Sister, sister: Pastel Cakes founders and Mum duo, Maha & Nada Safa
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Twin mums and the duo behind Pastel Cakes, Maha and Nada Safa, grew up in the UAE. Here they discuss what it’s like to own a bakery and raise children in the city they call home
“Our parents are both from Lebanon, but we call Dubai home. We were both born and raised here and love the opportunities this country has allowed us to pursue. Though we were both born here, we embrace our Lebanese roots and draw inspiration from our backgrounds within our baking,” Maha and Nada Safa tell me as we gather at Nada’s home in Green Community. The children have just come home from school, and with self-taught bakers as mums, there’s always a treat around.
The duo learned how to bake by constantly watching their mother in the kitchen. “Eventually we started to bake alongside her to learn all her tips and tricks. Every weekend, our mother would bake a different kind of cake – she would let us help her, and as we grew older, Maha started perfecting the recipes and baking and I grew an eye for detail, taking care of the overall aesthetic,” says Nada, mum Joy Ballout (4) and Ryan Ballout (7). The twins collectively have backgrounds in Business Administration, Marketing, and the Culinary Arts.
While the mums love baking, their most integral role in life is being mothers. “It’s the most rewarding role in life, next to being Co-Founding twins! When the kids are in school, we are busy managing the business and when they come home, our roles switch to mum,” says Maha, mum to Shadi Al Masri (7).
Pastel Cakes is a labour of their love. It launched in 2016 and was conceptualized on their journey through motherhood and shared passion for baking. “We decided to join forces and become ‘baking partners-in-crime.’ Since then, we have saw great success, now delivering to over four thousand customers per month. We have no plans of slowing down anytime soon,” the twins tell me. For those who have just been introduced to the bakery, they accommodate to almost every dietary need; vegan, keto, gluten-free, you name it! The inspiration behind the café began when they were organizing their children’s birthday parties. “Instead of the traditional way of planning, we realized that we had pushed everything aside, focused on the cake, and planned the rest accordingly. Ever since then, we were obsessed!” explains the twins.
As we chat, I wonder if the twins ever get mixed up – they are identical after all! “
Yes, a lot actually! It’s funny when people we don’t know come to us and talk and then they realise it’s the other twin they know,” says Nada. Every day brings a new adventure, but the twins tell me they adhere by a set routine during the week. Like any family, it’s getting the kids up and ready, kids school drop offs, fit in a workout and then it’s all about Pastel Cakes until the evening, when they head home to spend time with the kids.
“Finding that work-life balance, for the both of us, is so important. We both make sure that we schedule all of our meetings during the day when our kids are at school. That way, we can spend the rest of the day with them and have our special time together when we’ve all worked hard at the end of the day,” says Maha.
Juggling motherhood and business is something that a lot of mothers are faced with. The twins feel that every mother is different and needs to discover what uniquely works for them and their family. “For us both, we understand that having your own business means you’re constantly working. However, our kids are always our number one priority and we have learned to manage our time and the best way to do it is through a routine,” they tell me.
The one thing that they agree they have both changed on since becoming mothers, is their perspectives on life. They have learned to enjoy life through their curious eyes and the importance of rising to any occasion. Being mothers gave them an excuse to stay young forever through their experience of childhood, while enjoying a love beyond measure.
As the children play and pose for pictures, I try to find out any handy mummy tricks for our readers. The twins laugh and tell me “you can get anything done through storytelling and play. We use this trick with our kids, and it works most of the time.” As for advice for other mums, Maha and Nada believe in trusting their instincts. “Never compare yourself to other mums. Just be the best mother to your child as you can be. For us, it’s quite simple. During meltdowns, a simple hug can change everything,” they tell me while goofing around with the kids.