By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko
More and more young people are turning their passion into profit. Tembuso Zwane, an Electrical Engineering graduate, is one such person. She has turned her love for baking into a profitable business and her customer base is growing by the day. She says baking cakes is one of the best jobs in the world because one gets to be part of so many special occasions.
“You get to make so many people smile. My art and talent bring joy to many individuals and their families, and that is something to be proud of. Yes, I sometimes work long days and even longer nights, but it is an awesome job that is so much more than just baking cake,” she says.
Q – When was your business established?
A – I have always loved being in the kitchen. After I graduated from university in 2018, I started spending more time in the kitchen getting creative with whatever I found there. I used to cook and bake and post my products on my social media pages and people would love it. That’s how Fresh Bakes by Tebu was born, in 2020.
Q – Why did you decide to start this type of business – what were you responding to?
A – It was a love for making cakes pretty. At first, I was just passing time and only baked for close friends and family. But then more people started wanting me to make them cakes. I decided to turn it into a business and started charging accordingly with the help of my sisters.
Q – What was your first objective when you founded your business?
I was just doing what I love and then realised it could be a source of income. The first objective was to get more people to order, at very low prices as a start, so I build my portfolio before I could confidently go all out and make money. I wanted to make sure I deliver quality products.
Q – Is this a full-time business for you or a side hustle?
A – It started as a side hustle but now it’s a full-time business. I’m hoping it is going to grow even more in this coming year.
Q – How many people work for you?
A – So far none. I get help from my family on very busy days. Otherwise, I do everything.
Q – What methods do you use to promote your business?
A – I use social media. I have an account on Facebook and Instagram where I post everything I make and people engage with me from there.
Q – How did you choose the name for your business?
A – I wanted a name that tells what the business is about. ‘Fresh Bakes by’ and not ‘cakes by’ as most do because I didn’t want to limit myself to cakes and also I felt it allowed me to be open to partnerships in the future. It’s possible to drop ‘by Tebu and keep it ‘Fresh Bakes’ if I decide to open it up and work with other people.
Q – What makes you different from others in your industry? What product range do you have?
A – I believe I pay attention to the overall look of my products. It’s not just a tasty bake, it’s also a beautiful and well-packaged bake. So far it’s cakes, cakesicles, biscuits, cupcakes, and muffins. I am working on new recipes and having more products.
Q – How did you manage to survive the challenges brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic?
A- My business started after I lost a job during the first lockdown. I switched my creations from earrings to cakes. I was working on handmade accessories before that which took a fall during the pandemic since people were not going anywhere and no one needed any accessories and so I made the switch. It’s amazing how the baking business picked up despite that time being very challenging for many. I wanted an escape from thinking about all the misery that the pandemic brought and created something that people also felt they could escape to
Q – How many hours a day do you spend working on your business?
A – There isn’t a specific number of hours. It depends on how many cake orders I have. One cake, from start to finish takes at least 4 hours. Sometimes I work through the night. I’m working on giving it structure though, even though it’s a home-based business. I would love to dedicate a specific number of hours in the day to the business and the rest to other interests and me-time.
Q – How would you characterize your business’s success thus far?
A – The business is slowly and consistently growing. I’m grateful for all the support I’ve been receiving. I’m growing in skill, I’m growing in clientèle. I had been avoiding wedding cakes but now I’m confident enough to accept wedding cake orders. I’ve grown tremendously over the two years and feel excited for the coming years.
Q – What can your loyal customers look forward to in the future?
I’m bringing more variety. I’m working on new recipes and I’m excited to share what I’m creating. I’m also looking to bring it out of my home and have a little place in town where my customers can get easy access to little everyday bakes.