When Rabya Faysal was just six years old, she baked her first round chocolate cake to perfection. Since then, all her free time was spent in the kitchen, learning and experimenting with food ingredients, coming up with a variety of dishes and delicious baked goods. Baking became her passion and eventually, Rabya began catering to family and friends.
Today, Rabya stands as the country’s pioneer in designer cake industry, with a large clientele from all over Pakistan. In 2009, with the push and support of her family, she decided to convert her childhood dream into reality. “I always wanted to open my own outlet,” she recalls. “Things were moving fast, people were going to designers but nobody was doing fancy cakes.”
When she realized the trend towards designer goods was taking off, she set up a Facebook account for orders on customized cakes. Within a few months, she received an overwhelming response. From themed birthday cakes to multi-tiered engagement cakes, customised orders came pouring in.
However, success did not come overnight and Rabya worked day and night to achieve perfection. In the beginning when an order was placed, the master cake stylist baked more than one options to achieve perfection. She wanted the customer to be happy and achieve the desired result they had asked for. “Sometimes I would stay up all night, baking the same order again and again until the cake turned out perfect.”
Looking at Rabya’s Redolence – A Bake Studio cakes, they look more like decoration pieces and pure works of art. The attention to detail is outstanding- some include delicate sugary roses atop different coloured frosting or two-toned ribbons contrasting nicely with dainty dots or intricate patterned icing with pearl and gold beads. The variety does not stop here, there are other cakes full of fun characters, loud with colours and fancy embellishments.
Customers come with different requirements, sometimes with a set of pictures of how they want their cake to look like and Rabya’s goal is to make the cake as aesthetically pleasing and as flavourful as possible. “Sometimes it gets difficult to make a fancy cake exactly how the customer envisions but I try my best to please everyone.”
For Rabya, her secret to success is in the ingredients, finesse and creativity. Her cakes truly display her skill as an artist and a designer. She offers a wide range of flavours from chocolate to caramel, fresh seasonal fruitcakes to rich cream ones and many more. Her clients in Lahore mostly prefer her chocolate filling cake. Her own personal favourite is a pure chocolate sponge cake with chocolate ganache frosting. “I prefer smooth and gooey cakes. I am always practicing different flavours with smooth chocolate and I make my own chocolate ganache frosting.”
Her cakes come in all sizes and at reasonable rates. The more decorated ones require more time and labour, hence, prices can vary on the higher end. It was not long after Rabya set the trend in motion for designer cakes that other competing brands stepped into the field. Many commercial and home bakeries have now opened up, offering customised specialty cakes but Rabya’s Redolence has maintained a quality unmatchable to others. She stands out in creating unique items. “I always try to come up with my own ideas, and help customers come up with an aesthetically pleasing idea. I do not replicate, I create,” she says. “If I merely copy ideas of other cake makers then I am not being creative. Why would people buy from me then?”
They say practice makes perfect and Rabya’s work is a proof of that. It is fascinating to note that she never undertook any formal training in baking or culinary skills. She had an inborn talent and mastered the art with practice. After infinite experiments in her kitchen, sometimes even baking on the stove when the oven would not work, baking cakes became second nature. “I do not have any formal training but my experiments and my college studies like food and nutrition helped me a lot. I know how to mix and make combinations. I know what food chemistry is, I do not follow recipes.”
Initially, Rabya had no resources- no molds or even an electric beater. She used a hand beater on several occasions and even an accident with a gas oven did not deter her away from her passion. Once while baking, the gas oven in her kitchen exploded, shattering the glass and throwing her off her feet. But she had a commitment with a client and covered the oven temporarily with foil paper. “I stayed up all night, peeking through the foil paper after every few minutes to see if the cake was getting baked.”
This continuous effort and commitment to her work has helped her achieve as well as maintain a name in the industry and there is a lot more she wishes to accomplish. From strictly baking for teachers, friends and family members, she now gets an impressive number of orders for baking per day. “It is all about commitment. I have not been on holiday for the last 6-7 years of my life.”
And to verify this statement, when we at Brides & You contacted her for this feature, Rabya was busy with a newborn baby. After three weeks, she was up and running back to work with full force and enthusiasm.
Things have become easier for her now that she has an entire team devoted to the creativity, baking and financial side of the business but she remembers her earlier days with gratefulness. She points out that if it had not been for her family’s support, she would not be where she is now.
Her future plan involves opening up a restaurant in Lahore, Islamabad and Abu Dhabi to eventually take her brand international. In fact, her husband Faysal took four to five months coming up with the name ‘Redolence’ which means a specific smell that creates nostalgia. He envisioned it as an international brand and wanted a name used in different languages. We wish her all the best.