Manika is an 18-year-old young baker trying to make her name in the culinary world. A master baker, she has used her skills spectacularly in making masterful art out of confectionery, from the age of 15. Her work has established her demand, founding her brand of cake sprinkles, sprinklemixx. She is also the owner and admin of LittleMixx.
Take a look at what the young master baker had to say about her journey in the culinary arts!
Questions and answers
How did you come up with the name “Little Mixx”?
The actual name was supposed to be Petite Mixx where petite is the French word for little. Everyone used to call me the little girl who bakes, so that’s how it turned into ‘Little Mixx’. Mixx because baking is mixing up a lot of ingredients. That’s how I came up with the name.
What according to you are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur at such a young age?
I feel like having a business at any age can have its pros and cons. for me, there were a lot of advantages like I had an early start to what I wanted to do in life. That early start gave me enough time to keep in mind that this is what I want to do in life. Another thing was that in a way, the value of a person increases when they have had a lot of experiences at a very young age. You get to know how much you are capable of. It adds up in your resume, like a feather added to your hat. There are cons as well; balancing your school life with work was one of the main challenges. You also miss out on certain things like there were certain functions I wanted to take part in, but I had client’s orders, so I had to miss those school experiences. I started taking orders when I was 15. I was very young, and there were so many things I didn’t know. So I made a lot of mistakes, but I feel like that’s a learning process and you learn along the way.
In one of your interviews, you said that “every flavour is your own”. Can you tell us a little bit about your experimentation process?
The interview that I gave was three years ago when I did the Grub fest. Before that, I have done a lot of experimenting, and I still do when I get time. While experimenting, I have a lot of waste because I never know how the dish will turn out in practicality. I write everything down, and I think of it in theory, and then I try it out, so there’s a lot of waste. But one never knows how something will turn out until one tries, so that is how I come up with new weird but tasty combinations.
In the six years of running your business, you must have faced some challenges and hardships along the way. Can you talk about those challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Yes, of course. Everyone faces challenges and hardships when they are running a business. Like many, so did I meet a lot of challenges. I didn’t know how to balance my time. I didn’t know how to deliver. I didn’t know how to say no to orders when there’s something that I couldn’t do. I just used to push myself a lot, and in the end, I used to figure out a way to giving what they are asking. But that would mean me staying up for more than two nights in a row and fulfilling the order. When one is running a business one has to learn to place oneself first. One of the most challenging things for me was and still is for me is balancing my work and life. It’s not like your morning to an evening job, and I’m not working for someone else. There are times when I get a DM at one, and I’m replying by three in the morning finalising the cake that needs to be delivered in the afternoon. I don’t get to sleep sometimes so finding that balance has been challenging, and I still work on finding a solution.
Can you narrate your experience on Masterchef Junior?
So I think Masterchef junior gave me one of those kick-starts in my life. I went when I was around 12 or 13. There were seven rounds on the first day. I remember I was travelling with my family and I had come back late in the morning. It was for preparing a dish, and then I just went straight for the auditions. After that, I had seven rounds. And after a few weeks, there was another round, and I cleared all those. There were around 80,000 kids to start with, and they jotted it down to 8000 or so. It showed me that I don’t know that much. It pushed me to learn more, and I had to come back after the first episode.
Honesty and passion are two essential virtues for you. How do you think having these two qualities within yourself has helped you achieve such success in your life?
I feel like finding your passion in life; finding something that you love is the key to your successful experience. It drives your day in and out, helps you find that fuel that never really runs out. When you are passionate, you’re automatically very honest to yourself because you are putting that honesty in your work. Till then, you’re not real to yourself. How can you be open to the world because you come first and world second? For me, it was essential to be passionate as I was going to school when I was working on the little mixx. Even right now with how times are changing, this passion has helped me to cope up with the uncertainty of things. I think being passionate is essential, and if you find something you are passionate about, then you should not let it go.
When did you become interested in climate change, and how do you think you can contribute to it in the future?
