This week we got a chance to interact Pius Kyomukama, Proprietor of Cake n Cakey Uganda. We had a chat about the genesis of the Enterprise and the secrets behind it’s ‘sweet and beautiful’ success. Enjoy!
When did you start baking & what preceded?
Commercially, that was 2016 & am going strong and faithfully, although I had learnt baking from way back before that I was doing a lot of other things.
So how did Cake n’Cakey start?
I just woke up one day & told myself I will not start tomorrow, NO! I have to start today. So I started with registrations, I even got a very small oven just to make sure that I keep my momentum because each time you postpone it to tomorrow for some reason you keep on adding another tomorrow.
Perhaps it was long overdue because a lot of people had been waiting for it to get commercial. The baking was about giving friends and relatives and I was always asked when it would be a business. Immediately we started, orders started coming in & I was no-longer giving out free services. It never slowed down since then it kept on picking on. The first clients were strangers, out of the blue you are given a wedding cake order. They send the money and you only meet on the wedding day.
Humble beginnings. How big is Cake n Cakey now?
We keep it slow because we are basically a specialized retail model & because it’s customized.
What stands out with Cake n Cakey?
One of our core principles is that we never repeat a design! Every design we give you is unique to you. What that entails is that I must give 100% attention to that piece. With such a model, it doesn’t work like the others where you have to reproduce the same design for multiple orders. This is an order based where we understand the client and make an ‘edible art piece’ unique to the client. So that attention to detail means you cannot make 160 cakes a day. We touch every bit and put everything together and that’s the nature of our model.
You are a yardstick of quality. Are your prices expensive?
Expensive is a relative word. If something is expensive, then it simply means that the value being offered isn’t in equal measures with what one is willing to spend. I do appreciate my price as compared to the market, is high. I don’t call it expensive because I aim at over delivering meaning whatever I have been asked for, I would give you even more than that. That is my perception. You could probably say according to the price ratio in the market, it’s generally high but I wouldn’t term it as expensive.
The feedback we would get like at the weddings was overwhelming. We deliver our cakes at parties and serve also and we could also get tips above the agreed price of the cake. To me that’s an indicator, I delivered & why I wouldn’t say expensive.
I don’t know if I can get the time and pass by Spear Motors and check on the prices. They could be around UGX400m and I’ll leave, probably return the next year after getting my act together.
Any memorable moments so far?
There has been quite a number of those moments where you look back & ask yourself how you were able to pull that off and of course it’s been quite a number of them. You know when someone paid you and they still call to thank you endlessly, it’s so touching! At times even to the extent of forwarding you with so much passion. It pushes me so hard! I could go sleepless nights. You always feel the pressure to do better.
I could say 99.9% of our clients don’t give us the designs to make. They’ll tell you to do something amazing and still that percentage is wowed. To me it’s that feeling of trusting yourself and the client is wondering how did he think this out loud!
There are also those moments when you take it to the client & they prefer not to cut it! It would rather be here. They get a bit emotional and cry because of what it communicates. Whatever my client wants to communicate to the people they are hosting, the message should be clear. This is edible art but the communication should speak so it becomes memorable!
How has your Educational Background helped you so far?
I have a background in Environment Management, Construction Management. I am a professional in super crafting and different forms of sugar. Actually 90% of the sugar crafting is acquired the remaining 10% is acquired at a mastering level. What happens in crafts is you come up with a different concept but there are those who have majored in them that now will give you the Dos & Don’ts about them and a few other technicalities. That’s the 10% we can offer. We have moved to several places like South America and South Africa. They have a particular type of sugar. You can be very good but you must always nurture your talent, you need to go to a school and be mentored if commercial. You need that mentor to make that talent understand business
What about the Challenges in the Industry?
It’s this generation and not more than the past years that the Industry has recognized this as a profession. It’s now that there are people who ask and interact with that someone can know that I have a Degree in Sugar Crafts.
The fact that still rules majority minds is that these are vocational jobs only failures would go to. If you’re a P.7 girl who got pregnant in the village, then they will tell you to join baking or if your brother dropped out of school, he will most probably hear the phrase ‘Genda Ofumbe’ ‘(Go and cook)’. I am so proud that majority of the people we have mentored are graduates in different fields like doctors, lawyers, engineers, surveyors. When I am really training those I have all the energy because that is one way for us to break that stereotype. And right now when everyone is struggling with this unemployment crisis, when you bake you don’t have to hustle like you were when dormant. The perception of the Industry has to change.
To the clients out there, once in a while of course, who ask ‘Eggs and Flour and you ask for all that?’, There’s a lot more that goes in!
What advice would you recommend for the Novice Baker today in the Industry?
I encourage them to balance growth and development. Grow as you develop! Most cases they tend to go to one side of the two and it can be disastrous! Some think that the fact that you can afford the oven & mixer, then it’s accomplishable which I don’t really believe in. As you think of purchasing your machinery & equipment, I want to encourage you to go to school as well and school is in different forms; there are One day classes or Two day classes, Classes of many, One on One classes. You must be mentored! This is a field that needs mentorship. Some days you’ll wake up and want to throw away the apron!
I know most of them you talk to and they tell you ‘I don’t need to pay for a class at Uganda Trimmings’ – because I go to YouTube and learn by myself. I want to promise you THAT IS A LIE. You need physical mentorship because these are practical skills. Seek knowledge and mentorship.
2. Be Headstrong
I also would like to debunk that myth that you require a million things to do good work. I think the only thing you need to do good work is a sober mind, the mind is EAGER to perform. That’s very important. You could have all the tools but if your mind can’t stand by you, then your work is very ordinary.
3. Forget about the Money
It’s easy for someone to join the Industry with dreams of outshining those who have been there for 30years, but the moment you approach it with an attitude of competition, you fail! You must look at your business on your own and appreciate that it will walk. Competition pushes you to underperform for one reason, you tend to focus on earning from orders and forget the quality you pack. It is about diligence and service, so many times we have had to spend more on an order at the start. The money should be focused on growing the business and the rest probably on savings.
4. Target Audience
I also think some people don’t know who they are baking for! If you don’t know who you are baking for then you are baking for nobody. Ask yourself who is your targeted client and overtime you’ll get to know what to buy over time. If anybody is not appreciating your services, chances are high that that is a wrong client for you. Your client can tolerate hand cut boards at the beginning but there comes a time they’ll want you to stroll down to Uganda Trimmings and buy those beautiful already made ones. Your clients monitor your growth because they are the ones paying you! If you aren’t improving, your real clients will notice.
A short example is that guy who sells those small cakes to shops at UGX500. He understands his market very well. If you come and say I am expensive, deep down I already know that you may-not be my targeted client.
Any Inspirations in the Industry?
You’d be surprised to know for me to be inspired, it doesn’t have to be business clout or anything about cake. Some have been my students but it’s their personality or character that make me feel energized. I get encouraged by people with a lot of zeal. They have the thirst to learn, they want to get better. They are always consulting about their mishaps. The inspiration for me doesn’t really come from the cakes themselves but in the baker’s temperament.
I am rarely a cake critique, I tend to think however the given design and societal judgement it may arouse, there is a story that person was communicating and I am not in their mind (targeted client).
Doing sharp edges on a cake and presenting it neatly isn’t enough, in fact Attitude is more important. I can’t mention any one person the list is quite endless. I tend to learn from people so much
Thank you so much
Thank you as well. I could tell this wasn’t an interrogation like other Interviews I have participated in. Am glad it was like this because I am an expressive person.
Please Support and Visit Cake n Cakely on:
Phone: 0782 672167