Interview with Olanike Ayiloge, Co-founder of 809 Cakes
Olanike Ayiloge, the co-founder of 809 cakes obtained her Accounting degree from the University of Lagos. Her passion for cakes and sojourn into the confectionary world dates as far back as when she was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) where she used to bake cookies and make cupcakes to sell. A former banker with a great interest in exploring sophisticated recipes, she started a home-based baking business in 2014. Olanike who is also a Chartered Accountant and a recent beneficiary of the YEO Foundation 2018 Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship (WEEP) grant shares her story…
Tell us about yourself and your educational background?
I’m Olanike Ayiloge, mother to two lovely boys and co-founder of 809 Cakes. I’m a graduate of Accounting from the University of Lagos and also a Chartered Accountant.
What inspired you to start 809 Cakes?
I was tired of life as a banker. I had totally lost interest and wanted something that will keep me excited, thankfully baking is yet to be a bore.
How did you come about the name, 809 Cakes?
My birthday is 8th September, so we chose 8-09 when all other proposed names were declined at CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission).
How long have you been in business?
809 Cakes officially started in 2015, prior to that I had been baking for friends and family. So, when I decided it was time to leave the bank, the only thing I could think of was to go into baking full time and professionally.
Did you have any business experience before you started 809 cakes?
No, I did not. All I had was my passion for baking. Making a successful business out of my passion was learnt afterwards.
What is your earliest memory of baking?
Hmmm…I would say I learnt baking by accident. It was an accidental seed sown while I was in secondary school. I attended Air Force Girls Military School in Jos, Plateau State. Then, the home economics teachers would use us as bakery assistants whenever they had cake orders. We would mix the batter from scratch all by hand under their strict supervision. It was always a joy to be selected for “Home economics lab duty” And there was always the reward of cake samples when the cakes were done. So, during holidays I always tried to bake for myself following the exact process we followed in school and the result was always nice.
What was the greatest challenge you faced while starting a bakery?
Understanding the business of running a bakery was my major challenge. I had erroneously believed that my passion will just be enough, I just wanted to bake and not be bothered about the business side. It took me a while to realize and understand that a proper business structure was vital to the sustainability of the business.
How did you acquire funds for your baking machines and tools?
I started the business with savings from my previous employment as well as support from my co-founder and hubby. This year, I was also privileged to benefit from the YEO Foundation grant. That helped me acquire bigger machines which has in turn helped scale up our production capacity.
Have you had any mistakes that other business owners can learn from?
Hmmm…mistakes are inevitable because we are human. What’s most important is how those mistakes are handled. As a matter of policy, we are honest about our mistakes whenever they occur and make efforts to compensate our customers. That has earned us their trust and they always come back.
Have you had any successes that other business owners can be encouraged by?
The growth of 809 Cakes is one major success I’m grateful for. I must be honest with you, it isn’t an easy road to travel, even when one is so passionate about the job. But I will encourage business owners to be persistent, also invest in continuous improvement by attending relevant courses and keeping abreast of what trending in your industry worldwide.
What is the rewarding part of owning and growing your business since you quit banking?
Waking up each morning to do what I love doing and getting paid for it.
Do you have any advice for couples thinking about going into business together?
Honesty and transparency with respect to finances is very important. Also I encourage both parties to be involved in whatever capacity they can. I handle the baking and customer interaction while my husband provides financial advisory services. When we first started, he will even handle weekend deliveries.
What is a typical day like for you?
My typical day at the bakery starts at 9am, we review the day’s baking schedule and bake. Then we decorate cakes that are already work in progress. Because we specialize in custom designs and we particularly love neat finishing, decorating and finishing usually takes much longer than baking time.
How do you hope to see your business grow within the next few years?
We still have a number of things we’ll like to achieve:
- We are now ready to expand our product offering to cater for weddings
- We will like to acquire a decent studio space with larger capacity for production and customers can walk in to place orders or pick up their orders
What are a few unique cupcake recipes you’ve baked?
We have a variety of cake flavors which we offer to meet different needs and preference of our customers. And I must add that all our cake recipes are unique, partly because we only use the best quality ingredients such as you would use if you wanted to bake for yourself at home. Also, because we have over time improved our recipes to give your cakes that leave you with lasting sweet memories.
Are there any new things on the horizon?
We are in the final stages of introducing our newest product offering- EmmaDees Premium Bread. The bread comes in a couple of variants such as the classic loaf, raisin bread, burger rolls and sardine bread. Our customers have been receiving samples with their cake orders and the feedback has been encouraging.
How do you market your business?
We currently adopt a one-on-one method of marketing. We also keep detailed profile of our customers’ special days and keep in touch. Even when they don’t intend to order, the fact that we keep in touch and celebrate with them on their special days puts us at the top of their minds whenever they need cakes or have the opportunity to recommend us to others.
Do you have other ideas about branding?
For us, our branding reflects current trends in the industry. So we have an open mind and make necessary adjustments as the need arises. For example, we recently redesigned our logo to capture what we do better, we also adopted the name 809 Cakes and Treats to reflect the fact that we are not just about cakes alone.
How has technology aided your business?
Technology is a very important part of this business. To mention a few, technology has helped in the following areas
Education- thanks to technology, I get the best of education from the best cake artists in the world via their online schools
Accounting- Book keeping and transactions recording has been semi -automated
Payment solution- Customers can pay us from the comfort of the homes or offices. We can also pay our suppliers and have our goods delivered without stress
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