Do you bake for fun or just enjoy the process of looking at someone bake a cake? What makes the process fun is that the chef can mix and match different flavors and textures into one single dessert. What makes a dessert stand out is when your taste buds excite after eating it. It’s that feeling when you feel happier when you leave than when you came in.
Anuja S. Joshi has done what many others only dream about – starting a successful home business doing what she loves at a very young age. Her love for baking goes way back to her childhood days which was then a stress buster, is now a full-blown home business called Chocolamour. Looking at Anuja’s wonderfully crafted cakes and desserts, you would never guess that this home baker has no professional training. What makes Chocolamour unique is that it has new and innovative ways of celebrating every occasion. Not ignoring the fact that locals in Goa observe Shravan month quite religiously and tend to eat only vegetarian food which does not include onion or garlic, Anika curated a Shravan Special menu called ‘Shravan Cho Aaswad’ just for them. The menu contained sweet traditional dishes, which nowadays people do not make at home.
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At Goan Insider, we talk to Anuja about how she got into baking and the initial and ongoing challenges of having a business like Chocolamour. She also shares advice for aspiring home bakers. The excerpts of our conversation are below.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Anuja S. Joshi, born and brought up in Panaji Goa. I have studied BBA in Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism at Goa University. I started my professional journey in a Travel Software Company based in Panjim Goa. It was very much related to my interest in traveling around the world, but working in corporate was not my cup of tea. After I quit my job I joined my dad in our family business as a coordinator at the showroom and began learning in-depth about furnishing and working of business in general.
Baking was always my passion and I have been baking brownies and cakes ever since I was in 11th grade. It used to be my stress buster activity and I used to just experiment with different types of chocolate cakes and brownies. Yes, just chocolate flavors because thats what was most preferred in my house.
When I was completing my graduation I got an opportunity to intern at Cremeux Cafe on MG Road where I learned the working of a cafeteria and always hoped that I would one day have my own. Eventually, when I was a member of the Rotaract Club of Panjim, I started baking celebration cakes for small celebrations like Charter Night or Victory Celebration. This helped me gain confidence in my baking skills. I had a good bunch of people from different backgrounds to experiment on in this club.
What is the inspiration behind starting Chocolamour? How did you come up with the name?
With time I realized that I was getting better at baking and saw many baking enthusiasts starting their own range of Home Baked Products. Then covid happened and we were under lockdown. It was my sister’s 18th birthday, so I baked a cake for her and shot a video while I was decorating the same, and posted on Instagram. I got an unexpected amount of messages asking if I was selling cakes.
That made me start my own range of Home Baked products. Now the main point was to come up with a unique name for my Instagram page. Since I had been a big fan of baking Chocolate Flavoured cakes I thought I would name my page with a name that shows love for Chocolate. Hence I came up with the name “Chocolamour” where Chocol is short for Chocolate and Amour means a secret love affair in French.
Did you ever get formal training or did you just jump right into starting this brand?
I did not undergo any formal training as such initially. I learned most of the techniques from Youtube. Also, I have baker friends who have undergone formal training who help me out whenever I am in need.
What makes Chocolamour unique from other such brands in Goa?
Chocolamour has fully personalized services. During the lockdown, we started with DIY Cupcake Kits where anyone could frost their own cupcakes. It is a great bonding activity for parents with their kids and something recreational indeed. Due to the lockdown, people had to celebrate their birthdays or anniversaries just within their family, and buying a 1kg or half kg cake would sometimes go out of their budget or would be always extra. Hence we introduced a mini cake range where the cake weighs about 250-350 grams which is sufficient enough for 2-4 people. We are trying to adapt to every situation and make our customers happy with the best quality products.
What product(s) or service(s) does your brand provide?
We have a variety of cupcakes, brownies, mini cakes, eclairs, jar desserts, and we also make celebration cakes. Also, delivery is done for free of cost if the order amount is able to cover our delivery expenses. Weekly deliveries are done in Porvorim and Mapusa as well.
Tell us about your Shravan Special menu
As we know, many locals in Goa observe Shravan Month religiously and tend to eat only vegetarian food which does not include onion or garlic. At Chocolamour, we introduced the Shravan Special Menu which included traditional sweet dishes like Mangane, Kanna, Sukurunne, Kakaai Wade and Shirvolyo which are now hardly made at home. We were a bit skeptical when we introduced the same as we didn’t know how consumers would react. But by the end of Shravan, we had sold over 200 portions of Shirvolyo and around 100 portions of Sukurunne and Kakaai Wade. So our “Shravan Cho Aswaad” (Shravan special menu) was hit!
Tell us about your creative process. How do you come up with new ideas and flavours?
I usually do research on what is trending, whether any new flavors are now liked by people, like Biscoff Cupcakes. If anytime my clients request me for a new flavor I do reach out to my baker friends and make the best recipe possible to satisfy my clients’ tastebuds.
How do you market your brand?
Marketing is usually done on my Instagram and Facebook page. Now there are many groups which have come up to promote small businesses, that helps me a lot! Along with that, I tend to update everyone in my circle about the new flavors or offers which are there through Whatsapp.
What is the hardest part about being a business owner?
Since the whole business is individually handled by myself it becomes a bit hard! Everything from sourcing raw materials to delivering the end product and also marketing and making posters of the products is done by me. But this hard work pays off when at the end of the day I get messages from my clients that they are in love with my baked products.
What has been your most memorable experience in business?
One evening, late at night I got a message from my client saying her friend who is pregnant is craving super moist dark chocolate cake. And Voila! The next morning I made sure that I satisfied my client’s cravings. I delivered a lovely mini cake with ‘indulge’ written on it!
Chocolamour has now become a brand that clients crave for and that’s what makes my whole experience of baking amazing!
What is the aim with this brand?
To move from Home Bakery to an outlet someday!
What are your thoughts about branding?
I believe that my products are the best brand ambassadors. If I give the right taste and best quality product, they do branding for themselves.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about starting a business like yours?
I would say go ahead! Experiment! Try out different and unique ways to reach out to your clients. But also keep in mind that success doesn’t come overnight. A continuous hustle to learn something new every day is a must. Failures will come your way, but don’t give up.
How can our readers stay connected with you as well as your brand?
They can get in touch with me on my Instagram or Facebook profile or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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