Now, Jain, 25, owns a bakery, Dream a Dozen in JP Nagar — a bakery she runs employing not only business savvy, but with a staff of only women, some of whom were not traditionally what a bakery would employ.Jun 23, 2021, 18 20 | Updated: Jun 26, 2021, 14 38
Megna Jain’s enterprise of secretly selling cupcakes from under her college desk, did very well. She knew then that she was going to fulfil her ambition of being an entrepreneur and the business of baking cupcakes was her entry ticket.
Now, Jain owns a bakery, Dream a Dozen in JP Nagar — a bakery she runs employing not only business savvy, but with a staff of only women, some of whom were not traditionally what a bakery would employ.
She said her business, Dream A Dozen is successful, both as a retail business and also as a corporate vendor, where she counts several large companies, including Accenture and Cisco, as clients.
Becoming an entrepreneur was something that inspired Megna Jain. Her grandmother was an entrepreneur. While initially, she was not sure what business she wanted to be in, the success of her bootleg cupcake business in college set her path for her.
With neither formal training as a baker nor experience as a businessperson, (other than presenting prize winning business plans in college), Jain reasoned with herself that she needed to be an entrepreneur first and a baker next.
Fascinated by what a little butter, sugar and flour could when paired with a marketing plan, her first experiments were to sell her cupcakes in her apartment and in college. The success of this foray encouraged her to make things formal.
Having briefly trained with a traditional bakery to gain experience, in March 2020, she moved her business Dream A Dozen into its own place.
She daydreamed of the queue that would wind around the building on launch day.
Instead, Covid struck and everything changed.
Adapting to the new circumstances required some tangential thought. The closure of retail businesses consequent to the lockdown meant that there was not going to be any queues of customers wrapped around the building and indeed, no store at all.
Work from home not being an option for a bakery, Jain was down, but not out. She needed to beat the odds. So, first, she gave her team members things to do. She made them practice piping techniques, gave them quizzes on cake ingredients.
She spent hours grooming and refining their skills. And this paid off as the piping techniques used by Dream A Dozen are now a signature feature of their cakes.
During lockdown days she conducted online baking workshops for her friends and family and by this process, Jain was able to sustain her business. In fact, business doubled between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Jain did not start her business with a lot of capital. She had to make do with what she had. When she needed product photos, coloured chart paper became backdrops, the balcony became her studio, the clothesline a backdrop holder, and her father’s phone, the camera.
She said that when they started they did not have the money to hire the staff they needed so they successfully invited virtual internships.
Using innovative hiring methods also meant not typically employing the men who had experience working in other bakeries. Instead, she employed only women, most if not all being inexperienced.
In India, at most 3% of a commercial kitchen workforce is female. Many employees are migrant workers and are unused to having a woman work like a man, what with all the heavy lifting (of pots, pans and scales). “I decided that Dream a Dozen would be an all women kitchen, an anomaly in a male-centric industry,” Jain told Explocity.
Jain’s kitchen wholly comprises women from different backgrounds. Some of them come from poorer backgrounds with limited education. But, what they lack in background, they make up for with their drive and enthusiasm to learn and grow.
Some employees are pastry chefs. They have the ability to create recipes from scratch and customise intricate cakes.
Jain said that she takes pride in her team, made up of girls as young as 19 or 20. Their new skills have helped these women to bigger and better aspirations. YouTube and Instagram allow them to showcase their new found skills and confidence. “Despite their different backgrounds, the girls come together, for the love of the craft. This is evident in the beautiful cakes and desserts they create together,” Jain said.
With a good product and well grounded operations, Jain attracted business from corporate clients. During the stay at home orders in the pandemic, she shipped boxes of cupcakes to client’s employees, across India.
Her business acumen includes the knowledge that she needs to build on her relationships with her customers. “Human connection is absolutely irreplaceable and appreciated. Making the person feel special for a moment; keeps them coming back to you, again and again,” she said.
With the pandemic and lockdown jokes about everyone becoming a home baker, we asked Jain if she felt threatened. Jain replied that a home baker could not match the scale, quality and timeliness that her team can.
And at the other end of the competitive spectrum, a traditional bakery cannot provide the level of customisation that she can.
Megna Jain speaks like a seasoned entrepreneur. She said that she believes that success is a continuous mindset. She likes talking about her journey and is eager and willing to share her story with anyone. “When you speak to people who want to start a business, I am reminded of how it felt when I started mine. I am a storyteller and I love to share my story with people, but I enjoy hearing their story and feel motivated by them, by their experiences and questions”.
She said that showing up and being consistent are the ways to get ahead and be noticed. “Be prepared to face every eventuality with a smile on your face,” she said.