Extraordinaire 5: Cake Culture

Cakes are accessories that grace almost every event from weddings to baby showers,staff parties,birthdays and so much more.Failure to find the the right baker can be a deal breaker but when you find a good one,you are hooked for life.

Welcome with me Racheal Atieno to our No ordinary scribbles table as we chat about her love for cake and building Cake culture.

1.Who is Racheal Atieno?

Racheal is a 30 year old lady born and bred in Nairobi ,Kenya. She is an extrovert who loves people and thrives when helping people out. She loves travelling, baking and adventure . She studied Sociology and Psychology at the University of Nairobi and was in employment for about 5 years before going into baking full-time. She has worked with Huru international on a project that provided reusable sanitary pads for needy girls in the slum plus did HIV prevention training. Later on she worked with Earthview Geo-consultants Limited as a Social Impact Assessment officer then went into full-time baking in January 2017.

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Racheal Atieno handing over goodies to a client at Cake Fest

2. How did cake culture come into existence? Did you go to baking school?

While visiting my cousin some years back, her friend, a baker, had also visited and decided to randomly teach us how to bake using a charcoal stove and this is what triggered the baking passion in me. I went back home and kept experimenting and trying out different recipes, it was fun. There were disappointments but I kept at it, I’ll never forget putting a hole in my mother’s sufuria cause I had used wet sand to set up my charcoal oven. My desire has always been to be a stay at home mum and Cake culture was birthed out of an initial desire for a source of income while I stayed home to raise my children (And no I don’t have children yet). I had always baked as a hobby for family and friends and a friend of mine kept insisting on how I should turn it into a business and even helped out with the registration process which I did in July 2014. At this point I did not know much about business (never really pictured myself doing business), I had no idea of where to get baking supplies. I did not go to baking school so I learnt through google and particular bakers or bloggers who were so kind to help out. I had done various probono cakes for friends and family but my very first order came from my colleague who needed a birthday cake for the son who was turning two years (he is actually turning 5 this month) I was very nervous and not too sure of myself, it was the first time I was going to whip cream and decorate a birthday cake. It was a red velvet cake and looking back, it was more maroon than red and I’ve since changed the recipe I use to a much better one. I thank God for this particular client cause she believed in me and kept pushing me, she allowed me to experiment with her orders and was very forgiving and patient when at times it was not so perfec(thank you Lydia).I was in employment when I started the business, so I basically bought ingredients with the money the client paid and bought equipment with some of my money, I did not really need much to start. We already had an oven at home that I still use (I forever cherish those charcoal days, but a girl has got to upgrade😂😂😂)

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Racheal Atieno (extreme right) at Cake Fest this year

3. Describe the journey of your start up

It has been an interesting one, It started out prematurely, well at least from how I planned it. The initial stages were more of baking for fun but eventually I decided to do it for business which is also a story on its own especially the whole concept of pricing, separating the business supplies from the home supplies, being a home baker and all. I had a day job and that meant that any baking would be either at night or on weekends. I used my (boss’s) time during the day to read and research about baking, download recipes which I would then try out back at home. Some worked out while others just backfired. This kept going for over a year, trying out different recipes and perfecting as many as I could. Orders were coming in from mostly friends and workmates and this was a good thing for it provided me both a market but also a platform to get feedback about my cakes which greatly helped the learning process. Eventually I found it hard to balance as the orders kept increasing meaning sleepless nights were fast becoming a norm. At this time too, work at my day job had really slowed down, which should have been good but if the cake business was to grow to its fullest potential then it needed to become the number 1 priority. So I made up my mind to resign from my job at the end of the year (2016) and focus 100% on CAKE CULTURE moving forward, step of faith. In terms of initial capital, we didn’t need much for a start. We have an oven at home so that went a long way in cutting the costs. The rest of the things we bought as the money came in and as the need arose. With time and research i figured out where to get supplies at the best possible deals- a supermarket could be nearer but costlier. We started with what we had and the rest has been the business growing itself.

4. Share key lessons you have learnt along the way.

Researching & adapting. I research about everything from pricing,mixing to flavors. Adapting may take the form of reading ahead about planned power blackouts so that you either bake or prepare cream ahead of time with the end goal being that you’re not caught flatfooted by the blackout.

Resilience and determination.“With trial there will be error.” This means that you will spend hours and money preparing for a cake and then it will not come out as you expected. I have learnt not to give up. One of our signature cake flavors is a result of such resilience. It backfired so many times that I almost gave up but from the day I mastered it, I think it single handedly accounts for about 50% of our revenue. You can’t be too caught up in what didn’t work. Sometimes everything is right but halfway through the baking there is a power blackout. This means redo the whole process.

We have learnt to set values for our business. At CAKE CULTURE ,we value customer satisfaction and this means that we must deliver the best product to the client every time. This calls for more than following the recipe to the letter: the whole process has to be standardized and nothing left to imagination. Continued research is a must. We can’t be comfortable with just a few flavors even if we’re the best at them. What happens after a client has sampled all our cakes? There is need to keep adding new products. We also value our products and price them accordingly.

Friendships are critical because it took more than one person to build the business. The name ‘CAKE CULTURE’ was suggested by a friend and I loved it. Our (awesome) branding was done by another friend. My first orders were from friends. Some of our equipment like our awesome stand mixer was from a friend. My biggest source of support has been my family, not forgetting mum’s oven that I use to date. The start and growth of this business has been largely enabled by people. You could do it alone but you may not finish the race and assuredly you will be slower.

5.What are your current products?

