Your Name and what do you do?
Johra Amer Al Nahdy. I am the Founder and Director at Cake Emporium college of confectionery Arts in Mombasa.
Tell us about Cake Emporium?
Cake emporium college of confectionery arts is a state of art institute providing world class education driven by passion, leadership, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation in the baking industry to empower a generation of confectionery and cake artists. Our institute has really shifted the common notion that baking is a mere formality. We have invested heavily towards discovering creativity in the industry offering value to our students beyond their expectations. We offer a broad range of baking courses, training, mentorship, skill transfer and consultancy.
How did you get into the baking and confectionery arts industry?
I have always been passionate about pastry and sugar Art, I enjoy the creative process so much that FROM A YOUNG AGE I have always found myself indulging in baking and experimenting with all sorts of recipes and techniques, this pushed me to join pastry school while living in Canada to allow me to explore my curiosity and hobby and eventually I felt I should take my tempting creations to Mombasa and share my knowledge with others. More to the same I am also very keen on girl child empowerment and I its obvious we can’t all be doctors and lawyers and hence there is a need for exploring the arts, the confectionery arts industry is young and virgin in Mombasa and Kenya as a whole but has immense potential and that’s why I chose to venture into the same.
What was the greatest challenge you faced while starting Cake Emporium in Mombasa?
The main challenge that I am facing is inadequate awareness about the nature of confectionery arts industry.Many people still think going to school to learn baking isn’t something that should be undertaken, in addition the industry has received much professional and technical support its considered mostly a hobby. Another challenge, from the customers perspective, is pricing and cost of cakes, people expect us to price our products as home bakers forgetting our dynamics are different and what we offer is different as well, market awareness and response to the industry is also a huge challenge.
What has surprised you about business ownership?
It takes much more than passion and every day is a whole new lesson, How much administrative work there is and how big the little things can become.
Are there enough resources for Women entrepreneurs in Mombasa?
There is potential but we haven’t explored and exhausted everything we have, I feel like the Mombasa woman is yet to get out and take the business world by storm, while there is a good number who are trying there is still a very huge number that is barred by one thing or another from venturing into business, another big challenge I find in Mombasa is people conform a lot, women need to learn that one can do anything and everything their put their mind to it, it takes believing in yourself and trying…one step at a time and before you know it you are flying.
You baked Ali Kiba’s wedding Cake, did you have any challenges preparing and delivering the cake and how did you overcome them?
There was so much expectation and I kept wondering what if I don’t meet all these expectation, also given the wedding would be aired on live TV all the way in Tanzania I felt I had taken the responsibility of representing Kenya in the East African Market and I had to make sure whatever I delivered represented who we are both as a country and as an individual…I put in my best, paid attention to detail and most of all prayed (I am firm believer in prayers) in addition I have an excellent team that is very cooperative and skiled, this as well helped to put together the cake and I believe we did a good job.
You do a lot of Marketing, from your experience what type of marketing works effectively in Mombasa?
I feel the Mombasa market isn’t mature yet in terms of exposure especially for the confectionery arts industry, we push a lot content on social media and radio. Radio is a good reach for Mombasa audience because a lot of people follow what is happening on Radio. Social media is also the most effective and cost friendly alternative to advertise. Social media influencers such as vloggers, bloggers can really help in publicizing content.
Where do you see Cake Emporium ten years from now?
Cake Emporium is going to be big and we will change the game, take that to the bank. I see Cake Emporium at the helm of a global brand that originated out of Kenya, which is not a common occurrence! I am working on launching the Kenya Cake Artists Network which will be an association/network for all Kenyan cake decorators/artists to learn, grow and also promote their skills and talents to Africa and the world. It will also exist to set high standards of excellence in the Kenyan cake industry, there will be branches of our school opening in other parts of the country as well, lets just say 2018 has been our stating point but inshaa Allah we are going places.
When starting a business research your market and target audience thoroughly before investing significant funds into any business. Get inside the mind of your target customers. Discover their problems, then conjure up solutions and think how to monetize those solutions. Lastly, be passionate about what you do. You will need it to help you get through the long days, sleepless nights and more.