Emirati entrepreneur on what sparked her interest in sugar-free, gluten-free baking

Ayesha Al Aidaroos talks about how to make baking a success



by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Thu 8 Sep 2022, 5:45 PM

From the world of numbers and figures, Ayesha Al Aidaroos made a journey into the world of healthy baking after the lessons learnt during the pandemic. The Emirati entrepreneur explains what sparked her interest in sugar-free and gluten-free baking and how she set about establishing her shop Sinless.

Growing up as the middle child in a family of five siblings, Al Aidaroos had the privilege to explore her interests. With a keen interest in swimming, she was ranked the fifth best swimmer in the UAE at the age of 16. At university after graduating with an accounting degree, she progressed to get her CFA. However, it was only during the Covid-19 pandemic that the Abu Dhabi resident hit upon an idea.

“I’m actually a person who enjoys being productive and during the lockdown, I connected with my business partner who is diabetic,” she said. “I’m also quite conscious of my food intake as I have some sensitivity to gluten as well. So, I hit upon the idea to start a food venture that caters to people with specific dietary requirements. We did our homework to study the market appetite for such products and we saw an opportunity there, and it just related to us. There was a gap in the market for people who want to enjoy all sorts of food but cannot, just like me and her.”

However, she admits that the thought of failure scared her. “In the beginning I wasn’t particularly scared,” she said. “However, as I went further into the process, it began to get quite daunting. While building it I realised the amount of effort it demands and the work it requires, the late nights, the research. F&B is not an easy venture, and it has become quite competitive but for us, our ambitions overpowered the fear. However, I cannot deny that having such big ambitions can be scary at times, because you’re aiming for the stars.”

The duo hired their team and started their first and main central kitchen in Dubai Silicon Oasis where they currently operate as a delivery-only hub. “For a startup business, it is not so easy to reach consumers fast without huge marketing budgets,” she said. “However, being a delivery-only model and partnering with platforms like Talabat allowed us to reach our audience, promote our brand, and expand our reach and online presence. Another great thing about such services in today’s highly digital world is that these platforms take away the overhead, operational work, and cost that is related to the delivery logistics. This freed up our funds and efforts so that we could focus solely on product development.”

Al Aidaroos concedes that the journey of building the business was far from easy. “There are so many obstacles that I faced,” she said. “And every day is still a challenge. This is the nature of entrepreneurship. From my experience, the most important thing is having the right team who share the same vision as you. At Sinless, we are excited, passionate and look forward for our future growth.”

Another challenge Al Aidaroos faced was differentiating her brand in a competitive market. “We insisted that we wanted to be unique and worked to create over a hundred sugar-free and gluten-free products without compromising on taste or quality,” she said. “Quality is key in our strategy even if it comes at a cost.”

Market fluctuation was another obstacle that the team faced while building the brand. “The retail market is volatile,” said Al Aidaroos. “We took on this issue by creating options for consumer to select from. We have over 100 items including bread, cake, frozen items, chocolates and jams so our customers had a huge variety to choose from. We also had to reach the consumer quickly and offer reliability and a good customer experience since we do not have a physical store. For this, our delivery partners helped us. Combining all these elements, we were able to slowly and steadily build our brand name and a loyal customer base.”

Al Aidaroos credits her family for all the support that they have offered her during this journey. “My sister is my biggest supporter and fan,” she said. “We call her Bambi, and her encouragement has been a great driving force for me. Also, my husband has pushed me and encouraged me to continue when I was close to giving up altogether. I also want to thank my core team, the Sinless family and my friends, for whom I’m very grateful for.”

Despite all the challenges, the Emirati entrepreneur is confident that the future is looking bright for her business.

“The UAE has estimated that as many as one in five people have the condition, with the number expected to double by 2040,” she said. “The demand for gluten-free products is high and is continuously increasing while the supply is still low in our region. According to research most people are sensitive to gluten but are not aware of it. I was curious to why all of a sudden gluten became a prominent issue, I found out that due to high consumption of harvest that is exposed to specific radiation that fasten the process. The radiation itself changed the gluten composition in the wheat and makes it harder for the body to digest.”

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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