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The married duo and co-owners of The Little Baker, Anen Imti and Benry Kikon runs a one of its kind store which deals exclusively with baking supplies, tools, ingredients and other bake ware products. Being the “first store in Nagaland that exclusively deals only with baking supplies and bake ware,” makes The Little Baker special and notable.
Anen acquired her culinary Post Graduate Diploma from the International Institute of Culinary Arts (IICA), New Delhi and completed training from The Imperial, New Delhi and even secured a job at the LaLit Golf and Spa Resort, Goa. She moved back to Dimapur and worked at Niathu bakery as a pastry chef for almost four years. To add to her accolades, she is one of the most well-known and successful home-based bakers with an astounding number of orders for birthday parties and weddings from all across Nagaland.
With the venture of The Little Baker, she turned the drawback of lack of availability of bake ware supply store in Nagaland into her advantage. “We primarily supply to bakeries and home bakers, we do both wholesale and retail business and we are distributors of a few brands, and as of now we are the sole distributors for the entire state of Nagaland,” says the artistic baker.
She quickly adds, “The main idea behind the store was to have an easy access to tools and ingredients for the bakers, where they can purchase the products needed to make a cake without having to order online and wait for the products to arrive. Initially, our target was for the Dimapur consumers but now we are delivering to Kohima, Mokokchung, and even to Manipur from this month.”
“The model we desire for our store is to be a sub-dealer. What we are planning to do is supply our products to the already established stores in Dimapur, Kohima, and Mokokchung. We have started supplying to some of the stores in town area at a wholesale rate, and we plan to do the same in Kohima and Mokokchung as well,” Benry said while giving more details.
Talking about challenges, Benry said, “We want all solutions available for bakers under one roof but we invested only what we could. We started with the non-edible tools and within a month we added edible ingredients… now we are adding the frozen products and equipment like the mixers.” The main challenges, the Baker couple states are the “financial challenges, size of the market and the taxes by the Naga Political groups.”
“Connectivity and electricity problems indirectly affects us since our supplies come from outside but due to bad roads the orders get delayed,” added Benry.
The products in the store are sourced from across India, Kolkata, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, and Guwahati. Wherever they get the good deals, the duo tries to cut down as many middlemen as possible with intend to give better deal to their customers.
Benry admits that Instagram has connected them to people in groundbreaking ways and received a large number of orders and also promoted #BakeInNagaland to encourage aspiring bakers in Nagaland. He further states, “Although it is a small group of followers, we update new products added to the store and upload baked products to display the ingredients used and since we upload finished products, sometimes we get cake orders thinking it is a bakery.”
Sharing about the secrets of their flourishing venture, Benry states, “It is all about passion and execution… everyone has great ideas but what matters is putting your dreams and ideas into action. No matter how small your dreams or ambitions are, you got to start working on it6. As a couple, we are each other’s support.” Anen also adds, “You also have to be hands-on with your business. The problem with us is when we start a business we leave it to the salesperson and after a while you are bored or no longer motivated. Be passionate and take ownership, you have to be responsible and accept the consequences”.
“For baking, you should have the heart for it. If you follow the recipe step by step, it is not very hard to achieve. To be a professional baker, it takes a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. But being passionate matters the most,” Anen sums up.
Talking about the prospect of industry in Nagaland, Benry says, “We need to encourage local entrepreneurs. Although the challenge remains that products cost higher in Nagaland.” He also said that there needs to be change in the misconception that a shop run by the local people is more expensive. “With some of the well-established stores in Dimapur, some of the products are more expensive compared to our store but people think that everything cost cheaper at the stores run by non-locals. The approach people have towards businesses owned by our own people is that since it is opened by a Naga everything will be more expensive,” Anen also lamented.
The Little Baker store is located at 4th mile next to US Pizza, near Agri Expo, Diphupar, Dimapur. Interested readers can follow ‘The Little Baker’ on Instagram @thelittlebaker.in
Rongseninla Walling, a post graduate in the Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing, YMCA New Delhi is currently an intern in The Morung Express.