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Kavitha Murugan started baking as a hobby, and was so skilled at it that she converted it into a business creating decorative cakes, The Madras Patissiere.
We are told that every girl dreams of a big, beautiful cake – perhaps at her wedding, perhaps at a birthday – but we seldom get to know the stories of the gorgeous women who bake them.
With buttercream and roses and flours and eggs – Kavitha Murugan is weaving a strong dream with her soft cakes. She has been successfully running the brand The Madras Pâtissière for the past two years.
Can a hobby that you merely learned online and practiced because you had the time to kill become a very successful business? Turns out, YES!
The Madras Patissiere started when someone decided to pay our baker here (who never wanted to become a serious home baker!) for one cake – and from there emerged a strong brand for this internet-taught baker Kavitha Murugan. Among other things like amazing brownies and lip-smacking desserts, her brand is also famous online for ‘keeping it simple!’ with their aesthetically designed pages.
Here is a sneak peek at her journey and how far she has come.
Tell us about how all this started – What was Kavitha doing before the joy of baking stuck?
I worked as an AML (Anti-money laundering) Analyst at BNP Paribas, Atlanta, Georgia, USA after my MBA in the States. Unfortunately, I had to quit my job and return to India – It was the year end, and nobody was hiring! The roles I did get did not match my skills/ pay-levels. So, I got myself an oven and started baking simply because I had a lot of time to kill!
I started baking almost every day, for every birthday of friends and family. People around me started telling me that I’m good at this and should make a business out of it. I said a big NO to everyone who offered me this advice. But one day, a friend of friends texted and asked if I could bake a cake for her and she’d pay me for it, that’s how started.
Having my own cafe/ restaurant has always been a dream and something I wanted to do post 40 years after saving up my cash for it. Little did I know I’d start a brand at 25 years.
What is your most favourite thing to bake and why?
BROWNIES! Brownies were one of the first few things I tested back then when I started. Tested so many batches before I arrived at this one and it’s been a signature ever since. And, it’s one thing I’m never tired of baking or eating it myself.
A lot of people have told that we have the “best brownies in Chennai”.
What are some challenges of being an entrepreneur in the food space?
At this age and time, restaurants, cafes, and food trucks are all around the city. We have more than one food joint in the street. But the saddest thing is, they pop like weeds and disappear even before we realize, they’re gone. People want to try something new all the time. They don’t want to go back to the same place again unless and until their food is EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD. So, the competition is really high, and getting a customer loyal to a brand is very difficult.
How has COVID-19 affected your work? As a small business owner, how does a lack of sales during these times affect the overall business?
We have completely shut down our business due to COVID- 19 and for the safety of our customers. We are mostly into celebration cakes and as they are heavily decorated, we request our clients themselves to come, pick it up and take it carefully. Our client base is scattered all around the city, so now that we are on a lockdown, people can’t commute and pick it up. Also, sourcing raw materials is a difficult task now. Luckily, we can fall back on our savings and we are utilizing this time to test a lot more desserts and come up with a new menu.
If you had to tell other women like you 3 things, what would those be?
It’s super important to be financially independent. Get yourself a bank account and make sure you have an income coming through big or small.
All of us are good at …something, find out what’s that one thing you love the most and make a living out of it, when you do that, the rest of your life, you’re only thinking of how to be better at it because you love it so much. Work is no longer boring when you’re passionate about it.
Be confident, think big, and never give up. Never ever give up just because you’re a woman and the society/family demand you give up your career for other reasons.
Find Kavitha Murugan on The Madras Patissiere Instagram page.
Image source: The Madras Patissiere
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A marketing graduate from the Indian School Of Business, Nandhitha is passionate about writing. She
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