The owner of SugarRush Cupcakery and The Kitchen Studio, Fareeha Chowdhury, sat down to have a chat with us on how she turned her hobby of baking into a full-fledged profession. Here is her story:
Fareeha Chowdhury grew up learning how to bake with her mother and sister – her little experiments with her microwave oven made her realize that she was very much passionate about pastry-making. Even though her little hobby caused her to very nearly burn down her house once, Fareeha decided that she wanted to pursue a career in the culinary field. Despite being born in Thailand, Fareeha was brought up in Bangladesh, where she and her family moved to when she was only two years. She spent her schooling years in Scholastica, and later moved to the States to receive her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland – College Park. Her love of making sweet treats led her to enroll in the International Culinary Centre, formerly known as the French Culinary Institute in Soho, Manhattan after her undergrad and that's where she was trained in pastry-techniques.
After completing her training, Fareeha moved back to Bangladesh and took it upon herself to open a cupcake business in Dhaka, naming it SugarRush Cupcakery. The initiative was started based on minimizing wastage and producing high-quality desserts that tasted like they were made at home. Her business grew slowly, capturing a niche market and this growth led Fareeha to later shift her production process from her home to a new facility from where she currently operates. She currently has a team of six employees who work around the clock to meet the daily orders.
After increasing her employee count, Fareeha found that she had some spare time in her hands so she joined Cold Stone Creamery's corporate sector as an Operations Specialist. There she gained much insight regarding the business in corporate sales and Franchise food industries. Moreover, Fareeha has also worked as a consulting agent for her gym's café(Aamra Active) and has helped in setting its menu and training its chef. She is also a former working partner for Tehari on Wheels, and has collaborated with Bongo BOOM in hosting several baking tutorial videos. However, as of right now, Fareeha is busy focusing on her newest venture – The Kitchen Studio – where she teaches the art of cooking and baking to people of all ages and sexes. In an attempt to make preparing food a fun experience, Fareeha has also introduced programs such as ‘Mommy and Me' and ‘Date Nights' classes in which she trains mother-child duos and couples.
When asked about the challenges that she has faced in her business so far, Fareeha mentioned that the price of the products that she sells predominantly determines the demand for her products. The goods at Sugar Rush are indeed sold at a higher price range than most domestic bakeries, but that is only due to the care, love, and pricy foreign ingredients that go into making them. Also, after past failures, Fareeha has now understood that for the particular type of food business that she runs, a physical store or an online platform is very much required – small booths opened in corners of other establishments often tend to be overlooked by customers. Additionally, other businesses often tend to replicate Sugar Rush's creative dessert ideas, but Fareeha takes it all in stride.
"When others copy my style, I take it as a compliment," she commented.
In the past, Sugar Rush has come up with trendy and creative dessert options, such as their Ramadan hit, Rooh Afza cupcake, or the cupcakes they styled for a bridal shower which were made entirely of ‘Gajor er Halwa' frosting. Being open to new flavors and tastes, Fareeha tries to be experimental with her products and tries to incorporate Bengali flavors in them. She feels like there is not enough variety when it comes to desserts in Bangladesh, and wants to branch out and mix western cuisines to ours to create more sensational and unique desserts. Fareeha also has plans to pen her own book one day which will be filled with 20 of her favorite dessert recipes gathered from all regions of the world and inspired by her travels. Additionally, she hopes to open a new pop-up store for Sugar Rush soon. She also has plans to enter the restaurant business in Dhaka, with her soon-to-be husband, Shahrukh Hossain, as her partner.
Fareeha found her fiancé through Tinder – a fact she is very open about, despite the stigmas surrounding online dating platforms. He was her first tinder date and they've been dating for 3 years now and are very excited to be tying the knot later this year. She quipped -"The main thing you have to keep in mind is that you are in control, there might be 10,000 left swipes, but there's one out there who deserves the right, and that decision is all your choice"
Having a supportive family has helped Fareeha a lot in achieving success as a budding entrepreneur. While she understands that not every person with a start-up can be as blessed as she was, she still advices entrepreneurs to persevere, because, according to her, there is nothing like earning your own money.
"If you have a plan, go ahead and apply it. Try to be different. Work with the constructive criticism you receive. But most importantly, always trust yourself," Fareeha advised.