As a child, Namrata Vippala spent days watching her mother and her aunts make food and then taking great care to present it, with the right kind of crockery and lacy napkins. Juices and milkshakes served as the perfect accompaniments. Little did Namrata know that those sweet days would ignite in her a deep passion. “This has inspired me to make simple food that is naturally beautiful, intense in flavours that work in perfect harmony and aren’t toyed with or upstaged by too many culinary elaborations,” says Namrata, now 27 and the owner and founder of Dusk Miller Confectionery.
Launched in 2012, the confectionary’s signature products — pistachio and orange cookies; chocolate rose cookies and butter biscuits — are making an impression on the culinary scene not only in Hyderabad, but across the country. “Our egg-less cakes are quite popular. Especially the Victorian sponge cake and lemon and almond Madeira cake,” says Namrata.
A sustainable home-style bakery, Dusk Miller is set amidst a beautiful scenery in a serene, green-powered farmhouse. “It was founded to bring the delectable taste of handmade products and an ambition to bake the finest biscuits and cookies. From taking orders after college hours to working in a compact kitchen from dusk to dawn, we are now a full-time functioning bakery,” says Namrata.
The confectionary’s growing business now takes orders from multinational companies, wedding planners and retail outlets — about 65 orders for her colourful, handmade cakes and cookies come in every week.
Life before dusk
“I am fortunate to be surrounded by supportive family and friends. One thing about Hyderabad is that it embraces authenticity and celebrates it by helping you become better. Dusk Miller is driven by passion. I believe that the things you are passionate about are your calling,” says the computer science engineer, graduated from Mala Reddy Engineering College.
Namrata, who did her schooling from St. Ann’s High School, says, “I loved engineering but didn’t always have the freedom to be creative. We had to stick to what the text books said. The need for a creative outlet led to baking.”
Throughout her college life, Namrata found ways to keep baking. She started selling her products while in college and it eventually became a fulltime job.
And today, her entrepreneurial journey has transformed her in ways more than one. Who used to be a shy baker is now a confident, young entrepreneur. “I have learnt that there are no shortcuts to success and that has made me work harder and become more patient,” says the alumni of Amity Business School.
Namrata believes that her family has been her safety net. “My grandfather was my first customer and my biggest inspiration. He showed me that anything is possible with determination and hard work. He once told me, ‘Shut down your store for a bit if you have to, but do not serve food that is less than top quality. My father taught me that business is not just about making money, it’s about sustaining and having a sense of satisfaction from doing an honest day’s work while achieving customer satisfaction,” she shares.
A recipe for a bright future
Namrata has a clear vision of what’s ahead for Dusk Miller. She loves inventing new products and recreating time-honoured classics. “It is through the ingredients we use and our desire to show the depth of flavour, rather than just sophisticated-looking products, that our style has evolved,” she says. Talking about the biggest lessons she has learnt so far as a successful entrepreneur, she says, “Dreams don’t work unless you do. Customers are loyal to quality and integrity. The ingredients are the core; you are only as good as your last product, so it’s not enough to earn your reputation once. You have to re-earn it bit by bit, every day.”
Designing Food Packages
Since our workshop is closer to the airport, in the early days (when we did not have online or retail stores) people used to pick up our biscuits and cookies on the way to the airport. This is how our products started being taken to other cities and got popular outside Hyderabad