Baking with Love: Maria Reju

Testing times create wonderful leaders. The challenges that are thrown at you sculpt a person in you that you never knew existed before. When time runs out, you try to inculcate habits to ensure that the task that you have taken up does not lie incomplete, and a few months down the line, you look back to find your feats adorn your life.

The lockdown gave us all a much-needed break to explore what we always planned on doing. Some identified their passion for skill and fed to that fire to come out as a different person at the end of the year. Here is a student who catered to her desire of baking, currently the proud owner of an online cake business Caked by Weirdo. In conversation with Maria Reju on her tale of running a business as a full-time student,

Tell us about yourself, your background, and your ventures.

I am Maria Reju, a Graduate currently pursuing an MBA at SCMS Cochin School of Business. I am a home baker by passion and I own a business named “Caked By Weirdo” through which cakes, homemade chocolates, brownies, etc. are all served with pure homemade love.

How did you fall in love with baking? When did you realize that this was your passion?

My journey with baking started when my uncle gifted us an oven in 2019. I had a few failed attempts at baking in the early days of 2020. It was during the lockdown period that I tried to work on it and improve my skill. I still faced issues with the icing and complexity of the cake but constant attempts trying to mend the issues proved useful that I decided to start my own business after a surprise that I planned for my best friend exceeded expectations and I started receiving orders because of that one cake I experimented with. Since then I have been trying to cater to the needs and realising that I could indeed transform my wish to be an entrepreneur into a reality.

What are the products and services that you deliver?

We mainly deliver cakes and homemade chocolates. Frosted cakes are more demanding and customization is also available in case of frosted the cakes and other items. We also provide dessert table arrangements for special occasions.

What are some of the challenges you faced while setting a career in this field? How did you overcome these?

Delivery of the products was an issue that I faced in the early days of this business. But people around me showed up to lend a helping hand when I found this issue daunting. Parents, friends, cousins stepped up, even some of the customers opted for takeaways to ease my trouble. Being a student, managing the business along with classes was another issue. It turned out that maintaining a proper schedule helped me take my business along with my studies. My friends whom I have met only through video calls came in to help me with revisions to ease my pain.

Do you have a role model you look up to? If yes, what are the qualities that you admire of that person? If no, then why?

Without a second thought, I would say that my dad would be my role model. The way he put up efforts to start a business of his own from scratch motivates me to sculpt my career in a similar way. He is a multitasker and I believe that those genes that I inherited helped me manage a business along with my studies.

What else do you pursue outside of this? And how does a regular day in your life look like? What is your schedule?

I am currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at SCMS Cochin School of Business, Aluva. I am a first-year student there. My regular day begins with the online classes from 9 in the morning. Evening Is the time when I find time for baking. According to the number of orders, I try to manage them by extending to late-night sessions.

What are your future plans? Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am planning on pursuing a job after my two years of MBA. But I intend to take this business along with my regular job. I see myself expanding my business at the end of five years and see myself achieve the dream of being an entrepreneur, which ignited my mind while I was an eighth-grader.

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