The Sharma sisters Bake Up a business

As amber light slips through thick oven glass, two grinning faces watch a loaf of bread rise. Hot sugar bubbles, and the scent of vanilla diffuses into the kitchen. After photographing their masterpiece, the Sharma sisters upload their treats onto their Instagram page, @bakeup.aa, inviting others to indulge through their screens and order their baked goods. For sophomore Anvita Sharma and her seven-year-old sister Avina Sharma, this is a weekly routine. Their home-based business, Bake Up, supplies the Bay Area with eggless muffins, cookies and their signature banana bread. 

The Sharmas founded their baking business in July 2021. During the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, they baked every afternoon for fun. Because of a household rule influenced by their religion, they choose not to bring eggs into their house. Instead, they supplement their baked goods with egg alternatives such as vinegar, baking powder and yogurt. Their best-selling product, banana bread, is customizable with a myriad of toppings: blueberries, chocolate chips and sugar-glazed pecans.

The idea to sell banana bread stems from sweet memories of making weekly trips to Starbucks with their mother to buy banana bread — their childhood-favorite treat.

“I was like, ‘Everyone has got to get this, it’s so good,’” Anvita Sharma said. 

Using their unique recipe, the sisters began baking banana bread as a gift when their family visited people’s houses. 

“We would always get positive feedback,” Anvita Sharma said. “So I thought that other people might also be interested in purchasing our bread.”

As their business continued growing, they started expanding their menu from banana bread into other baked goods. An early obstacle was witnessing three batches of banana bread muffins fail in the oven.

When my sister and I were looking at the oven and all our muffins completely sank, my heart just fell apart,” Anvita Sharma said. “It was a horrible day.”

They realized that they had accidentally left out the baking soda. After some revisions, the recipe is now Bake Up’s buttery best-seller. 

While their banana bread is inspired by fond memories, their business’ name — Bake Up —  comes from the sisters’ upbeat personalities. Looking back, Anvita Sharma said her relationship with her sister has become more mature since they began operating Bake Up, since they have to respect and incorporate both of their often contrasting opinions into their products. Despite the challenge of simultaneously managing school work and a business, they have persevered and grown Bake Up into a successful business that serves about 15 to 20 customers monthly.

“It was impacting my studying, but I found a way to prioritize and create a routine,” Anvita Sharma said. “It’s been a year, and we’ve been getting through the challenges, so hopefully this year will be a lot better.”

Anvita is very motivated. I like that she has eggless items, so it’s accessible for everyone.

— Rhea Soni

In anticipation of the future, Anvita Sharma hopes to experiment with more baked goods, expand her customer base nationally and earn some frequent customers. 

“Anvita is very motivated,” said sophomore Rhea Soni, one of Bake Up’s early customers. “I like that she has eggless items, so it’s accessible for everyone. The bread was also really good, so I would go back to buy more.”