For Geetha, it was a Christmas baking sale that sealed her fate as an entrepreneur in 2011. She had baked a 30-kg plum cake for the sale and it was sold out in two hours. A few months later, she started her own business as a home baker.
Today, Geetha is the proud owner of her own venture Fragrant Kitchen, which has wooed many dessert connoisseurs in Bengaluru with a wide range of cakes, rolls, breads and other baked goodies.
Geetha says that her love for baking led her to explore the art when she was just 13. Talking about how she went on from being a home baker to running her own venture, Geetha says, “In 2012, we had received orders for 900+ hampers for Christmas. I realised that I couldn’t fulfill the orders at home and needed more space. We had no choice but to move out of our home and shift to a commercial space.” A few days later, she opened Fragrant Kitchen.
While running her own venture wasn’t easy, but the journey taught Geetha many lessons. “My work-life balance took on a whole new meaning. I realised that the long hours didn’t matter much while I was at home, but it wasn’t as easy while working from a commercial unit,” she adds.
The special touch
On being asked about what sets her products apart, she says that she doesn’t add any chemicals or preservatives to her baked goods. “While maintaining transparency at all levels, we get inputs from our customers and update our menu based on their requests. Plus, we keep working on new recipes and adding new products,” she adds. Geetha says that she and her team work hard to maintain the quality and as word spread about the company, customers started pouring in at Fragrant Kitchen. But, what keeps her motivated? “A passion that every household has bread which is made without preservatives or additives,” quips Geetha.
The company also makes made-to-order breads and cakes. Fragrant Kitchen sells a range of breads, which includes sandwich bread, burger, hotdog buns, pizza base, paav, kulcha, flavored breads, baguette and focaccia bread.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, like most ventures Fragrant Kitchen’s operations were also affected. The first facility to take a hit was their home delivery service.
“We started B2B supplies in 2015 as we were getting requests from other restaurants for our burger buns. It grew slowly via referrals from within the industry. During the lockdown, it came to a complete stop. Many of our larger B2B customers (with a chain of outlets) are yet to resume operations. Some of the boutique players have resumed orders. Interestingly, we are seeing a spurt in smaller outlets being opened, many of whom are now our B2B customers,” explains Geetha.
While Geetha plans to expand to other cities, she feels that her lack of financial management and marketing skills are some of the challenges that might impede her progress. She believes that her participation in GAME’s Xcelerator Bangalore is a step in the right direction and will help her make progress in these areas.
“Over the last few weeks of interaction, I have already learnt and implemented a few small things like delegating tasks. I have hired someone to handle calls and outsourcing digital marketing just to name a few. Most of my learning so far has been on the ground. I look forward to a structured learning which I am confident will help me scale ahead,” says Geetha.
Xcelerator Bangalore aims at accelerating the growth of women-owned businesses in Bengaluru and provide support to growth-oriented women entrepreneurs across sectors and support them to learn, collaborate and network with various stakeholders through a multitude of workshops, learning and mentoring sessions. This series highlights the work of 24 women entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first cohort of the Xcelerator Bangalore programme.