For one who is coveting Genevieve Nnaji’s wardrobe, who has two degrees, and is confident she has found a niche in confectionery, Yemisi is certainly on top of her game! She says there’s nothing she’d like to change because she’s in a good place. Here are the highlights!
Tell us what kind of business you run.
I run a cake and confectionery business.
What does it involve, day to day?
It involves baking cakes and catering for desserts at weddings, corporate events, birthday celebrations and so on.
What is your outfit called and for how long have you been in business?
Yelashcakes and Confectioneries. I have been in business for about 2years now.
With all the competition in this field, what made you decide to branch into it?
I have always loved baking and cooking. I was always in the kitchen with my mom when I was little watching her cook and helping with the dishes. My decision to start a business in cake making was formed due to an issue I had after I completed my m
Masters degree. I found myself out of work and it was a difficult time in my life. Then one day I was watching a program on TV, Come Dine With Me, a program where four or more strangers cook and bake for a price. A thought came to mind for me to try out some of the recipes I got from the show and since then I haven’t looked back. I got my first paying customer in November 2011. I officially started Yelashcakes and Confectioneries November 2012.
So looking back, what challenges have you faced as a small business owner?
I started the business while I was still aboard and was able to build a client base. Since moving back, my major challenge has been Awareness. Most people are afraid to try new hands and so it has been hard to break into the business but I am positive that will change soon.
Tell us about yourself, your background was not in catering…
My name is Oluwayemisi Ladipo- Ajayi. I can describe myself as a middlevert-a bit of an introvert and extrovert. LOL! I am very principled which some describe as strict(rolling eyes). My background was not in catering but I have about four years in customer service. I have a first degree in Mass Communication and second degree in Advertising and Marketing. I have done a few trainings on cake making and decorating as well as specialised dessert making.
That’s good. So with your qualifications are you better able to deal with the challenge that awareness poses?
Yes, I have started working on it already. I have seen improvement in the last few weeks.
Now as a lady, how are you able to deal with attention from the opposite sex?
I encourage it because I am still very much SINGLE. Some don’t come with intentions of dating you and you just might learn a thing or two from them. As for those that come with the intentions of dating, I know from the first conversation what their motives are (every lady knows). If its good, I give it a go and if its bad I shut it down fast!
Does the Nigerian economy support SMEs? Your answer with reasons.
SMEs are important drivers of growth in most economies. I would say the Nigerian economy today doesn’t support SMEs because SMEs in Nigeria are still faced with issues in their operating environment. For instance, the poor state of roads increase the cost of transporting both raw materials and finished goods to and from markets. Poor supply of electricity has affected many SMEs and caused them to shut down operations. Licensing and registration often creates barriers to their smooth operations.
How have you coped inspite of the economic situation?
It has not been easy but with God everything has been working in my favour. Initially, I discovered that I wasn’t making profit due to some of these challenges but I have over time built a good business relationship with some suppliers who supply materials to me. On the issue of power supply, I have invested in a good generator to service the business when there is no power supply. On licensing and regulation, my lawyer friends have been of great help in educating me on what needs to be done so as to be in the good books of the government.
Sounds like you’re sailing a smooth ship. Aside from confectionery, do you have any other business interests?
I have done a lot of selling prior to cakes and confectionery. I have sold clothes, shoes, jewelry and in my undergraduate days, I even had a home video rental business. (I am not jack of all trades though, LOL) I think for now I have found love in making seriously delicious cakes, pastries and desserts. I love every moment I spend baking. Maybe in the near future I may expand into sales of baking utensils.
After 2 degrees and trying entrepreneurship, will you accept a secular job/paid employment now?
Emm, I actually have a full time job at the moment. The reason is because my mom couldn’t just comprehend me been a full time entrepreneur. When I moved back, it was a struggle to get clients to order cakes plus I did not have enough capital to start the business the way I wanted it. So I had to get a job to support myself and the business. Today, I have a staff of three working for me and I get to come back home to make sure orders are ready to be delivered the next day. Stressful? Yes, but I can’t complain.
So where does mass communication meet baking?
There isn’t any relationship between mass communication and baking, however I have been able to use the skills I have learnt from studying mass communication to promote my confectionery business.
What then should we expect from you in the next three to five years?
You should expect unique cakes, lovely pastries and yummy desserts. Yelashcakes and Confectioneries will be on the lips of every sweet tooth and we will be ahead of other players in the confectionery business.
I hope you have your strategy mapped out… I just might do a repeat interview then. What advice will you give would-be entrepreneurs?
Yes, I do. Its going to be a walk in the park with God’s grace and favour. Advise for enterpreneurs: Stay focused. I like this phrase I hear on ‘Moments with Mo‘ – If you can think it, you can do it. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a process of learning. Take risks in business.
What inspires your work?
I get my inspiration from research. I spend long hours surfing the internet, reading up on new trends and educating myself. I have been self taught for the major part of this business.
Do you have mentors or icons in your field?
Yes I do. I have always followed and admired the works of Buddy(cakeboss), Mary Berry and Aisha(Saycheese cakes).
Do you have any personal philosophy?
Business is a marathon, so make sure you can survive the race. Stay focused and work extra hard.
Yelash cakes and confectionary
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