Millicent is not an ordinary baker and her work speaks for itself. She is an artist and a small entrepreneur who refers to her cakes as the best in town.
She puts her artistry into every piece of cake she makes. Every customer who works with her gets a customized cake unique to itself.
Five years ago, Millicent was working as a personal assistant but the job never gave her the satisfaction she wanted. That’s how she got into baking cakes and learning the artistry side of baking that she now puts into every cake she makes.
All the magic happens in her house in Ruaka and online through her Instagram business account @rowzecakehouse.
Journey to Rowze Cake House
“I started my business while I was still employed. I studied I.T but got a job as a P.A. So I was not using my I.T skills and questioned whether I really wanted to do the P.A job.
I then started with YouTube and practiced what I was learning from YouTube for fun. After a while, I started making cakes for my friends and family and later started my page but it didn’t peak until this year. That’s when I figured that I needed to do it a hundred percent as a full-time job.
I used to be paid pretty well but I wanted fulfillment in what I did. And I knew that the job I had would one day come to an end and I needed a backup plan. That’s how I got into baking. Even at the beginning of my baking business, I was still doing other hustles.
I had a greenhouse some time back and produced tomatoes for a season. But, it didn’t work out the way I expected it would between my business partner and me.
I also started something else but it was really stressful and was draining me mentally. It was limiting me from doing anything else and I could not rely on it. The returns were good, but money is not everything.”
Growing Rowze Cake House
“The first cake I sold was to my friend’s sister who had a baby shower. I don’t think I got everything right but I was proud.
I had baked many cakes before that and it took me so many trials to get my recipes right. My dustbin ate most of them and my brother too.
I started getting orders in 2017 but the orders were not many. I used to get orders here and there once in a while. Last year is when my orders started increasing and my business started to grow.
It’s been a long journey and I never even thought I would be here.
Long term, I am planning to have my own bakery and I want it to be like a family business. But for now, I will do what I can. Realistically, I want to grow my client base first.”
Running Rowze Cake House independently
“I am a one-man guitar and I do all that needs to be done by myself and when I want to. When a customer makes an order, I do it when I want to do it and when I am a hundred percent ready.
And, I hate micromanaging people.
If I want something done, I do it myself or hire someone I know will do the job perfectly.
When I am doing something, I give it a hundred percent. So, working with a partner or a person who is not giving a hundred percent into the business is really difficult.
I give what I do my best and I have received so much positive feedback from my clients.
When you eat my cake, it’s really good and the decoration stands out.
For now, I get customers through customer referrals and Instagram. I never used to give much attention to customer referrals but now I do.”
Sustaining the business
There are so many factors that contribute to the sustainability of a business but above all these factors lie customer service.
“Providing good stuff has helped me sustain my business. I give my customers 100 percent. There is no day I will wake up and give you 70 percent. No matter how tired I am, I will still give you 100 percent and value for your money.
The art I put into my cakes is my selling point. I love creating and being unique. Most people like going the easier way and doing familiar things.
When I started, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what my selling point was until this year. But now, I love to create unique cakes with art unique to each customer.
Also, treating your clients as family is very crucial. That’s how you earn their loyalty.
Social media has been a great boost to my business. You post a picture, get good reactions, and get orders in the process. A customer calls and when you respond and treat them well, they make an order and come back next time.”
Running a business has its own challenges and every entrepreneur can attest to that.
“Corona has been the biggest challenge for me. Many people are not buying cakes. They do not have the money to use on anything else apart from the essentials.
Power is one of the main necessities while running a bakery business. And as a small home business, Millicent does not own a backup generator that most commercial spaces have.
“K.P.L.C has been a great challenge. You are baking and the lights go off. A blackout messes your baking completely.”
“The first money I put into my business was through the first oven that I bought at 32K. And, that time I never really thought of the returns. I was just happy I had an oven. But if I looked at the returns, that oven has given me a lot in terms of returns.
A baking business requires a lot in terms of equipment. And, some of the things you buy for example the ingredients, you only use them once.
In the beginning, you buy a lot and it’s a learning process for you as a baker and with time, you even learn to customize.
So if you are investing in a baking business with everything being considered, we are talking about 500,000Ksh.
But for someone who really wants to bake, you can just start with an oven. You can even start with charcoal because if you really want to do it, you will do it. It’s not a matter of how much you have but it’s all about the burning desire you have in you.
Also, don’t do it because so and so is doing it. You will not last. Anyone who gets into baking, it should come from the heart.
Baking is like a full-time job and you are in the same cycle all the time. All you do is bake, decorate, clean up, and deliver. You go through the same cycle every order.”
Start a business you can rely on – Millicent
“Comparing to the other business I have done before, I can rely on my baking business. I have clients I can rely on for business and a portfolio that shows my work.
I am grateful for every client I get and work super hard at keeping and maintaining every single one of them. And, I work towards improving my recipes every day and giving my all every day and working on anything that is in my control.
Besides, when you have something you are good at you can work towards growing it.
There are some businesses you cannot predict and predictability is very important when starting a business. You need to have something you can say if I do this and this today, I will earn this. And, baking allows me to do that.”