The mother-of-two is the chief executive officer of Temi Bakes, a “distinctive baking company with a vision to become the foremost cake brand in Africa”. So how did she end up in a bakery churning out delicious cakes, desserts and sweet treats?
Difficult turnaroundBecoming an entrepreneur, let alone a baker, was not on Temitope’s to-do list. She was gainfully employed and things were going on smoothly at nine-to-five job.
The University of Lagos Mass Communication graduate narrated how the unexpected happened and changed everything.
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“I was made redundant when I returned from maternity leave at a major telecommunications company, where I used to work,” she said. “I thought about what to do and I had a new-born baby and I was also battling a broken relationship. I thought everything was finished. I didn’t know where to start. A voice told me to run away from it all, so I went abroad because my family lives in the UK.”
Temitope thought she would find respite by running away from her challenges. However, it didn’t take long before she realised that fleeing didn’t solve her problem. According to her, “I needed to return home and make myself useful.” How? She had no idea.
EncounterSometimes, adversity stimulates creativity. This was exactly the case of Temitope, whose encounter with an old friend in the UK suddenly gave her life a new purpose.
“I met an old friend one day and she told me of another friend who had gone to Dublin to learn baking. She was like, ‘Do you remember Rita? She’s gone to Dublin to learn baking.’ That struck me. That moment, I said, ‘baking is it then!’ It was like hitting the nail on the head, it was my Eureka moment!” Temitope recalled.
There was a tone of nostalgia in the voice of the CEO of Temi Bakes when she talked about baking and she was eager to share it: “I remember back in secondary school, I used to try baking cake with my mum’s blender. It was mostly improvisation but family and friends ate and loved my amateur cakes. Sometimes, they would ask me to bake for occasions such as Christmas, birthdays, and so on. That was back in secondary school.”
"I returned home, knowing that I wouldn’t have to be looking for a job; but rather, I would become an employer of labour"
So when her friend mentioned someone learning to bake cake in Dublin all the way from Nigeria, Temitope thought to herself, “Someone travelled that far while I am already here in the UK wasting away, sort of…”
She descended on her computer and started searching where to learn baking in London. “I found Fair Cake. Their cakes looked like something that was photo-shopped, like out of this world. So I went for training there,” she said.
Her first training was a cupcake class from 10am to 4 pm. After that she went to Lambert College for further baking knowledge and training on types of treats. Then she went to a Nigeria baker in London and Cakes for Fun to learn some other things about the trade. She was now very equipped to return to Nigeria.
The returnTemitope thought about staying back in the UK to start her business, but she didn’t have a work permit. “I returned home, knowing that I wouldn’t have to be looking for a job; but rather, I would become an employer of labour,” she enthused.
She bought some of the utensils and ingredients she needed from the UK and was categorical about what she bought. “Just the basic ones that could be difficult or expensive to get in Nigeria,” she emphasised.
Temitope registered Temi Bakes in 2012 upon her return and went further to acquire more training from Mix & Bake on baking and decorations.
“I started with baking cupcakes for family and friends, selling cupcakes to them,” she smiled. “They eat and come back and help refer me to their friends, colleagues at work, neighbours, etc. That was how Temi Bakes started.”
Starting smallTemitope didn’t feel she had to start with much in terms of capital. “I started with a small mixer. I bought bowls and spatula and some other items from the UK for around £20 (about N20,000 then).”
In all, she estimated her starting capital to be around N100,000, which was from her personal savings.
However, it wasn’t that simple with other challenges, especially staffing and expansion process.
“As our customer base expanded, I needed funds from time to time to keep up with the additional expenses. If you don’t have the capacity to deliver you need to look for a way to do it,” she lamented. “Also, absenteeism and inefficiency are not good for the baking business. Finding committed staff who won’t call in sick at crucial times is a challenge we face from time to time.”
Six years down the line, Temi Bakes has witnessed significant growth, thanks to referrals and the use of social media advertising tools. Temitope also relies on freebies and promos, which have helped increase her sales and kept her business profitable.
She has go on to study Entrepreneurial Management at the Lagos Business School and believes that it is only a matter of time before Temi Bakes will become the foremost cake brand in Africa.