Baker using social media sells like hot cakes

If you ever thought the only way to pursue your passion for baking is by opening a bakery café, think again.

Sonam Choden, 25 from Wangdue, started a home-based bakery last year.  She has by now built a career through social media centred around her love of baking. With social media, she has a platform to do what she loves and to make a career out of it.

“I reach out to the people or customers through my Instagram and Facebook pages,” she said.

She said that social media can be a great place to sell products or build up followers so that they can recommend their friends, family and relatives to buy one’s goods.

Sonam Choden’s interest in baking was sparked off by watching YouTube videos.

“I note recipes I see in these videos and try them out when I get the time,” she said.

However Sonam Choden never had a plan to start a bakery until she graduated from her undergrad college-Bongdey Institute of Hotel and Tourism in Paro.

“The training opportunity came very suddenly and I took it without giving it much thought. When the training got over, I actually thought I could start a business with what I had learned,” said Sonam Choden who graduated with Bachelors in Business Administration from ICFAI University (Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of Indian University) in Sikkim.

She started with baking simple cakes and pizzas but now she can bake cakes, muffins, cupcakes and pastries.

Although her home-based bakery called the Rolling Pin produces the standard range of birthday cakes, pastries, pizza, burgers and sandwiches, what sets Rolling Pin apart is the additional, continuous production of new homemade products such as the spicy emadatshi tart, mushroom datshi tart among others that are well-suited to the Bhutanese palette.

She uses social media as a platform to engage with potential clients and she she sees a lot of opportunity on social media to promote her services.

“I advertise my business and products on social media. Instagram is by far the most helpful tool I use to spread the word about my business to people,” she said.

She added that she is very active on social media. “I put pictures of my bakes everyday on Instagram. I think, for any business, using social media is a very strategic idea now that almost 80% of the Bhutanese population use Facebook and Instagram.”

Sonam Choden said that when you invest into something that you are very passionate about, seeing it grow in front of your eyes is definitely a high point.

“When I started my business, I’ll be honest here, there were times when I doubted if anyone would even be interested in what I had to offer, but seeing it now and knowing how far I have come is a very satisfying feeling.”

Although she is happy with her work, she said challenges she faced as a baker is not been able to have all the baking equipment.

“I think many bakers will agree with me when I say that not all the equipment we need are available in Bhutan. I get the help from my cousins and other relatives who are outside to get these equipment,” she said.

The Loden Foundation has agreed to fund her business with a total amount of Nu 6,50,000. So far, she has availed collateral-free loan of Nu 3,50,000 as financial help from the Foundation.

“This fund has been immensely helpful. I have managed to buy equipment that I did not previously have,” she said.

Though social media gives her the platform to sell her goods she dreams of expanding her home based business into a café.

“I think having a café in town would increase the span of my business but because I work from home I can only cater to orders my customers place online,” she said.

According to her, for people to have successful businesses, or to be successful in anything, they will have to do what they love, persist through failures and have the drive to do something.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of doing what you love and loving what you do. Whether or not you want to do the job makes all the difference in whether or not you succeed in doing the job. It’s like how they say, ‘If you do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,’” she said.

Pema Seldon from Thimphu