Married at 13 into an orthodox family, she didn’t let chores come in the way of her love for baking: Supriya Roy

Supriya Roy of The Sugarr and Spice has built 125 shop confectionary chain, all while pulling off a fine balancing act with her family life.

Roy traces the roots of her liking for cake and baking to her childhood, where she found peace in her baking corner. Much later – after marriage and having children – she found her quiet, happy corner again, in the bakery she opened in the garage of her home. Today, she runs 125 fully-owned and franchisee shops in Kolkata and its suburbs. Her 28-year-old business The Sugarr and Spice draws more than 100,000 customers every day.

But, it wasn’t a cakewalk for the 68-year-old. Born into an orthodox family, Roy got married at 13 into a royal family, becoming a mother a couple of years later. Although she quit her studies to care for her family, she soon restarted her education. In fact, she would often study while tutoring her son. He was in class 10 when she enrolled for a flower arrangement course. One thing led to another, and soon, Roy was taking baking lessons at her home followed by lessons in continental cooking. She then enrolled at the Institute of Hotel Management in Taratala.

Roy started a baking and cooking class for women at her home with one student and began advertising in the newspaper. Soon she was teaching 40 students everything from Indian and Chinese dishes to making ice cream. Roy ran the class for 10 years, and she credits this experience to giving her the much-need push to start The Sugarr & Spice.

In 1995, she expanded her factory to 4,500 sq ft and even began importing ovens, mixers and other bakery machines. The next milestone was to offer franchises, and she is painfully particular about how the business should be conducted. She now had 250 distributors in Kolkata and its suburbs.

Roy believes in pricing her products to reach everyone and, to keep them interested, she attends every bakery festival to learn new recipes and of new trends. In 2000, Roy was awarded the National Award for Best Entrepreneur (small scale industries) and, in 2010, her company received the MSME National Award for manufacturing quality products.

She believes that women have a bigger purpose in life than just bearing children. “We must all keep battling on with all our strength,” she says.

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