Concordia student opens home bakery in the midst of the pandemic
The chocolatey scent of freshly baked cookies, the aroma of banana and chocolate chip muffins still baking in the oven, and the sweet notes of vanilla from the cupcakes cooling on the kitchen counter—these are the smells that fill Daniella Hosni’s kitchen as she prepares her orders for the day.
Hosni warmly welcomes a guest into her home with a coffee. Her bakery is a conventional home kitchen with all the ingredients and tools needed to create delicious sugary treats. On the counter is a singular standing mixer. Just off the kitchen is a pantry full of bags of flour, different types of sugars, jars of spices, and many more ingredients.
A Concordia English literature student, Hosni opened a home bakery named Daniella’s Delights last summer. She began selling cakes, cookies, muffins, and cupcakes via her Instagram account. Customers either fill out a form linked on the Instagram page or directly message Hosni to place an order. Hosni prefers the latter, as it is a good way for her to get to know her clients.
The bakery was an escape for Hosni. She quit her old job at Starbucks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because she felt unsafe working in public. With her new-found spare time, Hosni started baking at home for pleasure. It took a few months before Daniella’s boyfriend realized she could monetize her hobby.
“I was baking every day, just filling the time with making new things every day, sometimes more than once in a day,” she says, folding food colouring into the icing for an afternoon order. “It got to a point where I was making too much to keep at home and I would start giving it away to friends and family.”
Hosni admits running the bakery was a challenge during the lockdown period, and even more so with the return back to campus.
“It’s always been a challenge to keep track of my orders and finding a good system that ensures that I get every order done and on time,” she says. “It’s becoming even more of a challenge now [...] with school and everything, it's hard to balance the two of them at the same time.”
Hosni tries to hand in her school assignments early so that she can focus on baking, but that’s not always easy.
Hosni stresses that the help she receives from her parents, especially her mother, is crucial to the survival of the bakery.
“She is such a big help. I think I would have definitely quit a long time ago if she wasn’t helping me,” Hosni says. “The volume that I have to do and the time crunch that I’m on, it's really hard for it to be a one-person job.” The bakery takes on 10 orders per week on average, but can vary during holidays.
Hosni says some of her friends help from time to time, but nothing compares to her mother’s contribution.
“Everything,” Daniella’s mother, Rosa Francalancia, jokes when asked what she does to help with the bakery. “It comes down to making sure she has enough products on hand to bake items, or if she needs extra supplies, boxes, down to the part of organizing her books.”
Francalancia also plays a role in keeping her daughter in check with her academics, and stresses that school is the priority. “The bakery right now will have to be second [...]. She just gets excited every once in a while, but that’s normal for any new business or entrepreneurs,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed many individuals to turn their hobbies or side hustles into businesses. According to Statistics Canada, 567,187 new businesses opened in 2020, which saw a 12 per cent increase in accommodation and food service businesses. Daniella’s Delights is just one of the 62,429 new businesses that opened their doors in June 2020, the month with the highest number of business openings over the last two years.
Daniella’s Delights has grown over its 16 months in business. The bakery is reaching its 800th order, a milestone of which Hosni is justifiably proud.
Hosni does not have any specific plans for the future of her bakery, aside from hoping it will expand organically, over time. For now, she's enjoying the moment, and the sweet smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.