Mompreneur Aditi Handa Gives India Its Very Own Gourmet Bakery With Baker’s Dozen
We all have a purpose in life, big or small, and some find it sooner than later. Aditi Handa, an Ahmedabad-based baker and pastry chef, discovered her calling in her now popular bakery brand, The Baker’s Dozen.
About The Founders
In 2009, Aditi completed her Masters degree in Psychology and Human Resource Management from Nottingham University in England. Once she returned to India, she wanted to create a business making college merchandise, gifts, and souvenirs. She successfully opened India’s first branded campus merchandise store, The Wimwian, at IIM Ahmedabad, which sold a range of very stylish and quirky products. This was Aditi’s first tryst with entrepreneurship.
After their marriage in 2010, Aditi and her husband Sneh Jain, came up with the idea for Baker’s Dozen. It was driven by the idea to provide quality bread and bakery products, as they felt there weren’t any authentic options in the Indian market. Also, bread, per se, is not an Indian product by nature—it’s available in different forms all over the world, including France, Germany, and other countries, Aditi tells I Boss Mom. The couple sought to obtain several varieties of European bread in their original forms, in order to make them readily available to Indians.
To promote their brand, the couple reasoned that one of them should be schooled and technically skilled in bread production. Aditi enrolled in the French Culinary Institute, New York in 2012, hoping to gather the required expertise, but after just a few days of shaping sourdough, she was completely enamoured with the art of bread making. That was the moment when everything changed—a moment she will never forget! She decided then and there that she wanted to be a baker as well as an entrepreneur. She returned to India with the finest training, and the duo launched their brand The Baker’s Dozen in Mumbai in 2013.
Come 2015, Aditi returned to Paris to further study patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, a prestigious institution for bakers in the world.
The chefs taught us how to honour our products and maintain the authenticity of the product and not always think about commercialising baking. This process of falling in love with bread baking has helped us in curating our menu.
About The Brand, The Baker’s Dozen
Starting with a tiny kitchen in Dadar and selling baked goods from a store in Prabhadevi, the company has now grown to 27 outlets and 300 retail partners across India. The manufacturing unit was relocated to Ahmedabad’s Kheda district in 2019, and the freshly baked products are delivered to their warehouse and then to their stores or tie-up stores every day. The Baker’s Dozen supplies freshly baked goods daily to customers across Delhi, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, among other cities. The brand’s products are also available on e-commerce sites like Amazon, Big Basket, Super Dairy, Milk Basket, and others, which allows them to have a pan-India presence. Their most profitable markets are Mumbai and Bangalore, and cities like Ahmedabad, Baroda, and Surat also generate revenue for the brand—something the founder did not expect initially.
At the end of the day, it’s bread, and it’s available everywhere, but people looking for superior products are present in every place, so that’s no longer the issue.
The brand currently has 52 SKUs with prices ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 300, including croissants, sourdough, and other types of bread, as well as sponge cakes, cookies, peanut butter, crackers, breadsticks, sunflower seed butter, cookie butter, cake premix, and pancake mix. The best-selling products are the four-grain sourdough, pizzas, banana walnut cake, banana bread cake, lavash, ragi crackers, dark chocolate cookies, and peanut butter cookies.
The business began with four bakers who knew nothing about sourdough except that they wanted to learn how to make it and enjoy it. Apart from the creator, chef Aditi, and her co-founder, who is also the managing director of The Baker’s Dozen, the brand has 250 employees with 150 in production, 70 in sales, and the remaining in the head office. Except for the early days when the creator baked everything, Chef Aditi now sends every recipe to her manufacturing unit, where the products are prepared as per her directions. She also goes to the factory three times a week to ensure quality checks. All of the basic ingredients, including flour, seeds, and fruits, are sourced locally and in a sustainable manner. When it comes to cocoa powder or chocolate, however, these are imported from Europe.
The Market Size
Sourdough is a type of bread prepared by fermenting dough. You’re supposed to take a little amount of dough from the previous days/weeks’ bread and add it to fresh bread to ferment it. During this phase, the response guarantees that the gut property is preserved and that all of the nutrients in the product are digested. An all-purpose flour sourdough is more expensive than regular bread.
The backstory to how Aditi gained the courage to introduce sourdough to the Indian market goes something like this. Initially, the company offered door-to-door sampling of their products, including sourdough bread. Indians have always enjoyed soft sweetbreads since these varieties of bread are crusty by nature. When Aditi knocked on an elderly man’s door, he walked in with his oxygen tube and stared at her as she handed him the sourdough sample. He was curious whether this was the traditional sourdough, which is hard and crusty. When Aditi responded positively, he said, ‘Very nice, always make products like these and never compromise!’
I recall returning home to Sneh and declaring that the issue had been resolved. It was a pivotal moment for me, and it validated everything we were doing at The Baker’s Dozen. My target audience is people between the ages of 20-25 and 40-45, and it’s primarily purchased by women, but that isn’t always a parameter. Our target market is everyone who values healthy living and high-quality, delicious products.
The mompreneur mentioned that her grandparents forbade them from eating bread since it was considered unhealthy. However, Aditi believes that if the bread is prepared correctly, it does not harm the body. So, Baker’s Dozen’s main concern is that they utilise 100 percent whole wheat sourdough bread—a technique for making nutritious, gut-friendly bread.
Aditi, as she talks more about her brand’s USP says,
To discover the common ground between tasty and nutritious food is a tough task, but with The Baker’s Dozen, everything is achievable. We utilise all-purpose flour in some of the recipes that cannot be produced with whole wheat flour, such as croissants and brioche. We’re recognised for offering nutritious and delicious foods.
Surely, ‘I Boss Mom’
In 2017, a month before Aditi’s twins were born, she recalls telling her gynaecologist that she would return to work within a few days after giving birth. For Aditi, who has always preferred to work, taking a break was not her cup of tea. But in order to spend more time with her children, she did not work for about a year and a half, which according to the Boss Mom was too long of a work-break for a co-founder. Eventually, the mompreneur returned to work gradually, although coming back was incredibly tough because there was so much to manage, according to the her.
I’ve already given so much to Baker’s Dozen, and now that I have children, I want to give them all I’ve got, and there’s no reason why I should compromise. There is no way that I would have been able to do all of it without them. I felt bad at times since I’m not a working mom and only a stay-at-home mom, but everyone said it’s alright and I can rejoin whenever I want. You figure out what you want and what kind of support you need. I keep a fairly rigid schedule, which not only helps me work effectively but also maintains my sanity. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to stay at home or go to work. Don’t be bogged down by societal pressure since it will always be there; instead, learn to block it and focus on what you want to achieve. And never feel sorry about the decisions you make in your life.