Inspiring Mompreneur : Shinta Simon
Welcome to yet another edition of the Times Of Amma Mompreneur series where we talk to mothers who have transformed their passions into money-making ventures.From online jewellery stores, to handmade craft collectibles to potential actualizing workshops and much more. We hope that their accounts of the highs and lows of their entrepreneurial journey will inspire other mothers to hold on to their dreams and follow them through. Today we speak to Shinta Simon who has guest posted for us before. Shinta is a full-time mother, and lives in Switzerland with her 2-year old son and husband. In her ‘previous life’ as a Marketing professional, she was based in Bangalore. She is passionate about cooking, and tries to incorporate unprocessed and natural food as much as possible in their lives. She bakes and chronicles her baking adventures on Facebook as Sugar Rush and their daily adventures on Instagram as voteforfishcurryrice. Shinta is slowly but steadily making a name for herself as a baker in Switzerland and this is what we will be chatting about today.
Could you tell us a little about your professional journey so far? My little family of three moved to Switzerland in 2014, giving me time to take a career break. I decided to pursue my hobbies in a more dedicated way. I have several interests, but decided to focus on baking, something I’ve always been passionate about but never had enough time to pursue. My friends and family encouraged me to take this forward and I began taking cake orders for friends. It’s been nearly a year since then, and as a self-taught baker, and I am happy to see how farI’ve come in this flour-filled world of cake-making. With each cake, be it a birthday cake, baby-shower cake or a wedding cake, it’s been a wonderful learning experience. Was it tough to make the switch to entrepreneurship?
The journey so far has been slow and steady and I’ve been taking on just enough, so that it doesn’t take time away from my full-time role as a stay-at- home-mom.
I prioritize and space out orders, and there has only been one instance of 2 simultaneous orders on the same day. So, by making sure that I am not overwhelmed with orders, I have not faced the kind of strenuous pressure most entrepreneurs would face. I still enjoy experimenting with cakes, in my spare time, and entrepreneurship feels like a natural extension of my hobby.
Have things gone according to your business plan?
Since my venture, Sugar Rush, is still in its infancy, I am still chalking out a business plan. There are several ideas that I have plans to work on, specifically, a line of cakes inspired by traditional Indian ‘mithai’, and hopefully, my own specialty cake store some years down the line.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced, thus far?
Bakers, specifically cake decorators, tend to be night owls. This has meant several late nights making fondant toppers and minute detailing. In the business of food, you have to be careful with quality of ingredients, accommodate for food allergies, dietary preferences, etc. Being based in Switzerland has meant that I have to keep pace with the market here by learning the local language, and Swiss German is far from easy to learn. Marketing to local customers (non-English-speaking) is challenging. I find that running Facebook ads, and having a strong social presence is very helpful when you are promoting your venture in a new market.
What have the highlights of your entrepreneurial journey been?
Every time a client tells me they loved the cake I made, not just because it looked good, but because it tasted great as well.
I am finicky about flavor combinations and take great pains to avoid excess fondant on my cakes, because I personally don’t like the taste and texture of fondant. When I advise my clients against fondant, they are initially skeptical but are pleasantly surprised by the look of the cake once it’s done. That gives me a thrill every time.
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
I take cake orders at least a week in advance. This gives me sufficient time to decide on a cake design with the client and to plan out the sourcing of ingredients, etc. I bake my cake layers a day in advance and the 24 hour run-up to the day of delivery is when I really roll up my sleeves and get cracking.
Once my son is asleep, I put on some music in my kitchen and get to work finishing the cake, and adding decorations and final touches. The reward of a night of hard work is there to see in the morning, and I wouldn’t trade that high for anything.
Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as far as starting a business is concerned?
Being a mother brought out the latent multi-tasker and innovator in me! I learnt so much being a mom to a spirited toddler. I feel that being a mother has made me a lot more open to challenges,and quashed several of my earlier fears.
As a cake decorator/ baker, I have to be wary of my son lurking around and attempting to bite into my cakes or play with the fondant figures. But this again makes me think creatively, so for example, I give him some fondant to roll out so that he feels a sense of ownership and feels like he is part of what mummy is working on.
What advice do you have for other young mothers who would like to transform their hobbies into money-making ventures?
For all entrepreneurs in general, my two pence would be, if you do it just for the money, then it kills the joy that you derive from your hobby. If you are passionate enough, you can be successful at anything you do. For mothers in particular, who have to manage a family and often a career too, it’s important to prioritize. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Just as new mothers take a while to find their natural rhythm with their baby, handling any new venture takes time and practice. There will be late nights, and plenty of hard work, but if the results make you happy, then you’ve succeeded.
~ Shinta, thank you for your time! We are certain that you have inspired many a mum to follow her dreams and you have also left many of us (me, for one) craving for a sugar rush of our own! For more conversations with Inspiring Momepreneurs like Shinta, follow the Times of Amma on Facebook and Instagram. If you are a Mompreneur who would like to be featured, message us via Facebook or email us via the contact form here. We'll see you there!