Social networking sites like facebook have provided a costless venue for low-profile home-based ventures to get rapid publicity. Consequently, several mushrooming businesses for confectionery and gift-wrapping — started mainly by young women and housewives — are using Facebook to promote their projects.
Facebook is especially replete with pages and communities advertising local homemade businesses for cakes. One click on these promotional pages will exhibit a deluge of photographs offering close-ups of multi-coloured fondant frostings encasing edible Gucci bags, soccer balls and doll houses. Mouth-watering cake layers of chocolate and cream, the scrumptious muffins supersized cookies visually seduce people into placing orders for these tasty treats.
With the saturation of homemade confectionary businesses in the country, it becomes difficult for individual entrepreneurs to highlight the unique selling points of their products. Yet some are trying to establish their name in the market by pushing the edge of innovation in crafting and molding their sweet treats.
Khansa Tariq is one such confectionary connoisseur, who just she started her confectionery outlet, Essence, at her home last year in June 2010.
Yet like most homemade cakes, her creations are also a little on the expensive side, compared to regular Hobnob cakes. But Tariq has an explanation to defend the exorbitant prices of her products: “The high prices of my products reflect their high quality. The cakes that are sold in bakeries are generic and do not have the kind of work and creativity put into them like mine do.
Thus you cannot compare the prices of my cakes with those available at conventional bakeries.”
The businesswoman goes on to further defend her stance. “Decorative personalized cakes that I specialise in are not just hard work; they are in fact a work of art. From carefully molding fondant into flowers with intricate petals to choosing the appropriate food colors, the finished products that I create consumed effort and time. Thus, they cannot be compared to general cakes sold in bakeries; even the most sophisticated ones,” she asserts. “The people who pay for my cakes are aware of this fact. They want cakes which reflect precious moments. They want more than the generic cake!”
Essence currently has a growing clientele. “At Essence, the main focus has always been balancing high quality with a look that is aesthetically pleasing. What I feel is that most of the in-house bakeries find it hard to balance the two. I am a perfectionist by nature. I never offer a product, with which I am not highly satisfied.”
Apart from offering grand custom-made cakes, Tariq also offers a range of delectable cupcakes with diverse toppings. But what do her clients prefer?
“The ratio is pretty much equal. Cupcakes give clients’ the freedom to personalise every piece but cakes give them a bigger canvas to personalise the product according to their tastes and preferences. Yet for birthdays, the concentration is more on a traditional big cake. The cupcakes trend is very recent but growing fast.”
She has big plans for her business in future. A range of confectionery items — including cheese cakes, fortune cupcakes — will be displayed at her outlet very soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.