CNN International’s ‘African Start-Up’ recently profiled young entrepreneur Ify Simpa, founder of Cakes a’ la Parties in Port Hardcourt, Nigeria, who designs and bakes cakes.
Simpa studied fine art at the University of Port Harcourt, but after failing to land a job, found an unexpected passion for baking. She now channels her artistry into making cakes and is slowly turning a profit.
Simpa tells ‘African Start Up’ how baking was not a passion that she envisaged having: “I was never interested in cake baking at all. My older sisters bakes so she talked me into it.” After making a wedding cake for a client Simpa saw the business potential. “I thought…Oh! I could actually start doing this. The smile on her face led me to believe I could actually do this cake business. And from that cake, to the next cake and from there to Cakes a’la Parties.”
There are certainly difficulties to running a cake store in Nigeria, as Simpa tells confides to ‘African Start-Up’: “The roads are very bad so customers who want to come this way to book their cake people ask you where Cakes a’ la Parties is located and if I tell them they say “Ah! The roads are bad, I can’t come. You can see that you’re losing customers because of that, you’re losing customers because of high cost of production somebody will say your cakes are expensive that they can’t afford it.”
Despite these obstacles, Cakes a’ la Parties has continued to grow. The company began with Simpa baking cakes at home with one employee, but in 2014 she was able to open a store.
Simpa now has three employees and plans to open at another location soon. Her drive is apparent: “I love designing because I love the fact that I could actually come up with something fresh and new for every client that walks in here so that’s what I do for a living and its fun.”
The young entrepreneur has big plans for Cakes a’ la Parties, telling ‘African Start-Up’: “I want to see myself being able to own a baking school and being able to be an international name. It’s not really about how good you are, but how committed you are to actually giving out what you know within yourself. It’s about wanting to empower the next person…wanting to help the next person. It’s all about that.”
Simpa is keen to offer advice to other business start-ups too: “Sometimes what you need to be successful in your life is within yourself. It’s all about self-respect and commitment. What you gain from working with somebody will help you along the way and you have to be patient in order to work your way to the top. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
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