Courtesy of Sana Kharbanda
When Weinberg juniors Sana Kharbanda and Pranavi Ahuja met at Wildcat Welcome, they never could have imagined they would become business partners.
The two became close friends and lived together in Allison Hall their sophomore year. When they both had to move home to Delhi, India due to the pandemic, Ahuja started to bake cupcakes. And Kharbanda had an idea.
“It was super cute, because she would send me some (cupcakes) to my house, and they were amazing,” Kharbanda said. “And I was like, we should literally go back to Evanston and sell these.”
After moving into an off-campus apartment this fall, the duo launched Whipped Evanston, a custom cake and cupcake business that takes orders entirely from their Instagram account, @whipped_evanston.
Whipped takes orders through a Google Form linked in their Instagram bio, where customers can choose from either a chocolate or vanilla base (with or without Nutella filling). Then, there is an option to select one of six buttercream frosting flavors. All orders can be hand-delivered for a small fee.
The cupcakes come six to a box, but just one is quite filling without being too dense or heavy. And even after traveling through the freezing Evanston weather, the cupcakes arrive in perfect condition — and taste incredible.
“We decided to do it as a fun project, just the two of us, because we have a kitchen in our apartment that we can use,” Kharbanda said. “But once we started, people actually loved the cupcakes. So that was super encouraging, and then we kind of just went from there.”
Kharbanda said she and her friends had noticed a lack of bakeries in Evanston, especially ones that offered cupcakes or cakes for special occasions. She hopes she and Ahuja can fill that gap.
The most impressive aspect of Whipped is how customizable all their treats are. Recently, they made a Lakers-themed cake for a special order. In addition to being able to create occasion-specific cake toppers, Kharbanda and Ahuja are flexible about decorating and go out of their way to make their cakes and cupcakes unique.
In terms of dividing labor, Kharbanda said Ahuja handles most of the baking while she runs the business side. But ever since overly-chunky Oreos got stuck in a piping bag, Kharbanda’s job has also included properly crushing the cookies.
“It’s all about improvising and not being kind of held back by mistakes,” she said.
Whipped Evanston plans to one day expand, possibly through collaborations with other student businesses or making more than just cake-based desserts. Recently, they hosted a Valentine’s Day fundraiser with Circle of Women Northwestern and donated proceeds to an organization that increases access to girls’ education in Haiti.
Even with the hype Whipped has received after only being in operation for just over a month, Kharbanda emphasized that she and Ahuja are really just two college students trying to provide the tasty baked goods selection they saw lacking in the area.
“It’s not one of those mass-baked Whole Foods kind of things,” she said. “We actually put in a lot of time making every box and make sure that every box is up to standard. It feels like it’s made with a lot of love. And that might be really cringy or cheesy, but I guess that’s something that’s unique to us.”
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