Imphal: Amid the harsh situation due to the long-drawn pandemic, this woman entrepreneur from Manipur is not only thriving her baking business but also adding sweetness to many young women’s lives belonging to the marginalised community.
Meet Elizabeth Meitram, the proprietor of Elle’s Cakes & Bakes and whose work is best known for her signature whipped cream icing cake in the state. As claimed by her, she was the first person who introduced the whipped icing for cakes in Manipur and so far, well received by her customers.
This interior designer-turned-baker, Elizabeth opened her first food store under the brand name Elle’s Bakes & Cakes in 2010 in Imphal, and became the pioneer in bakery-with-cafe concept in Manipur.
However, her baking career has a humble beginning.
“I started my baking career working out of home as a hobby; I would bake birthday cakes for family and friends as early as 2000. But I started doing it on a regular basis after my marriage in 2006. Soon, people in my locality and beyond came to know about it and they would request me to bake for birthdays. I had then started taking orders even for weddings for friends and acquaintances,” said Elizabeth.
“As I had to be financially independent and sound, I tried my hands on several other ventures, which unfortunately didn’t do too well. That was before plunging into bakery venture. Even the initial days of the bakery were full of tension with lots of hit and trial methods,” she recalled.
Prior to starting her bakery, she was also into dry flower business. She used to make decorative pieces and bouquets with locally available dry herbs and grasses.
This woman entrepreneur and mother of two kids has now become a sunbeam for many young girls and women belonging to the marginalized section of the society, who were poor or jobless, or had very low employability skills.
At present, the staff count is over 70, mostly young girls, working at five different major stores in Imphal.
Elle’s Bakes & Cakes is also known for their exclusive vegetarian offerings, that feature an extensive selection of egg-free bakes and cakes, to cater to the vegetarian crowd.
“Training them in-house to be ready for the job that produces quality products with a lot of modern designs was itself a very daunting task. However, with their sincerity and hard work, eventually, they all became good assets for the company,” said Elizabeth.
To propagate women empowerment, Elizabeth also informed that her food venture tried to maintain the women workforce at above 80% of the total workforce at any given time.
“Working with them, understanding their difficulties, and seeing the way they have come up in life, we decided to set the company’s vision as a venture focussed on empowering women, whereby creating a platform to further their spiritual, economic and social state,” added Elizabeth.
Apart from cakes, Elle’s Bakes & Cakes has a full-fledged bakery with numerous items, and also diversified into other segments. Natural ice cream is one of their highlights. The entrepreneur has also introduced an Indian traditional sweets segment to cater to weddings, corporate, religious, and other special occasions.
“Going forward, we plan to take full advantage of the hospitality and tourism industry, right from the chain of stores for bakery, ice cream, and fusion restaurant, and expand it using the franchisee model. We have also started doing the groundwork for hotel and resorts projects in the hospitality sector,” said Elizabeth.
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