4 MIN READ
Sheela Shrestha has always loved experimenting in the kitchen. A mother and a housewife, she has spent much of her life, almost 20 years, trying new recipes and whipping up something in the kitchen for her family.
Then in 2020, when the pandemic began and the country went into total lockdown, she started trying her hand in learning something new in the kitchen: baking. And before she knew it, she was hooked. Soon, she was baking cakes for every occasion — whether it was a birthday or an anniversary — and they were always a big hit with the family.
Urged by her father-in-law, Shrestha then enrolled in a two-month training course from her local community via a women’s support group in her community, in Satdobato, Lalitpur. “My father-in-law believes that women can and must do something and not just be stuck with household chores. I am grateful that he pushed me," she said.
During the many months of lockdown, with much time to spare, many people revisited old hobbies or made new ones. Some, like Shrestha, discovered a love of baking during the pandemic and that her new passion could be more than a hobby.
Thus, Shrestha, encouraged by her daughter Dhilasha, started selling her cakes online. Today, almost two years later, Shrestha successfully runs an Instagram page called Sweet Bike Bakes. She’s no longer just a housewife but a legit business woman.
“My mother bakes while I take in orders and share reviews with her. We have sold over 100 cakes and each one of them has sent in positive feedback which has encouraged my mother to continue her work. I am happy that I am able to support her in this way," says 20-year-old Dhilasha.
While Shrestha bakes, her daughter handles the social media account, and her husband delivers the cakes to customers. Through her cakes, Sheela easily makes around Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 a month, which is good money for a baker just starting off in her home kitchen. Sheela hopes to open her own bakery one day.
“Not only do I want to open my own bakery, but I also want to give training to housewives like me and show them that they too are capable of achieving something," she said.
There are others like Shrestha who bake religiously out of passion. Raised in Singapore, Anisha Gurung's passion for baking started back in 2012 when she was still in Singapore. When her father retired from The Gurkha Contingent, her family moved to Nepal in 2018. But it was not only till the lockdown of 2020 that Anisha decided to revive her passion for baking.
The 20-year-old runs a social media page, bakinschmaking, where she takes orders and sells her cakes. “I baked a lot during the lockdown period. My parents saw my passion for it and bought the necessary supplies I needed to make better quality cakes,” said Gurung.
Gurung adds that baking has now become not only her hobby but also a form of therapy. “There is something therapeutic about baking, though the process of cleaning up may be a hassle; however, the end result always brings a smile to my face and makes me feel accomplished,” she said.
With a graduate degree in Food Technology at Tribhuvan University, for Radhika Bade, cooking or baking was not something new. But during the lockdown in 2020, she realised her potential as a baker and left her full-time job to dedicate all her time to baking. “I don’t regret it at all, as baking has always been something I enjoy doing. Thanks to the pandemic, I had ample time to perfect my skills and open my online shop on Instagram," says Radhika.
Her story with her Instagram store Maichascakes starts when she became famous on TikTok for her version of a “bento cake”, which is basically a mini version of a full-sized cake that is perfect for small celebrations.
Cashing in on the popularity of the bento cake, Bade also started baking cupcakes, which she sells in a combo package. Together with her mother, she handles the baking while her elder brother takes orders and handles the social media account. Radhika says she’s been making Rs 50,000 a month and is able to support herself and continue running the business smoothly.
Based in Purano Thimi, Bhaktapur, the 26-year-old shares that she wants to continue running her business till she decides to further her studies.
“I am happy with where Maichascakes has reached. I’m not sure how much it will grow in the coming years but I am certainly going to continue baking,” she said.
Shristi Sherchan Raised in Singapore, Shristi Sherchan is a student who also works as a Social Media Intern for The Record. Her side hustle is owning a small business and teaching English to young children.
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