Women of Charlottesville

Highlighting the unique and diverse amazing women of Charlottesville, VA.

Anita Gupta

This is Anita. She owns and operates Maliha Creations–a cake making/decorating business here in Charlottesville. A true artist–Anita creates both stunning and delicious cakes for special occasions of all sorts. It was a pleasure to work with her and capture her in her element. Though her business is clearly a huge passion in her life, it was very clear to see that her family is her first priority and the reason she does what she does. It was very obvious during our shoot that they share a very strong bond! Due to the current situation of Covid-19, we moved the kitchen outside to capture these shots. As you can imagine, with Covid-19, as with many other small businesses, things are a challenge right now for Anita. Events are getting cancelled and postponed–especially weddings. Anita creatively has risen to the challenge with adorable cake kits for kids to make and decorate at home. What a fun and delicious project! She is also continuing to make and deliver cakes for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and graduation. If you are in need of a yummy and beautiful cake–Anita has your back! Enjoy her interview!

Anita, please tell us a little bit about yourself . . . I am the Chief Baking Officer and Chief Decorating Officer behind Maliha Creations, a boutique bakery serving Central VA clients for over 13 years. My background is in Public Health and I was working in the DC area on clinical trials before I came to Charlottesville. In the evenings, I completed a pastry arts program at the renowned L’academie de Cuisine. My husband and I moved here in 2002 for him to attend Darden for his MBA and I found it difficult to find a job in my field for a short two year stint. As luck would have it, we found out we were expecting while he was a student and after he completed his MBA, we decided to stay in Charlottesville for him to start a business. In that time, I was busy with being mom. We had another baby girl in 2005 and I started making birthday cakes for fun. Before long, I started having wedding planners call me to see if I could do wedding cakes for their clients. I took that as a sign to take a leap and went through all the hoops to start a business. The Charlottesville area has become one of the most desirable destinations for weddings in the US and I have thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of this amazing industry. I always knew my friendors (vendor friends) were amazing, but watching our community come together in the midst of this pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring. Prior to 2020, we would create from 70-90 wedding and event cakes every year. This year it may look a lot different, but I have seen so many of my fellow vendors (including myself) pivot in ways to ensure that the wedding scene in Charlottesville, will survive and thrive after this is over.

us: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

her: Every morning it’s the same. A cup of cream with a dash of coffee.

us: Does pineapple belong on pizza?

her: Not for me, but I love a lot of other things on my pizza! Every Friday night is pizza night in my house!

us: Do you sleep in your socks?

her: No!! Do people actually do this?

us: What’s your go-to midnight snack?

her: Midnight? I can’t stay up that late!

us: Mountains or beach?

her: Beach 100%…In my next life, I want to be a mermaid.

us: Current favorite song?

her: Anything by Lizzo…we got a Peloton to keep us in shape during the quarantine and there is a Lizzo ride and listening to her while I struggle on the bike is the motivation I need to remind myself I am 100% that bi&*ch!

Anita in action!

us: Salty or sweet?

her: You would think sweet in my line of work, but I am a salty sweet girl. I add salt to every-single-one of my baked goods. They just taste flat without the addition of salt.

us: Pet peeve?

her: People chewing . . . if I am eating alongside them, I don’t notice–but with everyone home now and eating in between zoom meetings and classes, it can make me want to pull my hair out!

us: Room entrance song:

her: It would definitely be an Indian song . . . from Bollywood. Probably “Desi Girl”!

us: Favorite place you’ve traveled to?

her: Thailand and India. I love the food, the people, the colorful beauty. For us when we travel, it’s mostly about the eating regional cuisines.

us: What’s your favorite room in your house?

her: My kitchen/family room area. It’s where everyone gathers. Before the quarantine, it would be filled with the kids friends . . . eating, making tiktoks, watching movies. We still spend a lot of time here, and I am grateful for it.

