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Interviews22 December 2020

Bridget Maria Agaba of Slice of Life Bakery

  • For how long have you been baking?

 I’ve been baking since December of 2017 so about 3 years.

  • What or who inspired you to start baking?

A certain woman around home called Beth. As a little girl, I used to visit her bakery and help her wash pans after work so I grew up knowing I would be a baker.

  • So this has been a dream of yours since childhood.

Yes it has because I started in 2001 while in primary two. So, I used to go visit her (Beth) when she was baking and would wash for her pans as she works as we exchanged stories while also watching how she was baking. She inspired me much as I didn’t really learn a lot at the time.

  • Okay, so did you follow the same trajectory into school? Maybe with classes like home economics.

 Yes. I did home management in O level because I knew it was all about cooking and baking then Arts in A level. I then did a Bachelor’s of Arts in Drama and Film at Makerere University during which we had a course called Young People’s Theater which gave me a platform to inspire kids back at home by teaching them how to act and many other skills including baking as an alternative to traditional school.

  • Where did you learn how to bake? Did you go to baking school or are you self taught?

I picked up some knowledge from Beth back then and also the Young People’s Theater program back at home. I used to hire someone to teach the kids how to bake. I was a gov’t student at campus so they used to give me seven hundred thousand as living out allowance which I used to start the Young People’s Theater. So, as they were teaching the children I would see and learn as well and started baking by myself using those same recipes after campus but they were not really selling here in Kampala. People would tell me that there was something lacking so I saw a need for classes which I took about a year and a half later.

  • How did you start the bakery, Slice of Life, as a business?

I actually started with two other names before this one, the second of which I found was already in use when I went to register the company and that’s how I ended up with Slice of Life. Uhmm….okay, if I’m going to tell you how I started I’ll have to tell you this story.

  • Yes, please!

So my husband and I got married straight out of campus and you know the future wasn’t clear financially speaking at that point. He was lucky he got a job immediately as a doctor while I was still at home so thought of something to do and baking came up so I started by advertising cakes using those from the Young People’s Theater. I got two orders which I baked on my sigiri (charcoal stove) because I didn’t have equipment at the time. The next challenge now was icing the cakes which I didn’t know about so I went to the internet and practiced from evening to morning. The next challenge after that was decorating and design which my husband helped me with.

  • Interesting! How did your doctor husband know how to decorate and design?

From the internet. We would watch the videos together then I would bake and ice and he would decorate and design after work then deliver them in the morning before work. His interest grew as well so we saved up and later started a real bakery with the proper equipment but it was a journey. It didn’t happen all at once.

  • So, what is your specialty as a bakery? What products have you had the most success with?

The red velvet, black forest and fruit cake. My wedding cakes especially. Those three cakes have really sold the bakery.

  •  Since you started in 2017, what challenges have you faced along the way in this industry?

 The first challenge I got was getting clients. I thought I had all the market to myself among my friends and former classmates since I was the first to start baking in my circles but instead I was getting a lot of negative feedback so the first years I didn’t have many clients which almost made me give up by the way. I almost quit to go look for a job.

The second challenge was delivery. I use bodas to deliver which can be hard during the rainy season and clients will not understand.

  • Were you able to come up with some solutions to solve these challenges?

 Yes. I upgraded my products so that I had something nice for my clients then also advertising on facebook, whatsapp, etc. I don’t give up and with advertising I don’t care. Even if you receive the message a thousand times I’ll make sure it reaches you even if you don’t buy and all my friends know me for that. I advertise!

  • What has been the highlight of your career so far? That one day you’ll never forget.

 I think that’s Marisha’s wedding and giveaway. She didn’t give me any instructions, she gave me the chance to be creative with both cakes. So for the wedding I baked a castle and for the giveaway I baked an African print cake and they both came out very well. I think that was a turning point for me and the business.

  •  How do you market yourself? You’ve mentioned Facebook and whatsapp. Which do you use the most?

Referrals. I also have a marketer who is my husband. He’ll tell everyone when they have a function that my wife can make this for you even better. I market mostly using inbox. Like I told you, I don’t give up, even if you don’t buy. If a friend posts a cake I tell them I can bake it for them and I always try to do better. Most times I don’t mind about profit but I give it my best which brings more clients. I also give end of year bonus classes to anyone that’s willing especially ladies. I had started this St. Bridget foundation last year in October to train ladies now that I’ve grown and seen the problems ladies face. So I move, I go to my home district and train ladies and in doing so I also market my business.

  • Where is Slice of Life bakery located?

Kyebando, Nsooba next to Super Inn Guest House.

  •  What makes you stand out from the crowd? What makes you unique as a business?

 We offer truth and deliver to the client’s expectation and more because we are marketing. And we don’t take shortcuts, we aim for quality.

  • You’ve had three years of experience doing this. Do you have any advice for those joining or planning to join the industry?

Learn. Always add on to what you already know so that you’re not left behind. And feel free to share and cooperate with your fellow bakers, learn from each other, ask for help. Everyone has their clients. There are many bakers workshops as well where you can learn more and also meet other fellow bakers.

  • Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry at the moment?

Gift of Just Cakes and Aggie of Mama’s Little Confectionary. Very humble ladies, willing to share and mentor and have really nice products.

I’d say my biggest inspiration in life has been my mother. She’s a very hard-working woman and I grew up watching her make ends meet and being independent as a woman. She always told us “you have to work hard as a woman and add value to your husband”. Whenever I feel like giving up, I remember how she didn’t give up no matter what. She’s my biggest inspiration.

  •  As a wife and mother, has your current job affected your general lifestyle?

 Very much so. Orders come in at any time so I spend a lot of time baking and little time with my family especially now that the bakery is out of home. When you’re operating a home business, at least your family sees you a lot so it’s like you’re around but not really around.

  •  Is your previous education background of any use in what you’re doing now?

I don’t really like to associate so much with my degree because a lot of people think it is the only way to achieve financial stability which is not true but maybe social networking and writing are some of the skills I got from it.

  • Any future plans you’d like to share?

Yes. I’ve learnt decoration and tailoring along the way and so I’d like to do events management and offer more.

I’d also like to start up a school that would offer support to especially ladies who want to change their lives.

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