From fine arts to bakery entrepreneur

From fine arts to bakery entrepreneur


Simpa’s creations have spawned a thriving bakery business. Here’s how it started and where it’s going next, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

Making is now Mrs Ify Simpa’s   full-time job. A wife, mother and a baker, she is the Chief Executive, Cakes a’laParties Limited, Port Harcourt. She is a self-taught baker. But she didn’t start from the food industry. She is a fine arts graduate of University of Port Harcourt(UNIPORT).  She said:: “It all started with a cake job that I had to help my sister decorate seven years ago.”After years of skirting around the culinary world,she decided to dive in, spending hours  trying out ideas for baked goods and desserts.  “It had a lot to do with my passion for art. Being a graduate of Fine Art department, Uniport, it came natural to me,” she said. This is her sixth year in the cake making. But she started small. She recalled: “I could remember buying a N7000 kenwood mixer and a few other tools. I had to bake in my kitchen oven. So, roughly N50,000, if I  were to put a figure to it, and my flare for creativity got me started.”

To start, it wasn’t much. She baked everything herself. With no store, she worked out of her kitchen. She delivered products to catering events and to individual customers. She was entering a saturated industry. Seven years later, her one-woman show has transformed into a small empire. Today, the business is worth several thousands and counting. She has five workers.

One major thing happened to encourage her: “It has do with my Cable News Network (CNN) entrepreneur start-up feature and most definitely my interview withKonnectAfrica. It gives me the push to keep going on despite the numerous challenges.”

Now, she had truly wonderful responses from people when she bakes on order, and now the same reputation is helping her run the business successfully.She has plenty of repeat customers.

After accounting for her expenses, there is money left over to pay her a regular salary.  Her little oven has been working around the clock. It’s a sign that business has really picked up.

Nevertheless, she  has had challenges. “Having dedicated workers can be very challenging, but my knowledge of my business surpasses all that. Then the high cost of production is a huge challenge, but the need to retain a great brand can’t be compromised. So taking all that into consideration. I’ve been able to stay focused despite all odds, because I have to be on my toes in order to run a successful business. I realise that at the end of the day a great brand is better than several agitated sales in the long run,” she said.

To achieve success, she has had to forsake many things. “I’ve had to skip parties, travelling and shopping.” Despite the  success so far recorded, she undertakes a reality check every once in a while.

She offers cupcakes that are constantly available.She specialises in producing cakes, cookies,pastries, muffins and breads.She believes her brand has had success because the products  are delicious and unique. She has been running the bakery and confectionery business for the past six  years. According to her,  there is a lot of scope for the people to start similar business.

Source : Thenationonline