neighbors. I remember when I was 16 years old, y friend insisted that I start with home baking as a part-time business. He was very confident I’ll make it, maybe he saw that drive in me. So my sister and I went from door to door in our society with my cake menu and sample cake bites for everyone to taste. I still remember the first order I got was for 6 red velvet cupcakes and I cannot express how happy I was.
I started with ‘Cakes on Skates’ in 2011. This name was suggested by my sister. The whole idea behind this name is speed. I used to take same-day urgent orders. And bake cakes fresh for my clients from scratch. The order used to be ready within 2-3hours and even today we are continuing to do so. Also, the name is different and catchy. So I stuck to that.
Did you ever get formal training or did you just jump right into starting this brand?
Even though I was getting a good amount of orders without doing a decent course, I still felt very stagnant and I wanted to grow more. That’s when I decided to go to the Academy of Pastry Arts in Bangalore. My course in Bangalore started in May 2019. It’s was a 9-month course exclusively for pastry.
What makes Cakes on skates unique from other such brands in Goa?
‘Cakes on skates’ started off as a home baking setup and grew into a full-fledged cloud kitchen. The most unique part about Cakes on Skates is the wide range of menu we provide which includes not only cakes but also french pastries and other desserts. We add new and exclusive flavors every month to our menu. Pinata cake and photo roller cakes were pioneered by us.
What product(s) or service(s) does your brand provide?
Our brand provides a wide range of cakes, french pastries, mini desserts, donuts, brownies, chocolates, cheesecakes, and tea cakes. We also provide our clients with keto brownies, gluten-free cakes, protein bars, and healthy bombs. Along with the regular cake orders, we cater desserts for private parties and corporate events.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
I have a super supportive team of 4 dynamic women, consisting of an operations manager, an assistant pastry chef, a pastry intern, and an all-time helper. The hospitality industry is male-dominated and it boosted my coincidence when I found my team of highly talented and hard-working women.
I hired my friend who is from Indore to be my operations manager. I still remember the time when I called her up and told her about what I was planning. I asked her if she would want to come down and handle my operations, and without giving it a second thought her reply was “ yes I will come, let me know when.” I found my other staff through social media platforms and word of mouth. It’s crazy how we all found each other and connected so well.
Cakes on skates is set up not only in Goa, but in Mumbai and Indore as well. How did you go about this process in a short span of time?
We ship brownies, cookies, and loaf cakes all over India. We always received a good response from people traveling from Mumbai to Goa for various occasions. During the pandemic, we observed that the food industry was the only industry that was booming and along with our cloud kitchen in Goa, we also thought of expanding. That’s when we launched our cloud kitchen in the food capital of two states, Mumbai and Indore. Both the places are handled by chefs trained under me.
Tell us about your creative process. How do you come up with new ideas and flavours?
I have been travelling around the world since I was a child and having a sweet tooth lead me to try new flavours and desserts. I also enjoy doing a lot of research behind every single ingredient that goes into a dessert. We have trial sessions of new flavours which are given to regular clients for feedback. Every month we have a brainstorming session on the new items that we can provide to the clients in all our branches. Also, due to no communication barriers the staff is free to pitch in their ideas at any time.
How do you market your brand?
Social media is a huge marketing platform for us. We collaborate with various food bloggers from Goa, Mumbai and Indore, where we give them our products and they write a review about it. Through social media we have also received orders from famous bloggers, content creators, and bollywood celebrities. Recently, we made the anniversary cake of Zayed and Mallaika Khan.
Getting on board with Swiggy has also given us recognition. Word of mouth is also a huge source of marketing.
What is the hardest part about being a business owner?
To be honest, I love what I do but I don’t have time for myself. Before I started the cloud kitchen I used to travel a lot, meet friends and move out without thinking twice. But now my first and only priority is my business. It’s quite stressful as I have to meet the set targets each month, come up with different creative ideas and reach out to maximum customers.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
Every day of the week I am at work by 10 am. My staff comes in by 10:30 am and we start working on the orders that we have for the current day and the ongoing Swiggy orders. I also shoot and upload IGTV videos of easy and trending recipes for our followers. My day is usually very long and hectic. We close by 7 pm but there have been days when we have worked till 11 pm because of the large number of orders.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about starting a business like yours?
The only advice I would like to give is to stay focused and think out of the box. Always be a step ahead and never lose hope. Try different things and keep experimenting because that’s how your business will grow and you’ll get more recognition.
How can our readers stay connected with you as well as your brand?
The best way to connect to us is through Instagram. We respond to all the messages within no time.
What’s coming up for your brand down the road?
As of now, I am very busy handling the 3 outlets but I do have a few more expansion plans. Hopefully, they will work out by 2021.
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