A computer science engineer, Namratha Vippala felt that her love for her college subjects didn’t always allow her to be creative. Hence, she turned her passion for baking into a full-fledged company. She founded Dusk Miller Confectionery, a sustainable green-powered farmhouse bakery. Its uniqueness is that she uses solar energy, biogas, and wastewater management to run it! At her retail outlets and other points of sale, she invents new products or recreates time-honoured classics, apart from taking great care to ensure quality. In a candid chat with You & I, she tells us all about her business and shares some great baking tips, too!
What was the first thing you did after deciding to take the plunge into full-time baking?
Dusk Miller was a gradual ascent. With a love for baking and a passion for fine and fresh ingredients, we started the good, old-fashioned way. Originally, I took orders after college hours and worked from dusk to dawn (hence the name Dusk Miller). And now we are a full-time functioning bakery.We thought big, started small, and acted fast. However, there was a period when we were flooded with orders and we had to take the plunge. The first thing we decided to do then was to work on packaging and setting up a full-fledged production line.
Who inspired you to pursue baking professionally?
Who’s your target customer?
The idea behind Dusk Miller is to provide aspirational quality, accessible to everyone. With our depth and range of products, there is something for everyone. So our target market is quite diverse.
Has retailing been challenging for you?
Retailing was a dream come true. Having our products spread across the city is empowering. One of the many key requirements for retailing is communication. It starts within the business and is carried out to the customer. The first challenge is verbal communication to the retailer about the product. Then comes packaging – it’s a powerhouse in itself! Apart from protecting the product, it’s a great canvas for communication. And finally, it’s non-verbal communication. This is the feedback we receive by analysing sales.
What are your signature products, and what’s your personal favourite?
Pistachio & Orange Cookies, Chocolate Rose Cookies, Pomegranate & Macadamia Nut Cake. My personal favourites are the Classic Butter Biscuits and the Lemon Almond Madeira
Cake – both look deceptively simple but are exquisite in taste.
Please share some baking tips!
Add a little splash of raisin juice to your cakes and they will last longer.Take your desserts to the next level by seasoning them. You can use salt, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, and even chilli! Replace a third of butter with ricotta or cream cheese in your cupcake recipe for a unique, moist crumb. Dust your cake tins with cocoa instead of flour to give your cakes an intense, dark look and deep flavour.
To what do you attribute your success?
The reasons are many. Great product and design. Our team – we’re a bunch of people who are constantly learning from each other and our experiences, with one goal: a quality product. And my favourite quote, from Pietro Barilla: “Give people food that you would give your own children”.
What was your biggest fear before starting your own business?
Biscuits are an age-old, traditional product. Attempting to create these versatile products while being conscious of the environmental footprint on a small scale was nerve-wracking! We’re still getting there, taking steps forward slowly but surely.
Your elevator pitch?
A sustainable green-powered bakery with an aim to produce the best biscuits, cookies, and cakes.
Your role model?
Favourite part about being an entrepreneur?
Being able to create new products or recreate time-honoured classics.
Describe yourself in one word.