us: Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

her: Oh, how to choose! I have so many. I am the product of influential women on a daily basis! Starting with my mom, who taught me to always keep my mouth shut and not gossip, even if I felt unfairly targeted, because the truth always comes out. I have a group of cousins that I chat with almost daily via text messages…it is a “sister” chat group where we can talk about pretty much anything without judgement. I am so grateful for them. And lastly, I am surrounded by amazing women friends . . .doctors, business owners, stay at home moms, teachers, writers, all unique and influential in my life in so many ways. I feel so blessed to have the perfect mix of women to turn to in moments of joy and despair!

us: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

her: Probably starting my business against the stigma that came with it. I had a lot of people question why I would throw away my career or my advanced degree. I knew from the moment I was pregnant with my first daughter that I wanted to stay at home and this offered me the opportunity to be with my children while cultivating a creative outlet and contributing to my family finances.

Anita with her lovely girls.

us: If you could give your younger self a single piece of advice, what would it be?

her: It’s the same advice I would give myself now– live in the moment. Don’t get so bogged down in what the future holds or what will happen tomorrow. Worrying gets you nowhere.

us: Can you tell us about a challenge that you’ve overcome?

her: A few years ago, a business that my husband was working on, for many years, started to have trouble and I knew the end was near. It was a challenging time for our family, but I was so proud that my little business was able to keep our family going during that difficult season.

Some examples of Anita’s cake creations!

us: Favorite Quote?

her: During these times, I think we all have struggled with not being grateful. It is something I need to remind myself of daily. “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” –Epicurus

us: Where do you find your inspiration?

her: Pretty much everywhere! I can find it in an invitation, a bedspread, a beautiful piece of clothing. I love it when clients allow me to take risks. Some of my most favorite work comes from clients who tell me to just “do your thang!”

us: Any funny or embarrassing nicknames we should know about?

her: None that I know of.

us: Any hidden talents we should know about?

her: Hmmm, my kids say I am really good at gift giving . . . I usually like them to have a theme and I will build a gift around that theme. A pizza night gift, for instance, will include an engraved pizza wheel, rolling pin, apron and then I tuck in fresh things like sauce and fresh tomatoes and basil to complete the look!

us: What are you most thankful for?

her: Super cliché, but of course my family. During this time, I am especially thankful for food. My eyes continue to be opened about the food insecurity in America. I am thankful for my parents, as well. They have given us support in most every area of our life.

Anita with her family

us: What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?

her: When we first moved to Charlottesville, I worried that we wouldn’t find our tribe. Our friends are the best part of Charlottesville. The second best part is that I get to work AND play at some of the most beautiful places on earth. Every weekend we can hit a spectacular local vineyard after I deliver a cake to it!

Quarantine Specific Additions:

us: Tell us one lesson you’ve learned during your quarantine experience?

her: We can get along with a lot less than we have ever thought. Yes, it is isolating. Yes, we want to support small business. But in the past when we needed something, we would just hop into the car and go to pick it up. We have learned to make substitutions or just do without!

us: Favorite show to binge watch?

her: Just finished “Never Have I Ever” . . . I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to have representation in media! So glad my kids were able to enjoy a show with an Indian lead. I am also bingeing “Schitt’s Creek” and it really lightens the mood!

us: Favorite local business to support during quarantine?

her: Mostly restaurants that are offering curbside pickup . . . we have enjoyed Now and Zen sushi, Al Carbon tacos, gelato from Splendora’s, strawberry picking from Critzer’s, bbq from BBQ Exchange, wine from local vineyards (hooray for curbside pickup!) and lots of Bodo’s drive thru! We keep hoping some of our favorites will open back up!

us: Have you taken on new hobbies or discovered a new talent during this time indoors?

her: We have been cooking a lot together as a family. We started a Chopped challenge–and each
week a family member is the judge and prepares our basket with the mystery ingredients. While
everything we have made has not been a home run, it has forced us to be more creative, when we can’t just run to the store for a missing ingredient!

us: What one thing you can’t live without right now?

her: I’ve been happy the liquor store has stayed open. My husband makes the best margaritas ;).

Thank you for sharing with us, Anita!