text Panchali Illankoon
In this series, we talk to people who turned their passion for food and baking into a business idea amidst lockdown and COVID-19 fears. Some have been in the market for years and others saw the new opportunity and took it! These home businesses are changing the game and have overcome the odds of running a business during quarantine. With increased restrictions once more, we talk to home bakers who are operating during these times to bring the sweet and savoury to your very own doorstep!
Sensing a niche in the market for Sri Lankan toffee suppliers and curated gift boxes, Jazmiya Jhan started Boxed Gesture. “We kept receiving the same butter cookie tins from visitors and that prompted me to think of alternative gift ideas as it’s a Sri Lankan tradition to take something along when you visit relatives and friends. I started Boxed Gesture to introduce Toffee Boxes with a simple tagline ‘Gift Boxed Gesture; be that favourite visitor!’
What do you offer?
Boxed Gesture offers Toffee such as Milk, Coconut, Coffee and Semolina Toffee. We also have Pineapple Rock, Passion Fruit Delight which are fusions of toffee. In addition, we offer Marshmallow in five flavours and we do Blondies, Caramelita and a few more Bars. Passion Fruit Delight is my very own product.I love experimenting new things and with no fear of failing and the outcome was this Toffee item which is ideal for every citrus lover. It's sweet and tangy. The Blueberry Blondie Bar is another one of my fusion findings which has a Blondie base, blueberry filling and streusel topping.Apart from Mellows and Milk Toffee, our other best sellers are the Pineapple Rock and The Caramelita.
When did you start operatios?
Boxed Gesture was started back in October 2018 and this year we will be celebrating 3 years of being in business! I started with the help of my sister and husband. They helped me create my page on Instagram and Facebook and even taught me how to create and edit pictures. I have to say a very big thank you to my cousins. They were my very first customers and they made my business.
What is it like running your operations in times like these?
The lockdowns brought a complete full stop to my catering with difficulties in purchasing ingredients to delivering and that was challenging. But over time, it got much better with all services functioning better than before!
How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
Customer satisfaction is key to me. All ingredients are stored accordingly to the needed temperature with the utmost care.The equipment and hands are washed and dried properly before making and storing each batch of sweets. This is crucial as water or moisture is the enemy to sweets life span!
What do you enjoy about baking and operating your own home baking business?
The time I get to spend at home around my kids is the biggest benefit of having a home-based business (which at times, sometimes makes me doubt my judgement of choosing a home business!) but it's a treasure being able to see them grow. Another benefit is that the days I work more I earn more, the days I work less I earn less but I get more time to relax and spend with family unlike being employed elsewhere.
How do you see home bakers going forward post Covid?
The biggest problem is the price hike in all ingredients and packaging items. The profit margin has reduced and the prices of sweets have increased. I've tried hard to balance both so the customer and I both don't lose out.
What’s next for your brand?
As I started the journey to have more gifting options, my aim is to make these sweet boxes easily available either in existing stores or as an Online store.
Any advice to anyone who wants to start their own business?
It's a dream, it's a manifestation and it's a journey - not an end. So be prepared to struggle, be prepared to fail so you don't give up when things go wrong. As the famous saying goes "Hard work beats talent", all you need to do is to keep moving. Work smart!
Boxed Gesture take orders via Instagram and Facebook (@Boxed Gesture) or over call or Whatsapp. Cash on Delivery and Bank Transfers are accepted.Islandwide delivery is available.