AFolake Omotehinwa, a graduate of English Language from Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos State and an advertising executive who developed interest in baking after she was posted to the cafe in her church. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, the Chief Executive Officer of Flaykes Delight, speaks on why she does not use preservatives for her cakes and breads. Excerpts.
Why did you decide to go into this line of business?
I just needed something that would keep me near my children. As a worker in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), I was posted to the cafe to be selling snacks. At the cafe, I was bringing in vendors to supply snacks which I sell. Later on, I felt it was something I could do so, I went to learn how to bake. I was working in an advertising company and during my leave, I went to learn. Since then I have been baking. After some time, I stopped working in the advertising agency and now that my children are grown-ups, I have more time for the business.
How has the journey into entrepreneurship been so far?
It has been hectic. To be an entrepreneur in Nigeria is not easy, especially for somebody like me who has to take care of the children and do the business at the same time. Financially, entrepreneurs are not encouraged by the interest rates on loans. That means you have to depend on yourself and family members to grow the business. I have been doing it alone, no loans, nothing. After some time, I started going for courses to help myself. There was one I did last year that opened my eyes to the fact that I was just doing the business as a hobby and not a business. I learnt so much from the management course which I have been putting to use in my business in order to do the business in a profitable way. Apart from baking, I train young people especially school leavers the art of cake making. I also send them to companies that sell cake accessories for advanced training. So, as I do my business and make money out of it, I also empower people as well. God has been keeping me in this business despite the challenges.
What are the challenges you face in this line of business?
The cost of production is very high. In Nigeria, we don’t produce butter, flour and other ingredients that we use. They are imported and you know that the exchange rate is very high so the cost of production is really high right now. When I started baking if you sell a cake for N10,000 you can be sure of making N5,000 profit. Now, you can hardly make N2,000, in fact, if you are not careful, you won’t make up to N1,000 and you still have to pay overhead, pay rent, staff salary and so on. If the cost of production can go down, more people will make more money in this business and employ more staff.
You are in a competitive business, what is your unique selling point?
My main unique selling point is that my cakes are fresh and I don’t use preservatives. So, it is healthy, it is cancer-free as there is no preservatives at all. You get it fresh, I don’t bake down, I bake based on order. If you give me 24 hours notice, you will get your cake.
For how long can your cakes stay without getting spoilt since they don’t have preservatives?
All my cakes and snacks can stay for five days outside the fridge. My bread too can spend five days. That is why we don’t supply them to supermarkets so that they don’t spoil. We usually sell the breads to individuals.
Most people, especially women prefer to go into cake making, and not bread making. what has been your experience in that regard?
Bread making is more challenging because if you don’t make it in volume you won’t make profit. You can’t be doing it in small quantity. For instance, you can’t do one today, two tomorrow, it is not profitable like that. But if you make it in volume you will make profit because everybody eats bread, whether it is flour or wheat bread. We bake bread everyday. We don’t use preservatives in them as well.
How do you get inspiration for your designs?
What I do is that I ask the customers what they like and work around it. I also look at people’s personality, passion and hobby and use them to make cakes that suit them. If you are a fashionista, what I will do will be related to fashion. I also like working with colours.
How has technology enhanced your work?
Social media especially Facebook has really helped my business a lot. I get orders from clients based abroad who want to come home for their parties. Also, when I post the pictures of my cake on Instagram, people who like them also place their orders. Technology itself has made the art of cake making easier. For instance, with fondant, there is a machine that will roll it for you that you won’t have to do it manually.
Do you love cooking as well?
I don’t think I like cooking but I love baking. That is the irony of life. I am not a food person. I think I like cake making because of the creative aspect of it. I enjoy being able to work on a cake and make it look beautiful. I think that is the aspect I really like but you can’t go and do craft without baking. So I have to bake first. I am more of a creative person. I love moulding, I like designing the cake more.