Today’s interview is a special one. I had the pleasure to speak with my cousin, baker/entrepreneur Rumaisa Palwala. Her company, “RB Cupcakes” began in 2014. She rebranded to “Sweet Impressions” after her move to Toronto in 2016. We discussed the origins of her success, influences, teamwork and how her making cupcakes played a role in her sweet happily ever after. Read more to find out the whole story.
So how did you enter the cupcake making business?
RP: “It all started back when Khala’s- oven broke down before she had to make dessert for a family function we were having. She asked me to take on the task to bake the cupcakes instead. And so I made them and jazzed them up with some decorations and everyone loved them!
My first official start with the business began when our cousin Saadia asked me to make these pull apart princess cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday party. I wanted to make them for free but she was sneaky and mailed me a check in the mail after the party.
Then my sister’s friend had a baby girl and she didn’t want to give out the typical Indian mithai (sweet). So I took the challenge to make cupcakes- leading up to my first real order of 300 cupcakes. I decorated 4 different ways and into boxes. It was crazy but when you get that positive feedback it was worth it.
From there I honed in on my skills by watching Youtube videos and taking Michael’s class to get the basics down. To be frank, Youtube is a life saver you can find anything on there.
Do you have a specific Youtube account you follow for inspiration?
“Honestly I don’t have names I could recommend. It’s when I have gotten specific designs clients ask for me to do. I look up how to execute this and most important can I execute this?”
Can you tell me of a time where you had a hardship with execution and what happened?
“Oh I have one yes, it was this shoe! A client of mine asked me to make a shoe cake for her sisters birthday. She wanted a closed toe pump but didn’t specify it had to be a closed to pump. It wasn’t working out so I changed the design to an open toe pump to make it doable. I never heard the end of it- the client called me and when on and on saying how unhappy her sister was.
What did you do to calm the client down?
“So I offered her 15% off her next order, and she did reach out to me to avail it. Unfortunately by that time I had already moved to Canada with my husband and there was no shipment process set up yet.”
Right, you’ve been in Canada for the past couple years as a newlywed, how has the business transitioned?
RP: My husband helps me out with the business aspect to it. Funny enough, before I got engaged to him, he wanted to know a little bit more about me. Unknown it was him, he called asking about placing an order for his an order of cupcakes. It was early when he called and I mistook the 514 number for a 516. I thought it was a brothers friend calling! A few days later he revealed it was him. I thought it was odd for someone that wanted to order cupcakes to ask what my life goals are…
So it’s safe to say he’s invested in your business?
“As a married couple, he’s been helping me with the business which is a big help. I guess that’s why It has taken off more than when I was doing it by myself.”
How did you get your networking done at first?
“I didn’t advertise as much, my brother helped me post flyer in BBQ night, and from word of mouth it grew. When I started my Instagram it outsourced to random people I didn’t know.
Now married, my husband thought it would be nice to change the name and rebrand, which makes sense.
So we switched from RB cupcakes to Sweet Impressions and it was not easy. Filtering different names, branding, marketing and even picking an image and a FONT. We got help to make the icon. she helped with the design and once we okayed everything I made the cards from there.”
How is clientele being in Canada?
“First, it was friends and family and then did a couple of cakes, did it for home and then Eid cakes I had a few food orders.
What’s your specialty?
“Flavor-wise most people get chocolate and vanilla, some people like the fresh fruit.”
But what all about the creative cakes you’ve done? I’ve seen through your Instagram that has Batman on it and Einstein.
Well, that’s all done on fondant. people tend to go for fondant because it decorates better. buttercream tastes better and gives it that rustic look. I can’t get buttercream to look that clean.
What was your favorite cake to do decoration wise?
RP: “Decoration wise it was this Dr. Seuss cake I made with a hat made out a cake and it came out perfect.”
Tell me about the food expo you recently did, how did you hear about it?
“Oh, it was amazing. My husband’s friend runs it and knows I made cupcakes and asked if I wanted a booth. The first year I had an invite to do it I had gotten married so I wasn’t able it was too soon. The second year I was pregnant with my baby in NY so there was no way I could have been able to. Flash forward to this year and it was perfect timing, but I was hesitant. This was different- yes I’ve made 300 cupcakes before- but this time it was a whole different experience.
So I made over 250 with three different flavors with the frosting and thought at least half would sell. To prep with networking, we reached out to food bloggers to put us on their Instagram. That way people who came to our booth knew who we are. The bloggers even came to our booth and take photos of our cupcakes. It was a great exposure.
What flavors did you make?
We made a Ferraro Roche cupcake, a cotton candy frosting with actual cotton candy on top and a strawberry cheesecake with strawberry cheesecake filling with plain buttercream with strawberry slices and graham cracker crumbles on top.
How’d they sell?
“They all sold out! It was truly fun to make and extremely tiring. the next morning we woke up early early and made a fresh batch. We came a little late, but you know it was a desi event so we were fine. I did everything live: the frost and presenting, everyone liked that concept.”
The real show stopper was the dummy cake to show the technique. It was a bridal cake on one side and Batman birthday cake themed on the opposite. I wanted to show two levels of expertise. A lot of people were asking for quotes for it and it was a big hit with the kids because of Batman.
And did you sell out the next day too?
RP: Yeah we did!
Where do you see your next steps with sweet impressions?
I definitely see us growing Inshallah. With the support of my husband we would love to see a small storefront in Toronto and Inshallah I’m sure in a few years that will happen.
This concludes the interview with Sweet Impressions. To visit view more images of her wonderful treats you can visit her instagram @sweetimpressions.rp to view content from the halal food festival and keep track of creations soon to come.
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