Simran Oberoi Multani – a vegan baker, a social activist and a TEDx Speaker!
When you are good at something, you ought to do it and excel. This is what the story of SIMRAN OBEROI MULTANI tells us. She left her job as an HR professional to pursue her passion for baking. Simran, a mother of a handsome young lad decided to give wings to her dream and become a full-time baker. She started Ovenderful, and guess what, she bakes with a cause.
Simran is a vegan baker, and her delicacies are utterly yummylicious and healthy, gluten-free and kid-friendly. She also uses her passion for raising funds for different social causes. Simran has associated herself with many NGOs and drives, which work towards the community at large. As a blogger, she writes very interesting articles as well at https://ovenderfulhealthybaking.wordpress.com/. Recently, she had achieved another feat by becoming a TEDx Speaker.
Recently, Simran was also invited to Singapore to attend an event as a regional community leader from India. The event was presided by none other than Sheryl Sandberg. This is a big achievement for her and the FB team will be covering an upcoming baking event that Simram is a part of.
Check this for the entire coverage: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/facebooks-sheryl-sandberg-meets-people-in-singapore-who-use-fb-groups-promises-more
Let us hear a few words from this multitalented lady, who has made a mark for herself, following her passion and is currently living her dream.
‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’ – This is what Simran believes in.
1) How did it all start? How did Ovenderful happen?
Ovenderful started in 2011 as a baking blog. I actively started baking when I began voluntary vocational skills classes at an NGO Search Years in Gurgaon. This was conducted to introduce the skill of baking to girls in the rural areas.
Then, it transitioned into a healthy baking venture because I was keen to give my toddler healthy biscuits and bakes, without maida and refined white sugar. Gradually, it also became a social enterprise (that is, a business with a soul) and a well-known community.
2) Did you take any formal training in baking or it was just at your fingertips?
No formal training. Only a desire to try, experiment and excel.
3) Tell us about a few social initiatives that you have been associated with.
Through both – Ovenderful and Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community, there is a whole lot of initiatives that happen through the year. When I started my baking in 2010/2011, it was by conducting volunteer classes at an NGO Search Years, in Gurgaon, to create a line of vocational training for 12 girls from rural areas in Haryana.
Apart from this, I also slowly became part of all fundraisers that focus on generating money for abandoned and injured animals in Delhi and Bangalore- as of now I have baked for Indigree Angels Trust, Help & Heal Animal Trust, Voice of Stray Dogs, CARE Animal Shelter and Precious Paws Foundation.
Extending the desire to use baking as a social impact tool, I involved a lot of volunteer bakers to bake for various causes. The Bake-a-Sunshine Cake initiative (2015 and 2016) was carried out across many cities in India as well as in the US, where bakers took home-baked goodies to old age homes and orphanages in the month of December. The same endeavour is now being planned for 2017.
I partnered with the Kritagyata Trust to bake (and encourage almost 20-30 more bakers to join as well) for 2000 children for a Children’s Day distribution of government schools in rural areas of Neelmangala close to Bengaluru. This year, we plan to cover 2800 kids.
Currently, a flagship program of Ovenderful is underway. A set of volunteer bakers since July 2016 have been baking and distributing healthy bakes regularly for slum children/street children/children of migrant labour in their local areas. This is a more consistent and regular program so that not only do we give the children the joy of the goodies but also some small form of nutrition. It is called the Ovenderful BakeStreat Program and is a PAN India initiative.
Ovenderful BakeStreat Program – DNA Newspaper Coverage
4) What motivates you to balance your professional and personal self?
The fact that both are essentials and non-negotiable in my life – for me, both parts are an extension of who I am, and a path to where I want to reach. So I make sure that I am trying my best to balance both these aspects, every single day. Some days one takes up more of my time and mind space, some days it is the other. But most days, it is a balance of both personal and professional self, that are a part of my regular routine.
5) Who or what has been your biggest support in your endeavours?
In terms of who, there have been many – my mother, who encouraged me every step of the way to follow and grow into what I aspired to be, she has taught me what it is to fight and remain positive in the face of all kinds of adversity. She has been fighting cancer for 12 years now and no matter what she is going through, her courage and positive attitude is what shines through. My husband and little children have also been very supportive, whether it is through their help in small activities that are linked to my venture or being understanding when they see that I am occupied with the work related to it.
My biggest support has been my own ability to persevere and remain on that path, no matter how things have been. Apart from this, standing strong to what I truly believe in, has what has really helped me to remain committed to the endeavours.
Another thing is the support of the almost 18,000 members of the FB group motivates me. The energy and warmth of the group, the way mom bakers connect with each other and me, or readily join in for every single initiative. All these elements have been a HUGE support and actually the drivers for these endeavours.
6) What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Not having enough funds/investment to scale up into a physical storefront or at times support the social impact work that I do. Currently, I work as a single person enterprise, which means I am pulled into the operations/tactical part and also trying to work on the strategic path for Ovenderful. Focusing on the smaller day-to-day details at times shift the focus from the bigger picture. I have managed to overcome it to some extent by firstly, prioritizing and sharpening the focus of what Ovenderful and Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community needs to focus on, in a clearer way. Secondly, by spending time and effort in creating a brand presence that is unique and unmatched as of now.
7) Recently, you delivered as a TEDx Speaker. How was your experience?
It was an incredible experience. The best way to describe it is that it was inexplicable! Being on a platform like TEDx which showcases people having path-breaking ideas, is a true honour and privilege. Sharing my ideas about veganism with an audience, that was a mix of students who are starting their life’s journey and other participants who have gone through some life experiences, was exhilarating.
1) One thing you always carry with you/in your purse.
2) One woman/person inspires who inspires you.
3) Simran enjoys talking the most when she is with her family.
4) The best compliment from a client that you have received for your work.
Diksha Shah wrote “After reading great reviews about Ovenderful, I ordered a cake from Simran for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and I must say I am extremely happy I did so. I wanted a healthy vegan cake which is definitely not easy to make.
5) One advice for budding women entrepreneurs.
Remain committed, have perseverance, find their specialized niche and stick to it.
6) If not a baker, Simran would have been a writer.
7) Share one of your easy and favourite recipes for this festival season.