A small business founded and run by two sisters in Chennai during the lockdown, Sara’s Cookies and Brownies, has now grown into a full-scale venture with orders coming in from various parts of the city and other surrounding areas.
In a light-hearted conversation with Anupama. A for the #VoLocal campaign an initiative by News Aur Chai Media, SARANYA RAJU shared the interesting story about her venture that recently hit 1000 followers in their official Instagram page.
It all began when Saranya, a 28-year-old production engineer and consultant, decided to find the best recipe for her favourite dessert.
“I love brownies a lot, but I’ve found that we don’t get the right ones in Chennai. I tried out so many recipes and failed several times before I finally found the perfect one.”
Aishwarya, Saranya’s younger sister, suggested that the ardent baker try and sell the brownies she was making. Upon her persistence, Saranya hesitantly agreed to bake one batch a week, while Aishwarya took care of the marketing and social media aspects. However, both sisters were amazed by the kind of response the initiative received.
“I currently bake around 100 brownies a day!” exclaimed Saranya, with a laugh. “We began only 2-3 weeks back. We were surprised ourselves. I think we had so many responses and orders because people enjoyed the taste.”
The home-cook attributed the success of her business idea to the unique taste of the brownies and the reasonable price at which they are sold.
“If you observe, most traditional sweet shops sell their sweets in huge quantities.” She explained. “But when it comes to desserts like brownies, you see people buying one piece for 250 rupees. The whole idea was to try and sell brownies in bulk at a reasonable price.”
When asked if the sisters faced any difficulties while beginning the venture, Saranya replied that since they hadn’t anticipated the kind of response they received, they weren’t able to package or present it as well as she had hoped to due to unavailability of shops during the lockdown.
“I felt bad because we were packing and sending the cookies and brownies in aluminium foil boxes.” She said. “But now, due to the relaxation on the lockdown, we can use more presentable packaging.”
Meanwhile, about the initial finance, she said “Well, for a venture like baking, the profit percentages are usually a lot more than what you invest in the business. So, you don’t need external funding,” Saranya explained. “And right now, we are running a very small-scale venture, where the entire operation is run at home. When we want to expand production to somewhere between 400-1000 brownies a day, that’s when we’ll need to think about bringing in more funds.”
Saranya also discussed how the delivery system worked. As of now, the home business has collaborated with several delivery partners, depending on the location of the orders. While they avail services from Dunzo for deliveries within the city, they also use other logistic players for ones outside city limits.
“We also try connecting routes – like if there are a lot of people who order from Tambaram today then we try clubbing all orders for Tambaram so that the delivery charges are shared amongst and less,” she elaborated. “Otherwise, sometimes, delivery charges can be a lot higher than the product itself.”
The duo also hopes to expand the business if the orders keep coming in post lockdown. When asked if their business was affected negatively because of the lockdown, Saranya felt different and replied that it had aided more than it affected it.
“People are looking for homemade products now,” she said. “They feel it is safer. Because of the lockdown, people don’t get to shop or spend money on anything other than food. So, instead of ordering it from a restaurant that would charge them a lot more, why not order something a lot more reasonable with much better taste?”
When asked what they had planned for the future, the home-baker replied that she hoped to try different recipes to try and cater to individual customer requirements that they weren’t able to provide to with their current recipe.
“We’ve missed out on a lot of orders that ask for eggless, vegan, or healthier options,” said Saranya. “A lot of people want sugar replacements as well. While there are such recipes out there, finding one that tastes as good as the brownies we make now, is difficult. I’m working on a tastier recipe to cater to these requests as well.”
The sisters also hope to deliver to more locations beyond the city.
“We get a lot of orders from places like Kanchipuram, and others beyond Chennai,” Saranya explained. “We are looking into hiring courier services to reach out to customers there as well.”
While they currently use Instagram and WhatsApp to reach out to customers and take in orders, the duo hopes to expand their social media presence to platforms like Facebook as well.
“We are considering expanding to Facebook since we have more of a Chennai foodies there,” said Saranya. “Though Instagram mostly consists of people from Bangalore, Mumbai, or Delhi, Chennai has been very active lately.”
To order delicious homemade cookies and brownies, check out their Instagram page here.
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