We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Ramchandani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have my degree in the medical field and absolutely loved what I was doing. After working in that field for almost nine years, I made the switch to be a stay-at-home mother to our two children. That was a more challenging transition than I originally expected because I felt as though I had lost a piece of what defined my identity. A few months of staying home and caring for our newborn son full time, the importance and gratification in my new role became clearer. Fast forward five years and he is now in school full time while our daughter is participating in athletics. So, I began to ask myself, what should I do now?
As much as I wanted to go back into the medical field, to what I loved and knew, there were so many things that changed for me. Part of me wanted to further my education within the medical field, but the amount of time it would take away from my family and the flexibility of being there for them wasn’t worth the trade off in the event something needed attention at a moment’s notice. I needed and craved a creative outlet for sanity, so I began baking! That allowed me to dictate my work hours and give me the flexibility I now needed and wanted to still have a work/home life balance.
My business started out very organically by initially baking for holiday get-togethers and that eventually graduated to baking for family member birthdays. They provided lots of great feedback and everyone kept telling me I should start selling my cakes. I loved the challenge and having that creative outlet drove me to turn my cake visions into reality. My husband and I planned out the menu, did the cost analysis of every offering, and I began advertising. By leveraging every avenue I could think of, I started letting anyone and everyone know that I was open for business. My friends, family, and church congregation all helped too and for that I am truly grateful.
In the first two years of operations, there have been weeks that have gone by without getting an order, but I took that down time to work on new skills and techniques. I even found a way to further my education and passion by taking any online classes on things I wanted to perfect. That has translated into a full-time baking schedule that can be overwhelming at times. I am proud to say that I am a 100% self-taught baker. Everyday I’m learning new things about my business, myself and it has been an amazing journey so far!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe what sets me apart from other bakers is that I listen to my customers in every detail of what they specifically want out of their creation. The best feedback you can receive is from your customers. I flavor my desserts in a way that it transforms the dessert you’re eating into the star and hopefully the most memorable part of your occasion.
I like to take risks. In my profession, it is interesting in the sense that you want to be unique in providing amazing flavors for customers that set you apart in some way. Every single time I put out a product, I have to find a balance between bold flavors and subtlety while still knowing that it may not appeal to everyone. Everyone’s tastes are vastly different so finding the right harmony is always a challenge.
When I introduce a new item onto my menu, I have to spend hours researching the best approach to making it perfect and consistently reproducible. The most important factor is consistency. We all know what it is like to eat something so mind blowing that you start craving it again another day only to get a second time and it falls short. I refuse to do that! Before I put out any treats, I nail my processes down to make sure it tastes the same without fail. I don’t want to just blow your mind with flavors once, I want to do it every time! All of that effort while still knowing that there is a possibility that there may not be much overall interest in it. I have to take that risk because how else will I know if something is a hit if I don’t try? Worst case, if it doesn’t sell then it doesn’t sell, but I will have hopefully learned some new techniques or takeaways in the process for the next creation.
For the future of Batch! Please Bakery, I’m most excited to see how I can grow this business. Whether I stay working out of my home or I scale it into a storefront. This whole process hasn’t been easy. I started in late 2019 and then BAM! COVID. I didn’t work for months. That was tough, but like everyone, I did what I do best which is research and learn. I watched, practiced, and got numerous insights from my favorite celebrity baker, Liz Marek, with the Sugar Geek Show and Joseph Thee Baker and Sugar Grace Cake Pops on social media. They have lots of great tried and true demos online on many things and are amazing bakers. I honed in on my skills of making Macarons (one of the most difficult things to get right) with the help of Michelle’s Macarons. If it doesn’t challenge you, you’ll never excel. I want to excel!
In hindsight, if I never took the risk of committing to being a stay-at-home mom and leaving my previous profession, I would have never opened my eyes to the possibility of being a small business home baker. I also would have missed out on the chance to see my kids grow up and flourish. That one “roll of the dice” changed my life and has allowed me to do what I love.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Houston is so diverse that I could honestly say a few places now and remember so many others later on! Some of the awesome places I love to frequent just depends on the mood I’m feeling. For some amazing Salvadorian food, (because I’m half Salvadorian), I would highly recommend El Amanecer. Everything is freshly made, from the soups to the pupusas, and the tortillas used in every dish. If you’re in the mood for some Caribbean food (because I’m half Saint Lucian) you cannot go wrong with Cool Runnings! OMG, it’s so good! Get the Curried Goat or the Jerk Chicken, you’ll thank me later! An amazing Thai restaurant that we frequent in Cypress is Up Thai Kitchen. The food is consistently amazing. Another restaurant that will transport your taste buds to another part of the world AND is 100% authentic Indo-Pakistani cuisine is Aga’s in Sugar Park Plaza. I can rave about this place all day so I definitely recommend you try it for yourself. If you’re looking to just hang out in a great area to grab a drink, shop, or dine then try the Towne Lake boardwalk out in the suburbs of Houston in Cypress. There are lots of mom and pop shops right on the lake and many places to dine as well.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would say that the most important factor behind my success would be my husband Abhi. He has been helping through this whole process. He is my financial advisor, my private investor, my shoulder to cry on, my cheerleader, my soundboard, my voice of reason when I go overboard, and quality control (by choice) on new items/flavors. HE is the reason I am able to do what I do.
My family and community have also played a huge part in my success so far. They helped spread the word for my business and bought from me before knowing what I was truly capable of. Now they know what they will get from me every single time because I refuse to let them down. I am fortunate to have so many repeat customers and that just means the world to me. Without them, I couldn’t do what I do so I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for allowing my job to be my passion.
Other: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org