By Mark Louis Ferrolino
Special Features Writer
The art of baking allows one person to mix up artistry and skills to form a beautiful creation. More than other culinary endeavors, baking requires passion and patience in following accurate measurements in order to come up with delicious and lovely treats. The idea of preparing, cooking and sharing these goodies with good company defines the essence of baking that makes life lighter and brighter.
For Rocel Roque-Maningat, one of the owners of Baker’s Hub, baking makes a lot of people happy. “Once you received a baked good, it makes you happy because nobody says no to cakes or cupcakes. And if you’re the one baking, it makes you feel good because you’re doing something that you love,” she told BusinessWorld in an interview. “Whether you’re the one who bakes or receives it, it’s just a great feeling.”
Although there is an inexplicable joy in baking, it is not accessible to everyone as it can easily get expensive. Providing the essential equipment up to purchasing the ingredients that are only available in large packaging could break one’s pocket and budget. Even the availability of baking and confectionary store itself is a common problem that holds back bakers in pursuing the craft or in generating extra income from selling baked products.
Seeing these things as an opportunity, Ms. Maningat’s family, led by his brother Kristian Kristoffer A. Roque and mother Annie A. Roque, conceptualized and opened the first branch of Baker’s Hub in a 50-square meter space in Malolos, Bulacan to primarily cater to bakers around the area, who intentionally travel to Manila just to find their needs in baking.
Baker’s Hub lives by its name as it offers a wide array of baking ingredients (flour, sugar, coco powder chocolate, etc.), baking and decorating tools (pans, cups, moulds, toppers, mixers, etc.) and packaging supplies (cake boxes, cake boards, plastic canisters, tin cans, pouches, etc.) to home bakers, caterers and coffee shop owners. It serves as a one-stop shop for bakers where almost everything that they need is available.
“Seven years ago when it started, there was a market but it’s not like today wherein a lot of people bake and many schools offer HRM (hotel and restaurant management) courses. During the first few years, [our business] wasn’t really doing so well, but eventually it grew and I think we grew along the industry,” Ms. Maningat said.
In response to the growing market demand, Baker’s Hub opened its second branch in Meycuayan, Bulacan last year which caters to bakers in the area and from its neighboring cities like Valenzuela, Malabon and Caloocan. From a baking retail store that occupies two units in Licaros Commercial Strip, it added another unit, dedicated for baking demonstrations, classes and workshops, which they called “Atelier”, a French term for workshop or studio.
In its studio, Baker’s Hub offers one-day baking workshops depending on the specialization of the guest chef. The most recent workshops it held focused on making basic fondant, basic breads, bouquet cake, vintage wedding cake, succulents and flower cupcakes.
With a studio, fully equipped with baking tools and a hands-on monitoring from the expert chef, participants learn a certain baking course with great ease and comfort that ranges for only P2,500 to P4,000, inclusive of class materials, recipes, lunch, snacks, certificates and take home products.
Amidst the industry’s changes and competitions, Baker’s Hub remains at the forefront of providing and delivering baking supplies. It has evolved with the industry’s trends and developments by focusing on customer engagement and listening to their feedbacks. On this aspect, Ms. Maningat shared that they took advantage of the power of social media to reach a bigger market, promote their workshops, and build relationships with the customers, responding as fast as they could in customers’ inquiries.
To make the “hub” truly a paradise for every baker, they make sure that all their supplies are arranged presentably and all their staff has adequate knowledge on what they are selling. Beyond all of these, Baker’s Hub maintains to have a competitive price among its product offerings.
“We look for a place that’s accessible but at the same time, the operating costs are not high so we can keep our prices low. And, customers appreciate that. That’s how we maintain our price competitive, and I think if we stay that way, then we can adapt to the changes,” Ms. Maningat said.
For almost seven years of its success, Ms. Maningat said that her background in marketing, together with her brother’s culinary knowledge and their mom’s experience in accounting, have helped them to properly run the business. “Our backgrounds help us to grow and grow further. I think it helped that we merged all our specializations from whatever we did before,” she said.
When asked about what kind of advice she would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Ms. Maningat gave three points. First, an entrepreneur should have a vision to not just enter a business but do the business with great purpose. “For example, when we opened the studio, we opened it because we want to share our knowledge, we want to make baking accessible to people,” she explained.
Second, keep up with different trends, not just in the line of your business but also to marketing and graphic design trends as these factors contribute to the growth of the business.
Finally, she said that it is important to always listen to customers, who she refers as the “kings”, to be able to know their needs and wants.