Cutting own niche in healthy baking

By Nailantei Norari
Thursday, June 17th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Brown Cakes founder Faith Igosangwa. Photo/PD/NAILANTEI NORARI

Faith Igosangwa is the founder of online bakery Brown Cakes whose specialty is in wholesome and gluten-free cakes. Brown Cakes has won many awards among them the Healthy Bakery of the Year in the Kenya Baking Industry Awards 2019.

Nailantei Norari @ArtNorari   

Chance favours the bold. And it did just that to Faith Igosangwa. One fateful day in 2016, she ran out of white flour and ended up adding brown flour to her cake mix. The cake turned out very well.

She could not believe just how sumptuous and good it looked, as she had always believed that brown flour would make something taste bad.

This is when she started experimenting with different flours and substituting cake ingredients with healthier options, all with the aim of creating something both healthy and swish.

“I went all out, learning all I could on gluten-free cakes and healthy cake alternative ingredients such as plant milk.

I enrolled for a three-month entrepreneurship class that helped me define my business vision and package my business.

I felt like I needed structure and the class gave me something to start with. I launched Brown Cakes immediately after the class in July 2016,” she explains.

But where did she get the capital to start? Faith believes in the power of starting small and scaling with time.

She continued baking even during the entrepreneurship classes. Ever the entrepreneur, she would make a big cake, slice it into pieces and sell it to her then classmates.

By the end of the three months, she had saved enough to buy a bigger oven, and some more baking tools that her business required.

The fact that her business was an e-kitchen, where she would either make deliveries or get clients to pick up the finished products, also meant her business overheads were low as she did not need to rent out a business premise.

Hunger for success

She was determined to also grow her product portfolio. She started with whole-wheat cakes and then got into the gluten-free cakes.

She made bigger cakes and widened her confectionery offerings. She then started approaching corporates, so that she could cater for their events and teas. She also baked birthday and wedding cakes for close friends and family.

“Brown Cakes growth was organic. We worked hard, and slowly built our product portfolio and our reputation.

We did our best to deliver quality products and got referrals and recommendations from both individuals and corporates. We marketed aggressively on social media and attended sampling events in order to reach more people and let them know what we were doing.

The process was slow, but nothing good ever comes easy,” explains Faith, who is also a psychologist by training.

But every business comes with its own share of challenges and highlights. For Brown Cakes, sourcing for fresh ingredients and wholesome ingredients that have not been processed was the major challenge.

She had to import some ingredients, and bulk importing made more economic sense.

This meant she had more fresh ingredients than she could use. she then decided to start selling the surplus ingredients to other bakers, and that is how she branched into selling fresh vanilla beans from Madagascar.

The other major challenge was Kenyans scepticism with e-kitchens. Most of her clients wanted to come to a physical business premise. She had to work hard to build trust and gain the clients’ confidence.

Forward gear

“The surprising thing about Covid-19 is that it helped us to better establish our online bakery, as everyone was forced to go online.

This automatically meant that Kenyans had to stop doubting the potential of online shopping and quickly got on board.

People started seeing that one can also get quality products even when ordering online. The pandemic in a way spurred our growth,” says Faith.

As to what the future holds, the entrepreneur hopes to keep re-inventing the business and growing it alongside the small group of small-scale farmers from whom she sources ingredients.

She intimates that entrepreneurship is about learning your target audience and responding to their varying needs.

She explains how she came up with the biodegradable cake wrapping options when she realized that her clients were environmental conscious.

She also started offering glass jar cupcakes, where the customers could reuse the glass jars at home or bring them to Brown Cakes for a cake refill.

“Times will get tough, but in those days, having a strong ‘why’ is what will sustain you. Why are you doing this and what impact do you want to have in the future?

It really helps if you are passionate about what you do. It makes hanging in there a tad easier. But the biggest thing you will need to do as an entrepreneur is to learn how to fail forward.

Do not let the failures crush you. Learn from them and do better,” Faith says in conclusion.

Nailantei Norari