Written by Hafsa Killru • Written 11 months ago
We keep hearing about Bakes by Bella all the time. Her scrumptious dessert jars. Homemade Caramel Latte. The super-cute, petite cupcakes. But who’s this Bella? Who’s behind all these popular desserts that make people go crazy? What’s the story behind all these?
Ending the suspense, let us unfold an exclusive interview with the woman behind Bakes by Bella – Whose actual name is Melissa!
Read on to know more…
Tell us about your humble beginnings…
To begin with, I moved to London with my family when I was young. Initially, I wanted to pursue my studies and career in the photography field since I had an intense passion for that. However, my parents wished that I become a professional doctor or engineer. Hence, I pursued my studies in Bio Medical Science. I returned to Sri Lanka in 2011 and that was when I went through a difficult phase trying to find a job in the competitive field. I was striving to find a job.
My passion for baking can be traced back to my childhood. Bakes by Bella started when I unintentionally opened an Instagram account for my bakes which I enjoyed as a passion – and that’s when people assumed I was selling desserts! Since I was already seeking a job I thought, “Why not start up my own business?!”
I believe Bakes by Bella initiated by a very good cause – A bake sale to raise funds for an orphanage! I always loved helping people and it also gave me a potential customer base who thought I was doing a business.
What is the story behind the name “Bakes by Bella”?
Well, I was called Bella at my university and it was my husband who suggested Bakes by Bella when I was racking my brains for a name. When I looked up the hashtag #bakesbybella in Instagram, I was surprised to see it empty. And Instagram is all about hashtags and that’s how the name originated.
Bakes by Bella is one of the most prominent and popular brands in Sri Lanka. What makes you stand out from the others in the same field?
I assume that the difference is the unique personality that shines through the work. If you are doing something original, that will definitely make you stand out from the others.
My dessert jars, even though they are so popular, was a random experiment that I tried out at home with an old jar in my kitchen. I had some extra baked brownies and strawberries and what hit me was, chocolate and strawberries complement each other while cream and strawberries complemented each other as well – So, why not try a combination of all three? And to my surprise, the combination worked well! There were other dessert jar sellers as well but I believe the combination and concept actually created a fad and that helped us grow.
What would you say is your biggest achievement in this three-year journey?
My biggest achievement would be the fierce loyalty I get from my customers and followers. Bakes by Bella was never advertised and it became popular purely based on social media and I am grateful that my followers have been keeping an eye out on Bakes by Bella and travelled the journey along with me throughout these three years. The credits go to my followers since they had shared the word about Bakes by Bella, making it a well-known brand.
Give us a little peek into your personal life…
My husband is a very determined man and he acts as a massive emotional strength to me. He helped me through thick and thin, transforming me into a much stronger woman. He handles most of the logical etiquettes, smoothing out things for me. We have a good chemistry and we sync well together - it is the balance of our minuses and pluses that keeps us together. I must thank my mom as well for always encouraging me towards success.
What are the future plans for Bakes by Bella?
To be honest, my dream was to stand where I am now. I have got a lovely team of fun and young people who are truly supportive. They are creative, dynamic and they understand me well. People even drop by to see our young and handsome team members and that’s the pun.
I want to keep introducing new things to my followers. When I had wished for a simple naked cake with fresh flowers for my wedding, no one across Sri Lanka actually understood the concept. Hence, I took initiative to introduce it to the locals.
I want Bakes by Bella to be a hangout spot where everyone can express themselves. The sole reason we have colouring books, novels and games is to bring out the creativity in people while they chill out with their favourite desserts. We have a plan to conduct open mic nights and book clubs once a month to encourage interaction too.
I am also planning on opening branches and my main focus is Kandy at the moment since I have a huge base of followers there.
Everyone sees you as a resilient woman. Anything you would love to say to the women who strive to pursue their dreams?
I have realised that, no matter how advanced Sri Lanka is, there is a level of restriction – especially for women. Just be you. Do what you love. Even if you fail, if you have a burning passion for what you love, keep trying.