Recently nominated in three different categories by the KBIA (Kenya Bakers Industry
Association), Lynn MBanga aka The Bakerwoman spoke to us about her bakery’s progress and her journey so far. Enjoy!
How long have you been in the Industry?
For close to four years. I started officially in 2017
What or Who inspired you to start baking?
I can’t say that I was inspired by anyone. It was something I fell into. I was baking for home, mostly cookies and also for other family members away from home. It just so happened that it was my nephew’s & niece’s Nanny’s birthday and they weren’t happy that their Dad didn’t buy her a cake, so I baked one, iced it and decorated it and everyone loved it. I then started researching on recipes, professional baking and started practicing for about three to four months before I sold my first cake & that is how it began.
Where were you practicing from?
I didn’t learn from anyone. I visited a few bakeries that were teaching & looked at some of their courses. At the time, there were few schools and they didn’t offer the course I wanted. So I got a book on professional baking and just went with that and of course over the years I have been obtaining more books on professional baking & cake decorating also with the help of online resources like YouTube and Google. The others I have been practicing from seeing pictures.
What were you doing before you got into baking?
I had just left a job and a business of mine and since I had some free time, I thought I could add something else (baking) to it. The business was called Camel designs, we were doing personalized gift baskets, hand-made wedding invitations, cards and also a little bit of Interior design for homes as well as events decoration.
How did The Bakerwoman come about?
At the time when I started baking, I didn’t have a name. I just started coming up with all sorts of names but nothing was working, it all seemed cliché, it was too out there already like Cakes by Lynn, Lynn-bakes. It just so happened that I landed on a prayer like poem called The Baker Woman attributed to the Virgin Mary. I was really moved by it because Christ is the bread and that’s how we got the name. We try to base our business generally around the Christian kind of feel and how it was like for this woman to take care of her family amidst the pressure.
What is your specialty?
Initially when I started I like the children’s cakes but then I kept on developing my crafts. I already had this love for flowers & wanted to adopt more flower making and I came to find my appreciation for wedding cakes. They were more exquisite & sophisticated and generally there was a larger audience to please and that’s I’d love my niche to be, just wedding cakes! But of course we still do novelty cakes, we wanted to be a business that doesn’t copy cakes; even when a client comes in with a picture, we tell them we cannot copy cakes but we can take your vision and create something that is original from us.
Would you say your signature brand are the Flower designs?
Yes, definitely I have been working on that and I want it to be our signature look. I think right now most of my study is in flowers and the textures as well
What is your best selling product at the moment?
All the chocolate cakes!
What has been the highlight of your career?
I think it was when I was nominated for the KBIA in different categories but I think the Corona
Virus disrupted them. I was so shocked to see the groups they had placed like Best Tasting Cake, Best Flower art. I thought I was still small because sometimes I post in Cake Shop UG and get comments like who is this Bakerwoman, I haven’t heard of her.
How do you market yourself?
Of course we use social media then also word of mouth. We also put so much into our product so that it sells itself without us having to say or do anything. We put so much into our product both in the inside and the outside so that when it gets out of our bakery, it’s selling itself without words. We know that social media may probably not reach a lot of people but by putting so much in our product, it will sell us. Sometimes you find these complicated people on Facebook who are there to just put you down so I limit posting in other groups, I usually post on our page and also our Instagram page and also recommendations from clients.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Am so devoted to originality. I want you to see my cake and just know that is from The Bakerwoman. Generally, I aim for uniqueness; To create something that someone else won’t even understand how you created it. We are also devoted to freedom; to create anything which becomes art for us and then we aren’t afraid to do something that is out of the box. Though we try some designs and people don’t appreciate them as much especially with the textures. We are still taking time for people to adjust to them
Where can potential clients find your products?
We are a home-based business located in Munyonyo towards the landing site in Mulungu just opposite Hot Spa. We prefer for people to call us for orders because if you come here, you aren’t going to find a display of cakes. It’s better for you to call for consultation and if it’s a wedding, we can prepare for you the flavors you want and you come for a tasting here. If you can’t make it, we can send the flavors to you so you can try them out wherever you are and you get back to us. Of course the tasting is at a fee.
What is your biggest challenge?
There are so many challenges. I think my biggest is I have failed to find completely good staff. You find someone with a bad character or who doesn’t have your dream at heart. I do most of the decoration so I have been getting people for the baking area and sometimes I end up having to repeat a cake because the person baked it poorly and you’ve trained them enough times.
The second is equipment. We are still small and there’s a lot of equipment missing that would make our work faster. The other challenge is probably not having as much clients as we had hoped though I limit the number of cakes we make in a week but at times you find that you have less than your target. Then at times some clients will say you are expensive but it’s my product! It’s the time I put in to create the cake. I consider all those things. You can’t have the client saying it’s expensive then you decide to always reduce, you’re going to end up compromising on the quality of your product. So many times you have to let people go.
Does your Job affect your General lifestyle?
Yes, definitely I have to say it’s like a lonely business if you’re so much into it. You don’t get time for people or yourself. It’s always work, work & work. I don’t think I have seen some of my friends in ages and in the end you get comfortable with being alone. Entrepreneurs have to be prepared for it. If you’re someone who is always out, it will show in you work.
Any advice for Novice Bakers?
Don’t be afraid to invest! I have met so many who won’t spend a shilling even for training and if you recommend YouTube, they will retort back with ‘’eh, that data!’’ They shouldn’t be afraid to invest in themselves, in knowledge. Knowledge is power and it will take you places. If you are stingy with learning, your work will be the same; no improvement. That money will always come back because you’re becoming knowledgeable, you’re becoming an expert so definitely your cake prices will have to change. At the end of the day, you get back what you invested.
Who is your Inspiration in the Industry?
Much of them are Cake Artists out of Uganda. I love texture so Jasmine Ray Cakes is definitely one of them. Then also Albena Cake Design, Levi’s twist; she is also called the Queen Sugar (Nigerian). I like the artists with texture mostly. My greatest of all is Jasmine Ray.
Here at home, I like Pius’ work, it’s really good as well as Chantal.
Any future plans you would like to share for The Bakerwoman?
Actually at the moment we aren’t taking orders. I am not doing cakes for probably two months as I am trying to get into some classes or so to improve the product especially the design part so I am going to be doing a few trainings and practicing on dummy cakes. I think I’ll be releasing dummy designs. In the future, I hope to open a shop with a section for baked goods and another for displays, wedding cakes and all that. As per now the plan to go back and practice so that when we come back, it will have a sort of a new look (The Bakerwoman)
Please visit and Support The Bakerwoman:
FACEBOOK: The Bakerwoman
PHONE: 0704 413713