Be whisked away
WHAT STARTED OUT as a side venture to keep her busy while taking care of her son two years ago has turned into a sweet treat for Bareerah Nana-Patel.
The 29-year-old is owner of the cake and pastry business Upsy Daisy.
The name came from a nursery rhyme her son, now three years old, used to listen to.
“My sister suggested it as a name and I thought, ‘This sounds pretty catchy, let’s try it’. Since then, the name stuck.
“I actually didn’t intend to start a business. It was supposed to be a hobby to keep me occupied as my son played or rested. My sister suggested that I sell cakes here and there, so I put myself out there. Business started slow at first, with family and friends ordering. Then as others saw my work, and became interested, it grew into a business.”
Bareerah, who learnt the art from young, by first helping in the kitchen as was required, then assisting her mum when she baked. Then as she got older she would spend time with an aunt who also liked to bake and together they would come up with all sorts of creations.
“I realised this was my passion when I got excited and looked forward to my baking sessions and found myself checking Google for recipes and decorating techniques.”
Bareerah grew up in Peterkin Road, St Michael, with parents Mohamed Ali Nana and Khatija Nana, along with three sisters – Arifaa Bhula, Dr Fatima Nana and Aysha Bhula. She attended Westbury Primary School, St Winifred’s School, Harrison College and did her psychology degree at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.
Bareerah is self-taught in baking, doing just a beginners class to get the necessary pointers, and calls herself a “work in progress”.
“When I first started the business I baked a cake and it looked a little strange when I took it out the oven. I turned to my parents and was like, ‘Hmmm. This not looking too right, maybe we should taste it and see.’ So I cut a slice and gave to everyone to taste. The look on everyone’s face”, she said, laughing at the memory. “Let’s just say I forgot the sugar and it didn’t taste too good.”
Upsy Daisy is all about flavour, and fun designs. There are over ten flavours – some non-traditional, such as mocha, cookies n crème, mint chocolate and twinkies.
Her customers range from birthday parties, engagements, weddings and small functions.
Her specialty cake is chocolate cake with ganache and strawberries. She has collected recipes from recipe books and the Internet over the years, tweaking some to suit. A big plus for Bareerah is that she has a very large family to test these recipes on.
As a Muslim, her religion plays an important role “because I cannot use certain ingredients such as animal products and alcohol although I know Bajans love a great cake for Christmas”.
Bareerah’s day starts at 8 a.m, and her first checked item on her list is to get all of the cake orders for the day baked. While the cakes are baking, the prep for the decorating begins, such as making the buttercream, whipped cream or fondant. Once all of the cakes are cooled, the decorating begins. The timing for this depends largely on the design of the specific cake.
Her typical day finishes at 4 p.m. after all of the cakes are decorated [which she does by hand] and boxed and ready to go.
“The plus side to a home bakery is that I have my own space and pace and I still get to spend time with my family while working. The downside is getting everything done by myself,” she said, chuckling.
Bareerah’s favourite sweet treat is her best selling item: chocolate cake, topped with Belgian chocolate ganache and then drizzled with chocolate sauce.
“My one go-to ingredient is vanilla essence. Whatever I make, I must add vanilla to it, even if the recipe doesn’t state it. I attribute this to my mum who insisted vanilla essence be in everything she baked.”
Her favourite cake to make though was a two tiered Mario kart cake.
“This was a hand-carved spiral cake resembling a track on a hill. It was fun to make since it brought back childhood memories of playing Super Mario with my cousin. The end result was amazing. The client was ecstatic,” she gushed.
Bareerah has learnt important lessons since becoming an entrepreneur: “I learnt that without hard work and dedication, you cannot get anywhere in life. Once you have a knack for something, with the proper motivation, you can foster that talent.”
She advises women who want to start their own businesses to “go for it”.
“If you have a passion for something and want to start a business, go ahead and start it. Don’t let anything hold you back. Believe in yourself and take that first step to owning your own company. It won’t be easy, but I guarantee it will all be worth it.”