An entrepreneur’s dream brewed with a passion for cooking, Desserted was founded when Swetha Kurada decided to believe in herself and to just go for it.
by Aisiri Amin
The artsy house café is meant for those who love to lose themselves in conversations and some good food. As you enter the French coffee shop and patisserie, the smell of fresh bread wraps around you like a warm blanket on a rainy day. Fairy lights, paintings and plants give you a homely feel. For the love of baking and her dream to reach out to people, Swetha Kurada founded Desserted in 2013.
Located in the heart of Bangalore, India, the café has come a long way since then with plenty of regular customers to boast about. Kurada did her graduation in business and worked in marketing but there was always something missing. Lack of job satisfaction and a craving to do something more gave her the much needed push to take the leap of faith with Desserted.
“I always had an inclination towards baking. I love creating something new, experimenting with ingredients and playing with taste buds. So, when I decided to start something on my own, I knew it wasn’t in finance or marketing. It had to be something that didn’t feel like work, something that organically came to me. Something that made me happy. I knew that that was baking.”
Kurada always wanted to have more control over her life, work towards something she completely believed in. She had plans of her own which came to life with her café.
“I have always wanted to create jobs. I wanted to start a venture that could give employment to people. That dream came true with Desserted. I take care of the people and their families who work here and they are dedicated as well which is most important for any business.”
Right in front of a popular college, Desserted has nailed the location advantage. Students folk through the patisserie throughout the week.
“We got lucky with the location. There are around 5,000 students graduating every year from the college opposite who went on to tell others about Desserted and word spread. Fortunately for us, we have been making profits since day one.”
Even with so many young people around, surprisingly the clientele is a balanced mix of different age groups. As you look around the café, you will find twenty somethings engrossed in deep conversation, some thirty somethings lazing around and some fifty somethings excitedly narrating incidents. With no background music, the only sound you hear is the comforting sound of cutlery and conversations.
“That was our aim; to reach out to as many people as possible. If you come in weekdays the crowd is very different from weekends. People just come and laze here sometimes which is really nice.”
Another thing that has made Desserted a go-to café is the menu. Diverse and inviting, Kurada believes that the key is to keep surprising her customers.
“Change should be a constant thing when managing a café. Your regular customers shouldn’t get bored. I keep revamping the menu every now and then. It’s also very experimental. You never know what would click and what wouldn’t.”
She further explains, “We started with French food. But that was a big challenge as I am a vegetarian and many chefs had a problem with working with beef and pork. So, that was a big challenge because we couldn’t do many recipes. Then we added Indian cuisine to our menu. So, now we have a mix. Next it might be Lebanese. You never know what will work.”
Apart from the menu there are a number of things that makes a café work. The ambiance, the staff and the location. Kurada says that “it’s also about creating a niche for yourself, making your café worthy of coming back to.”
One of the biggest challenges one might face while starting their own café or restaurant is employee retention. “The biggest threat you will face is your employees leaving you because they think you don’t know anything. It always helps if you or a partner is well versed with kitchen.”
It also helps if the customer is involved and is able to form a bond with the café. “Today everybody knows how to make everything,” she says. “I get a lot of recipes from the customers. It’s just that they don’t have time to make it, they have other priorities in life which is where I come in and make it for them. I have a lot of vegan customers who come and tell me this is exactly how I want it so I make it and give it to them so they know it’s fresh.”
Looking into the future Kurada has some exciting ideas for Desserted. “I want to start farm-to-table in the next year or two which is basically farming your own food. I don’t know when I will have enough money to start that but I really want to do this so I’m looking for a way to fund it.”
That’s the thing. Getting started is the tough part but once you do, you will know the next step. For all those dreamers who are waiting for either money or time to start a café or their own business, Kurada says: “Just do it. Everyone will tell you it’s so difficult or it’s too risky but don’t listen to them, listen to yourself. If you are sure about it, you will make it work. This has been a beautiful experience for me. And I wouldn’t get tired from this life ever.”
“Building trust is important, believing in yourself is more important. Pick a good location, work on your ideas and just get started.”
Aisiri Amin is a journalist specialising in social justice, gender issues and culture. She has written for The Hindu and works as a freelance writer. Social wallflower and an idealist at the core, she lives on books, tea and hope (in that particular order).