This week we met Andinda Sarah, owner of AS Cakes for a talk about her progress in the Baking Industry since she decided to become a full-time baker from working at Multi-choice Uganda.
How long have you been in the Industry?
Five years now, I started in 2015.
What or Who inspired you to start baking?
I was inspired by Sarah Cakes. I have always fallen in love with her cakes. The man who trained me was Alex Kasheija. He was a baker though he left for a job he got in the United States.
How did you start the AS Cakes bakery?
We were going for a certain event and the driver (Alex Kasheija) happened to be the Cake provider. I travelled in the Cake Van from Kampala to Isingiro and the aroma was gripping. I kept on asking who had worked on the cake. When we arrived at the venue in the morning, he started setting up the cakes and I was amazed to find out such a young stubborn man was the baker. We exchanged contacts and I asked him to train me. I had no money for training by then, all I had were good marketing skills. So I struck a deal with Alex, I would help him market his cakes and my commission would be the training fees.
By then online marketing hadn’t yet picked up, I used facebook and friends, marketing as though I was the baker although I even had no idea what Vanilla was. I made a lot of sales! Learning took me one week. I really loved what I was doing and wanted to learn it very fast. They couldn’t allow me to work on a client’s cake that fast though. It so happened one Saturday, they had all gone for events and I was the only person left in the bakery and there happened to be an order going on that day, all that was needed was icing the cake. I volunteered to ice the cake and if it didn’t come out, I would pay for it. Fortunately, it came out perfectly, Alex was surprised and the client loved it.
Later on, he moved away from Kampala and I stayed alone in Ntinda and that is when I started. He supported me, gave me a few baking tins. I already had some clients from my marketing endeavour and I was good to go.
What were you doing before you got into baking?
I did a Bachelors Degree in Science Journalism and I was getting jobs on and off. By the time I started baking, I was working in a Real Estate company called Posh Properties Limited. Later on I joined Multi-choice Uganda. I was working day and baking in the evening.
Are baking full-time now?
Yes, I am a full-time baker. I also do training for people who would like to venture into baking and I also think about solving some problems in the baking Industry.
- I realised people ask for baking classes and don’t turn up. I asked some and they said the fee was much and they didn’t have enough money. That is the first time I had to call for group training whereby they would just buy baking ingredients and I would train them for free.
During that time, I think I trained 200 people in Kampala (2018)
- I also provide some kitchenware like aprons because they were scarce. I am actually known as the Apron-Lady.
- Above all I started my Order Book for bakers. It helps bakers to keep organised, manage their orders & all those nitty gritty things you’d like to write down when taking an order and also monitor your business growth. I was trying to solve a problem of order mismanagement in the baking industry & people have liked it so much. It’s moving on very well.
Where can potential clients find your products?
I am located at Ntinda Kigowa road. I bake and do everything from home. I didn’t buy the idea of renting an extra place. I feel comfortable and flexible at home.
What is your specialty?
I do moist soft cakes and all types of icing depending on the customer’s budget. Mostly birthdays, they take around 90% whereas Introductions and weddings are less. Though I can’t fail to get more than 20 weddings in a year.
What is your best selling product at the moment?
Most people like my Vanilla, Strawberry and Bubblegum flavoured cakes.
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been transportation. Some clients don’t want to pay delivery fee and some don’t know how to give directions to the premises in case one is to deliver. At times the weather is unpredictable. It might start raining when the cake is needed.
We are also failing to get reliable cake suppliers. Once you get used to one supplier & the next day you come and the flavors are done. I wish we could have reliable cake suppliers with reliable products. Most bakers are failing not because they don’t know what they are doing but because they aren’t using the right products.
How do you market yourself?
First and foremost, I start with friends and next I focus a lot on my social media platforms like twitter and Facebook. I also focus my marketing in WhatsApp groups. I also expose myself a lot in functions and gatherings. I make sure I can talk to one or two people about my cakes. I have a belief that if you want other people to buy your product, then give them a taste. So I always give samples.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
I don’t have fixed prices. I welcome every customer the way they come. I believe every person’s money has value. Instead of chasing away customers, I would rather give them what suits their budget.
I also give more than what a client expects. I am not limited on amount. I keep the quality and also the quantity.
I always want to challenge myself. I take on the hard orders.
Does your Job affect your General lifestyle?
Yes, Cakes need a lot of time, attention and care & that free life I used to have before, I
no-longer have it. Cakes come at unexpected times so you have to stay close to home so that you don’t let clients down. It’s rare to attend faraway parties or check on friends like I used to.
What has been the highlight of your career?
The best day was when I happened to get a good deal for NWSC for their End of Year Party. The budget was good, it wasn’t stressful. The cake came out perfect, the staff appreciated. It was one of the best cakes I have worked on.
Any advice for Novice Bakers?
They shouldn’t expect to be experts in one day. Baking needs practice. This isn’t like a theory class where you read and cram.
They also shouldn’t be discouraged. Just because someone didn’t like your cake doesn’t mean the next person won’t. They shouldn’t expect a lot from friends and family. Expect more from outside people than your close people.
They should also go for more training. Let them not think that what they have learnt is enough. Baking is very very wide especially the icing part. In training you also get to meet your fellow bakers and know what they are passing through.
The Novice bakers should also invest in marketing. You shouldn’t sit there with your product.
If you don’t expose yourself, no one will know that you are doing it.
They should also focus on attacking bigger challenges.
Who is your Inspiration in the Industry?
I am inspired a lot by Cake studio and Chef Williams of King of Cakes Bakery.
Any future plans you would like to share for AS Cakes?
AS Cakes would like to be more of trainings and venture into helping stay-home moms or school drop-outs into learning more skills. In-case they don’t have money for training, my dream is to help these ladies and young girls learn baking even if it is at a free cost.
Kudos to all the bakers that have really worked hard to make the baking Industry boom and also to remind whoever has a dream to go for baking that as long as you have a passion for baking, you can do it! Without forgetting that you can’t be a professional baker in one day, it requires patience and focus and persistence and also encourage anyone who is thinking of giving up. And also remind them that being a baker doesn’t mean the world is over, it’s actually just beginning because you’re making things come to life.
Some people think when you join baking you’re on the verge of being a loser. Baking is fun. It’s a profession, a career. So if you have the dream, keep up the spirit and keep the fire burning.