We currently have a list of 19 Cake flavors with the orange/passion chiffon being a major favorite, we also have cupcakes, muffins, quick breads, granola bars, oatmeal cookies, brownies and toasted muesli cereal. We for sure keep adding to the list.

6. Achievements for cake culture

In the last two years we have participated in the Cake Festival organized by Edumed Trust as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility. It is an annual event that brings together various bakers who get the opportunity to offer their products for sampling with the aim of raising funds to educate bright needy students through high school.

7. What challenges did you face when you started out?

I struggled with pricing because I feared to lose clients but overtime the business was not making money despite having good products and a good number of orders. I finally allowed for the prices to be reviewed and this has positively reflected in our revenues.

8.Social media sites

For any inquiries and orders reach us on;

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cake-Culture-807865545967804/

Instagram: @cakecultureke

9. Future plans for cake culture.

We plan to open a bakery shop and increase our products to include everything pastry and dessert. From that shop we hope to open a few others, particularly looking forward for a branch in Kampala, my friends over there keep asking for one.

10.Parting tip.

Friendships are critical know who to listen to and who not to listen to. I believe God sends you the right people to help you through your process.Currently,at Cake Culture it’s myself as head Baker and Morris,the tech guy who also doubles as the delivery guy.

Racheal Kizza © 2017

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Extraodinaire 4:Jakin

Every one of us has been called to something in life-a purpose that our creator knows. Imagine my surprise when I heard that two of my friends actually make CAKE!!??? Mind you I had known the for a while and but didn`t know the cake bit until I tasted a cake that was heavenly : only to be told it was made by Jakin. I had to quickly sit down with Jakin founders for a chat.

1.Describe Jakin a few words.

Jakin : Jakin Confectionery International Ltd is a bakery run by two ladies,co-founders; Kirabo Josephine and Namasa Sheila. We have explored a number of flavors ranging from coconut, vanilla, strawberry,mint, bubble gum to pineapple and lemon.We desire to create an environment where we are not just about hardworking, being excellent, and so on but there’s an extra ingredient of caring, to create success.

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Sheila and Josephine. Photo credit: Josephine

2.When did Jakin start?

Jakin: Jakin Started in 2014 but as a part-time business or “side hustle.”We went full time in 2016 and took a step further and had it registered on the 4th of July, 2017.

3.What does “Jakin” mean ?

Jakin :JAKIN means He(God) Establishes.

4.Did you go to baking school or are you a google student?

Josephine: I learnt from google for a while and largely from friends who bake and I am currently enrolled in a baking school – Eunice`s Kitchen. So I can say I have been both.

Sheila: I learnt some baking from an institute and now I largely use the internet,making me a google student.

5. Is baking a long time passion for both of you or was it born out of necessity? What else are you passionate about?

Josephine: Well, I didn’t know I was passionate about cake, I knew I loooved food but not specifically cake and when I got on the discovery journey, cake was what I found. All I can say is, it was a hidden passion .I enjoy doing research work and working with KIN ministries.

Sheila: I have always loved eating cake, so when the opportunity came to start baking, I never hesitated. I love to read.

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Photo credit: Jakin confectionery

6.Achievements /milestones for Jakin.

  • The ability to give back to society(Social responsibility). This is one of our goals and we have been able to bring it into action by giving out 2 free cakes every two months to an orphanage where we celebrate and eat cake with these children.
  • Celebrate staff and their families. Much as we are about business, we are also about showing care to one another and we do this through things like; celebrating birthdays for staff and their families, having staff outings.
  • Skills empowerment which has been done through carrying out of trainings, some have been on a one on one basis ,others on a group basis.

7. Challenges you have faced since the startup phase.

  • Abrupt cake orders, where some clients call and want the cake that very day. This sometimes ,puts a strain on us especially, if we haven’t re-stocked yet. We don’t cancel because we want to go out of our way and be there for our clients.
  • Prices on the market for cake ingredients. Prices keep increasing left and right and yet clients expect you to be consistent with your price, some of them when you increase and give reasons why, they decide to refuse to order with you.
  • Transportation. Sometimes cakes get cracks because of how they were poorly transported, making the client complain.8.Share some lessons you have gained since the start of Jakin.
  • Customer Care is very essential. As a starting business, it’s always to remember this, because you don’t just want to deliver your product but also to leave a good impact. Some people sometimes come back because they were treated well.
  • Never forget to pay yourself. However small the payment might be, do it, it’s a way of appreciating and motivating yourself and your team.
  • Always keep records of all payments and expenses. This helps one know how the company is progressing.
  • Obey the law of the land. Legalise your company. Sometimes you won`t take on business deals because you are not registered. So to avoid this, one needs to legalize their business.

9.How has your social media presence impacted your business?

Well more people have gotten to know about the bakery like what we are about, why we do what we do, our products etc.

Connect with us on Facebook-Jakin Confectionery (https://www.facebook.com/JAKIN-Confectionery-1756382384674910/?hc_ref=ARSIOkY_I8Yf7tFNDn_1na6-_UUe7NOqUAbPbUjgVcgDMbUvOhNAMi_ZJnt4u2PD7i0&fref=nf)

We are Located Mutungo Zone 1,Along Kintu Road

10. Which people have inspired and mentored you since the start of the Jakin journey?

We don`t know everything and mentoring helps us harness a skill and master it. A number of ladies including ;Lynnet Birungi , Dr. Eunice Adubangu, Mrs. Sylvia and Mercelorna Ainembabazi.

Racheal Kizza © 2017