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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Female Foodpreneurs: Sumnoon Humaira on her love affair with the kitchen and Boxed

My love affair with the kitchen began at an early age. I began baking at the age of four, and by the time I was in middle school, cooking had become both a hobby and a stress reliever for me. 

In 2009 when I moved to the US with my family, I automatically became the resident cook. I enjoyed cooking but at the beginning, I took on the role mostly because I didn’t want my mother to take that load. But soon I found that the art of cooking was the least like a chore to me. On one hand, I was excelling in making the perfect Hollandaise sauce or Crème anglaise, on the other I was struggling to find the heart and patience to finish my undergraduate degree in business administration. There came a point when I got so frustrated that I just wanted to drop out of school, but my father wouldn’t hear of it, graduation was a must. Finally, with my back against the wall, on a whim I took what was probably the best decision I have ever taken in my life – I switched my degree to culinary science.

As soon as did that, everything began to fall in place for me. I quickly made my way through college and by the time I moved back to Dhaka a year ago, I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and set up shop. I was nervous as I had been away from the country for 10 years and felt almost like a stranger in my own country. I barely knew anybody in the food industry or even an idea of what the market was like. However, I took a leap of faith and within five months of returning to Bangladesh, in November of 2019 I launched Boxed – a bespoke catering business. It wasn’t easy as I had to make my way from the ground up, but I’m proud to say that in a short amount of time I have been able to build a solid customer base and business network. In spite of having entered a very saturated market to offer my products, I have been lucky enough to have gotten a very good response. My menu offers a variety of cakes, desserts and hors d’oeuvres but the number of orders I get for my Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Filling and Peanut Brittle, and Chocolate Ganache frosting far surpasses those I receive for any other item. In the face of its popularity, I decided to make it Boxed’s signature dish.

One of the highlights of this journey for me is the messages I get from my customers after they’ve sampled my food. Recently a customer ordered a cake from me not to celebrate an occasion, but just to satisfy a sudden craving for my signature cake. That message made my day.

If I think about it, in a way Boxed has been a dream for me for over a decade. Even when I wasn’t planning a career in this field, the desire for this venture was tucked away in some corner of my heart. Not only has that dream become a reality, considering the fact that the pandemic hit within four months of the launch, Boxed has been doing quite well. In fact, soon I will be taking my 75th order for the signature chocolate cake.

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