Sundri Ramesh had everything she wanted. A loving husband, and a steady job as the human resources manager at a renowned events management company.

But deep down, there was a lingering void that she felt needed to be filled. So in 2015, she decided to quit her job to pursue her true passion - baking, which she had loved doing since her teens, but had no time to follow.

Astro Ulagam spoke to the mother of two in her late 50s, who is now renowned for her Indian-themed designer cakes, especially her saree design ones.

"I used to bake even prior to resigning but it was usually during my free time, and for orders by word of mouth.

"So when I wanted to call it quits and venture into baking full-time, my CEO just told me that whatever I want to create, I better make something that people will recognize me for," she recalled over a phone interview from her home in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan.

Even after starting her baking business full time, Sundri could not rest on doing something that "everyone else" was doing.

She wanted something more; something different that would get her to challenge herself and her abilities.

Saree Cake Takes Off

In 2017, Sundri baked her first saree cake. The reception for the cake was good, but it did not get the attention it deserved.

Sundri then shared the design on a Facebook group and it quickly went viral, garnering more than 1,800 likes in less than an hour of posting, she said.

Today, Sundri has coached more than 400 students via both physical and online classes - many of whom have gone on to have their own successful baking careers.

Even when she has achieved so much, Sundri does not stinge on compliments, as she often posts the works of her students on her personal business Instagram account!

In fact, throughout the phone conversation with this journalist, she mentioned about her students' achievements multiple times.

Her baking students include airline industry workers who had lost their jobs during the Movement Control Order (MCO) in 2020, as well as housewives.

"If I inspire people by doing what I'm doing after retiring at 50, then I consider it an achievement. I often tell them 'If I can do it, why can't you?'

"Everyone should dream big. Just take the first step in pursuing what you are passionate about and God will lead you the rest of the way," she said.

Asked about what is the most challenging part of her job, Sundri said it was getting the details on her designs right. This especially when she has to incorporate lace designs on a saree cake.

"This usually requires a lot of planning, and everything, from designing the items to the end result, takes about two days on average," she said.

Thankfully for her, there are moulds available now for most of the designs she has to do, whereas when she first started, they needed to be done by hand.

Happy to Inspire

Sundri still strives to constantly improves her skills, with a two-tier saree and jippa cake in her crosshairs next.

She is glad that young bakers are looking to her as an example, eventhough it sometimes means that her works of art are copied without attribution.

"I'm fine with that, because deep inside, I know that I inspired them."

Sundri's home-based baking business has been recognised by the Negeri Sembilan Health Department as an example to other home bakers.

Sundri's two children, both in their 20s, help her market her skills via Instagram and Facebook, in their spare time.

You can check out Sundri's impressive cake designs on her Instagram page, as well as on Facebook.

Photos source: Sundri Ramesh