A UTD student utilizes her talent for baking to run a personal baking business.
Neuroscience sophomore Devi Nair has been baking since she was a toddler. Now, as the oldest of her nine cousins, she often bakes with her younger cousins when they get together. Recently, Nair has been putting her talent to work in order to raise money for UTD’s Indian Cultural Association and to start her own business.
Nair started her baking business in summer 2017, when she was asked to bake a cake for Southlake Plastic Surgery. Nair said that creating her business, Devi Cakes, was intimidating at first because she started it entirely on social media.
“I had no idea what people would think, and was worried I’d get made fun of for having a separate account just for baking,” Nair said. “But once it got started, everyone was super encouraging.”
She also uses her talent to fundraise for the ICA. The organization hosts Aaja Nachle, a collegiate Bollywood-fusion dance competition, and Nair has made various baked goods, such as Bundt cakes, cheesecakes and brownies to raise money to prepare for the national event.
Because she is a pre-med student before a baker, Nair does not take more than two orders per week, and her friends have helped her with baking during the times she needed extra sets of hands.
“There have been nights when my friends have been at my apartment until 3 o’clock in the morning helping me bake for mass orders,” Nair said. “They help me out so much.”
Nair’s baking business is growing through word-of-mouth and social media presence. She receives requests from friends, and often their family members to bake for birthdays, anniversaries and parties. She said she has recently been asked to make a wedding cake and is excited.
“My dad is in the field of business, and he’s like, ‘Wow, look at you!’” Nair said. “I guess he likes that I’m kind of following in his footsteps and kind of my mom’s, because my mom is a doctor.”
Cakes from Devi Cakes range from $30 to $60, and a dozen cupcakes sell for about $15, depending on how labor-intensive and time consuming it is for her to perfect the decoration details. Customers call her or message her via social media or text to leave specific requests for their cakes.
Though creating cakes from start to finish can take several hours, Nair said she enjoys the whole process. She said the two aspects of baking — baking and decoration — come natural to her, as she had always had a knack for baking and a love for art. She credits the popularity of her cakes to her art skills, because each cake she makes is decorated differently.
“I’ve always been really into painting and drawing,” she said. “In my mind, a cake is just another canvas.”
Nair said her most memorable bake was a cake that she prepared for her friends’ joint 21st birthday. She spent four hours creating a cake with eight different types of chocolate so her friends could be “chocolate-wasted.” She said she continues her passion for baking, even with a busy schedule of classes and extracurricular activities because she knows people will like what she bakes.
“Honestly, making people happy is my favorite part of (baking),” Nair said. “If I know that I can make what they want and if I know that it’ll make them happy, I always go, ‘Why not?’”
Nair said she hopes to continue baking in the future, though medical school will probably not leave her with as much time to do what she loves. She said she has dreamed of opening a bakery since she was a little kid and hopes to achieve that dream.
“I told my parents when I was 10 that I wanted to be a part-time baker and a part-time doctor, which I realize now, isn’t going to be the case,” Nair said. “But once things settle down a little bit after medical school and everything, I would love to make this into an actual store.”