Life is sweet, enjoy a treat

Zelia Fernandes is a brilliant baker who enchants you with her exceptional desserts

A home-based bakery called Lia’s Sweet Treats offers a variety of cakes, sweets, and sweet treats. Zelia Fernandes has earned a reputation for providing exquisite and high-quality cakes and pastries over the years. Custom cakes in a variety of sizes and flavours are Lia’s Sweet Treats’ specialty.

Zelia studied at Mary Immaculate School in Panjim, followed by Don Bosco Higher Secondary School. Choosing baking as a profession was something she knew from a young age. Later, she enrolled at the Goa College of Hospitality and Culinary at Cidade de Goa, which is affiliated to Goa University.
Zelia earned a BBA degree in Hospitality and Culinary Arts and took full advantage of the internship opportunities provided by the college.

Zelia explains how her childhood memories have influenced her decision to pursue baking as a career. She states, “Every year, my mother would bake cakes for my birthday, and as a child, I would pack them with other goodies and distribute them in school. We didn’t have an oven at the time, so we baked it on the stove with a bundt cake tin. I discovered my passion for cakes as I baked vanilla cakes on a regular basis, as I simply adored them.”

Her college had a lot to offer, but they didn’t give her the type of work she wanted, so she had to push herself through all the training. After much efforts, her big break came when she was accepted to work at the bakery at Taj Vivanta, Panjim; where she received the finest exposure and training. Since there was limited staff in this section, she had to do most of the work. Depending on her shift, Zelia would be in charge of the buffet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Her duty would sometimes last 11-12 hours a day, something she did not enjoy as she had completely lost her social and family life. That is when she realised that she did not want to work in a hotel but start her own business instead.

“Opening Lia’s Sweet Treats was a very sudden and impromptu decision,” she says.
Zelia shares her inspiration behind Lia’s Sweet Treats. “My original plan after graduating was to work in a hotel, but that has since completely changed. I intended to open my own store in addition to trying out an HR position. I chose the home business and since then I have received a lot of positive feedback from social media platforms. I had a hard time selecting a name as I wanted it to sound lovely while also being simple to understand and remember. I used the last three letters of my name and thus Lia’s Sweet Treats was born.”

Zelia finds her business exciting as every cake is unique with a different design. “Every day when I wake up, I have something different to accomplish; my routine is not the same. You learn something new every day, and get to work on projects that others are enthralled by and show their appreciation for,” she says.

When asked about her most memorable project she states that she can’t pin it down to a single client as there are numerous, devoted clients who keep coming back with orders for various events. There are times when certain ideas cannot be conveyed through chats or calls and she stresses on the fact that one must be concise in their communication. Zelia tries her best to keep her clients happy, and hopes that they are pleased with her work.
Zelia is all praise for her family, who she says, is her rock. “My mother has constantly encouraged me to follow my interests. She never insisted that we pursue a particular vocation or that we become doctors or engineers. She is happy and proud of us as long as we are content with what we do. My father isn’t very vocal, but he demonstrates his support for me by picking up a few items from the market and purchasing supplies. I have always received plenty of encouragement from my sister. My boyfriend helps me on a regular basis with decorating cakes and everything else. I have always been given a thumbs-up by my loved ones, for my efforts.”

While talking about the challenges she faces, Zelia said that the pandemic affected each individual differently. It was a challenging moment for her as she lost several orders during that time. Despite that, she was thankful that few customers continued to stick around and place orders. She mentions, “It was a difficult period, but as long as I was at home surrounded by my loved ones, everything was okay.”

Zelia also runs a thrift shop in addition to being a prosperous baker. The name of her brand is ‘Guarda-roupa’ which means wardrobe in Portuguese. Before covid, she shared her shop with another entrepreneur, but things got too hectic and she was not able to dedicate her time to Lia’s Sweet Treats. She chose to keep running her business from her house. Zelia has an entire room dedicated to clothes which are sold through her thrift store. She considers it a wise and environmentally friendly way to shop.

Zelia shares her future plans, along with her mantra for success. She takes everything one day at a time. As of now, she intends to start a cloud kitchen which is a practical and sensible option, and possibly open a cafe later on. Her mantra for success is, “Do not be scared to dream. Your dreams will come true. If you have a vision, you should work towards it and it will all fall in place.”

Finally, she shares her thoughts for budding bakers, as we celebrate International Women’s Day. “I would like to tell women to avoid relying anyone or anything for support. We need to be more independent and assertive in pursuing our goals.

Last but not least, resist social pressure to conform to stereotypes and always believe in yourself.

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