Baking Her Way to Sweet Success
…It Ain’t a Piece of Cake!
Name: Devorah Altman
Originally from: West Hempstead, NY
Made Aliyah: 2012
Lives in: Beit Shemesh
Job: Owner of Kosher Cakery
Baking cakes may sound easy, but wait until you see the creations of Devorah Altman, and you will think twice! Devorah transformed her home in Bet Shemesh into “The Kosher Cakery,” a bakery that provides customized cakes, cupcakes and cookies to people across Israel. Think “Ace of Cakes” with a Middle Eastern twist– The Kosher Cakery bakes up people’s dreams with delicious cakes, frostings, and elaborate decorations!
A former first grade teacher, Devorah decided to formally develop a long loved hobby, and turn it into a full-fledged business in Israel. “Anywhere you are in the world, you have to put effort into starting a business,” says Altman, “It doesn’t just fall into your lap!” This determination, and hard-working attitude has driven her to create a well researched, properly structured, and successful small business.
I spoke to Devorah to hear more about her recipe for sweet success…
What did you do before moving to Israel?
I was a first grade teacher.
How did you find your job?
The first time I made a cake, I was twelve years old! I always made cakes for my kids’ birthdays. I had no training, but it was always a hobby and a lot of fun. After hurting my knee (I was an avid figure skater!) I decided to further delve into my other hobby, and take some cake decorating classes. After a few classes, I started making cakes that people wanted to buy!
When I decided that we would make Aliyah, I knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher, and people told me that I should make this cake hobby a real business. I realized that there was a market for completely customized and personal cakes, especially for my friends in the U.S to send to their loved ones in Israel.
In preparation, I spent the two years leading up to my Aliyah in the Kosher Culinary Institute in Brooklyn learning technique and skill. I also learned alongside Gitti Allman of “Decorate my Cake NY,” in addition to private pastry chefs.
From the business side, I hired someone to make my website, and did seminars on social media.
Upon my Aliyah in August, my website and social media went live, and before I knew it, I had twenty orders for Rosh Hashanah! It was a little overwhelming!
What do you do now?
I create highly decorated cake and cookies. Half of my clients are outside of Israel, sending cakes to family, friends, and loved ones in Israel. The other half of my clients is people mainly living in Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem.
I am not a commercial, stop-in style bakery, rather, boutique and specialized. I create custom cakes for bar/bat mitzvahs, sheva brachot, birthdays, etc. Many of my cakes are ordered by people around the world who want to feel a connection to the simcha, and the people they love.
What do you love most about your job?
My entire life is spent in smachot! I really feel like I’m part of people’s celebrations. I give my clients that connection, and send something that is really delicious.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Delivering the cakes!
How important is Hebrew to the field?
It is important, but less so than other jobs. My Hebrew has gotten better, especially my baking vocabulary.
Did you do any small business training?
I took all the Mati classes and consultations, social media classes, and NefeshB’Nefesh small business owner classes. I found an accountant and learned to ask a lot of questions!
Is there potential for good earnings in the baking industry?
Definitely, especially in my specific niche market of sending cakes from people overseas to loved ones in Israel. I can sometimes make thirty-five cakes a week.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a small business in Israel?
If you want to open a business in this specific field, the most important thing is to go slow. In the food industry, 90% of the establishments that open in the first year are not successful, anywhere in the world-not specifically in Israel.
Don’t have preconceived notions of how your business will be. Israel will not adapt to you- it works differently from where you come from. Take classes and talk to people who have built businesses. Learn some Hebrew and know the words of your field. Become friendly with the people in your field. I have found that everyone wants to help each other out. There are plenty of networking groups and classes that one can utilize in order to build bonds and develop opportunities.
How do you feel about living in Israel?
I love living in Israel. Everyone really cares about the next person. The trust and good will that you see between one-another here blows my mind!
I love that I can hop on a bus and be in Jerusalem, not a plane 6000 miles away!