Climate change has always been at the back of my mind as one doesn’t only read about it, but it’s everywhere. You see it every single day, maybe in your Instagram feeds if not in the newspaper. My friend and I were asked to make a movie in a competition, and I think that’s when my journey started towards this colossal thing. We showed that movie to the whole school, and my principal switched out thermocol, plastic or paper or other compostable items. That led us, if you take a tiny step towards establishing people how it is affecting our planet, people will listen. I think with the virtual world; you have to find new and creative ways to showcase problems that we face these days. I believe climate change is the most significant thing now— you can see what’s happening in California and Australia with the forest fires. Everything is related to climate. So yes, we should work on it. I try to contribute in my little ways. Even now, not waiting for the future, I donate a part of my monthly earnings to climate change organisations like Sadhguru’s organisation, and I ask people that if they do know of something related to climate change then do let me know.
Though the year 2020 didn’t go quite according to what you had planned of preparing to start a studio yet you pulled up a collection of unique cakes in the lockdown. Do you think the lockdown had affected you positively by pulling the most creative side of you out?
2020 was not supposed to go this way for me. I was supposed to go to college and learn which I haven’t till now. It did help bring out the most creative side of me because previously, I always had school. I couldn’t focus mostly on little mixx. I started delivering from, as soon as the first lockdown got over, with full care and precautions for sure. But people began ordering challenging cakes, and I figured it out in my little ways and continued experimentation. I came up with new things. I finally got the time to do only what I love and not other items in the back. So yes, lockdown did affect me in many ways, and I have made such cakes that I have never thought I would be trying — like the hookah or Air Jordan ones. Still, it has helped me grow as a baker and even learn how to do business in a better way with more deliveries and more logistics
How do you defuse tense situations between yourself and your assistance when you are already brimming with orders to be delivered soon enough?
I don’t have any assistance and do everything from scratch. The only situation that arises is between the delivery boy and me. They don’t understand the concept of a thing being delivered on time. With time, I Have learnt how to deal with them and call them even earlier so that they are actually on time. It not only disappoints them but me as well. So after a few such delays and disappointments, I learnt how to send cakes on time correctly!
Every dish or food has its own story to tell, if you had to describe your account using your baking skills, what dish would you make?
This is a tough question for me because there’s so much that I could have chosen from. But I selected a honeycomb. It’s a desert; it’s swift but also exact. You have to be quick when you are making it, and it has to be on the spot. I guess I can describe my life as such because everything happened very quickly with me; I started early, and I had to learn everything speedily. Every time you make a honeycomb, the shape is always different. Still, the taste is the same, so I like that no matter how the situation is, you have to try to make the best of it. A honeycomb can be seen as decoration on a dessert. Hence, I think for me it can be metaphorical that little mix is like a feather in my cap which I will be able to tell when I come from college and think about it in the long run. Still, yeah it will be with me the whole life because it’s what it started with.
What made you learn the piano? How often do you play it?
I have always been inclined towards music. I cannot sing, but I am fascinated by musical instruments. So in 11th and 12th, I didn’t get a lot of time as I used to bake a lot and take orders. But it wasn’t up to the mark, and I had times when I had to cancel the orders for my exams. So that time, I used to play the keyboard a lot. It gave me the outlet that baking used to provide me with. Now I play it whenever I get time because I have a lot of work. It works as a perfect stress buster, and it’s peaceful. And I learnt how to play it from YouTube.
What are your plans after you finish your studies abroad? Do you wish to open a small bakery shop abroad as well?
I mean that’s the dream. I can have a little mixx in the US. that would be great. But also be connected to my roots here in Delhi. So my course is for approximately four years, and after that first, I want to work under someone to get a 360-degree experience of owning expertise. So I could know how to treat everyone under me. And yeah, let’s hope that I can someday have a tiny little café by my name in the USA and one in Delhi.
1.Three words for New York – Passionate but calm
2.Holiday cookies or summer ice-cream – holiday cookies
3.An unusual ingredient that you use in desserts – Cinnamon
4.Fondant or buttercream – Buttercream
5.Chocolate chip cookie or vanilla icing? – Chocolate chip cookie