Umoja’s cake artist aims for the sky
At MaryGee’s Cakes and Bites customer satisfaction is the topmost priority. And the home baker is reaping good dividends from this concept as it has kept satisfied customers coming back time and again.
But the truth is that behind every success, there is a story. Maria Goretti’s baking love saw her bake regularly at home. She used to bake for family consumption.
However, despite her great baking skills what she had never done was to decorate a cake.
However, this changed when in 2019 her mother-in-law asked her to bake and decorate a cake for her youngest brother-in-law.
This was a new challenge. Since she couldn’t say no she tried her level best with the help of YouTube videos.
“It was not as easy as I thought, I used a sufuria and a meko. Since I didn’t have any decorating equipment I used what I had at home that is a lid, a cake board, bread knife, and spoon,” she recalls.
Two months after that challenge, she was enrolled in a baking class, looking to add to what she already knew.
She wanted to learn more about cake tools and equipment as well as some of the decoration tricks.
Little did she know that her life was about to change. During the training, she saw a business opportunity in the cake world and decided to embrace it.
“During the training, I started receiving orders from my neighbours and I started making cakes for commercial purposes.
For the first few days, I used to bake at my friend’s house since I didn’t have the required tools. I also used to store ingredients that needed refrigeration there.”
Upon seeing her determination, her husband gave her some money to get the necessary tools and products to start the business.
That is how MaryGee’s Cakes and Bites located in Umoja was borne in January 2020.
Since she relied entirely on referrals she also started giving free samples and this effort really paid off.
As the popularity of her products increased, she started to receive more orders.
These days, she is happy that customers are coming to her and that she no longer needs to ask people to try her sweet treats. She is now focused on keeping up with orders.
What began as a hobby for Maria has now blossomed into a full-time job.
“I saw a gap in freshly baked products, especially good cakes at an affordable cost and this motivated me to venture into this space.
I realised that parents were always looking for good quality yet affordable celebration cakes near their residences,” she says.
According to Maria, though the business is doing somehow well now she decided to be operating from home because she always wants to make sure she delivers what is ordered fresh and of good quality.
This has also helped her look after her young family comfortably as she is around most of the time.
However, she says that she is not limited and she looks forward to owning a shop in the near future.
And how did Covid-19 impact her business to where it is now? She says that for her business, Covid 19 was a blessing in disguise.
The reason being during lockdowns that is when most people wanted service providers who would deliver to their houses. Because of that, she acquired most of her clients then.
“I also learned the power of networking during the pandemic. What I can say is that I am where I am today because of Covid-19.
I don’t know if my business would have grown this fast if people were working normally,” she says.
However, despite the growth, Maria admits that it has not been an easy journey.
Along the way she has experienced several challenges with taking care of her family and business at the same time being the major one.
Apart from that, being a home baker is hard to win trust from most people and the market is unreliable.
The rising prices of ingredients is also affecting her costing while lack of a physical location affects her expansion.
“I can’t complain. The growth has been on an upward curve, I get new clients and new challenges every now and then.
To reach more customers I still give free samples. I also make sure I acquire new skills to keep up with the new trends in the business.
For visibility, I put advertisements on social media platforms and on google.”
In the future, apart from having a physical location, she also wants her products to be recognised not only in Kenya but also in other countries.
She also aims at empowering more young people to embrace self-employment.
To achieve this she has started training youths one person at a time. She also plans to diversify her product range.
“For now I have specialised on cakes only. We bake irresistible cakes for all occasions. However, I also do chapatti and mandazi on order.
Once I have a larger processing facility I will diversify our product range,” she concludes.