Meet Ashwini Sarabhai, a talented and award-winning cake artist with a passion for decorating and creating beautiful cakes. With years of experience in the industry, she has honed her skills in various techniques such as sugar craft to create unique and intricate realistic-looking sugar flower designs on cakes. From elegant cakes to fun and whimsical ones, Ashwini can bring any design idea to life with her creativity and attention to detail. She is the name behind The Dream Cakes.
SheSight had the pleasure of interviewing the lady herself, who has garnered a reputation for her exceptional attention to detail and artistic flair. Here is the excerpt from the interview by Dr. Sailaja:
Dr. Sailaja: It is not easy to be an entrepreneur. What keeps you motivated?
Ashwini: It’s not easy. But yes, what keeps me motivated is my art. I love working on anything that is related to art, and the appreciation that I get from my family, friends, and followers keeps me going. There are students also who want to learn and many times I keep coming up with different things only for my students since they want to learn something new.
Dr. Sailaja: Fantastic! And how many followers do you have on your social media handles?
Ashwini: Facebook around 23 K; Instagram around say 6000.
Dr. Sailaja: I read on one of your web pages that you had won the runner’s up in the Student’s wedding cake competition way back in 2006 at the French Pastry school in Chicago. How did that pave the way for you?
Ashwini: It was a big confidence booster. I started this thing just as a hobby and never had it in mind that I could take it up as a profession. Winning that one competition gave me a big boost. That’s when it struck me that I could do it too!
Dr. Sailaja: Do you have franchises here in India?
Ashwini: I don’t have a franchise in India. I am a one-man show here.
Dr. Sailaja: Wonderful! How big is your team at The Dream Cakes there in the US?
Ashwini: Out here in the US, I don’t have a team working on the cakes. But yes, I do have folks working on different aspects of the business – so, 4 or 5 people.
Dr. Sailaja: How long have you been in cake art, Ashwini?
Ashwini: 15-16 years. I started learning way back in 2004 and then in 2006-2007. That’s when the entire thing started taking shape. It’s been quite a journey I would say, not easy but fun-filled.
Dr. Sailaja: As a woman entrepreneur, you faced some tough times as well. Could you elaborate a little on this?
Ashwini: As a woman entrepreneur, there are many things that a lady has to take care of. You have to take care of the kids, of the people working with you, and picking up raw ingredients from nooks and corners, that’s quite a juggle. You have to keep juggling around with different roles as an entrepreneur, an artist, a wife, a daughter, a mother, everything.
Dr. Sailaja: What’s your message to budding women entrepreneurs?
Ashwini: Learn your art well and keep on practicing. Don’t give up. And if you fail anywhere, take it as a good thing because that is going to be your road to success. You learn much more when you fail. So, celebrate your failures also, and celebrate your success as well.
Dr. Sailaja: Did you ever feel Ashwini that this is tough, so let me go back to a full-time job?
Ashwini: I won’t lie here. Yes, it has happened a couple of times because this is not only about baking, not about making sugar flowers, there are a whole lot of things involved. Right from finances, to managing social media to managing the calls that you get from your clients or students, filing your taxes, everything comes into play. From how to source the material, how to sell it, and how to pack it! That probably is just about say 30-40% of it, everything else takes up a lot of space over there as well. I won’t lie, I do get that feeling – just leave it.
Dr. Sailaja: How long does it take for you to work on an order?
Ashwini: I always suggest that a minimum of 2-3 weeks you need to give so that I can really do justice to your cake and set aside the time for you.
Dr. Sailaja: Tell us about your online academy.
Ashwini: I have these classes for around 2 or 3 hrs class through Zoom meetings. I have Zoom calls with my students. There are some classes where I demonstrate while teaching. They can ask questions while they are watching. Some classes go on for 2-3 days also, which will be around 6-7 hrs per day where the students would also be working along with me.
Dr. Sailaja: How do you get all the ingredients for your sugar flowers, Ashwini?
Ashwini: From different stores, from different manufacturers. Way back when I started 15-16 years ago, it was quite a challenge. Especially in India, there was hardly any awareness of cakes, so the materials or ingredients that we would get also were very limited. We had to make it on our own and people didn’t know what it was. In the US, you get different types of flour, like you get cake flour, bread flour, you get pastry flour, and different types. In India, you get them in select places, but not easily available.
Dr. Sailaja: Tell us about your experience of winning the Cake Oscars.
Ashwini: Honestly, I couldn’t believe it was happening. When they called out my name, I was like really? Is it my name? It was exciting and overwhelming I would say.
Dr. Sailaja: I saw the pictures where you were receiving it. Must be a great feeling. We are all proud that you worked hard and then you achieved it. So, my last question to you is, what is the secret of your success story?
Ashwini: I think patience, practice, and perseverance. That’s something that I believe in. And of course, my family. I am blessed to have fantastic support from my family. I have always come across very good people. Yes, you have all kinds of experiences in life, but those experiences are what made me stronger. So, that probably is the secret to my success, apart from of course my passion and work.
Dr. Sailaja: Your hard work definitely, but I think the 3 Ps that you mentioned – patience, perseverance, and of course without practice you know we can’t achieve anything.
People who want to start something on their own will be inspired by your story. Look forward to seeing many more laurels coming your way. Thank you very much.
Ashwini: Thank you so much.
Dr. Sailaja hails from Hyderabad, India, and is a seasoned HR Leader, Guest Speaker, and Sustainable Practices enthusiast