Bay business success a piece of cake
Hafiyyah Desai’s love and passion for baking as a young girl has seen her become the proud owner of Malabar-based business Classic Designer Cakes.
The family-run business has been serving the Bay community with designer handmade cake creations since 2009.
Can you give me some background?
I was born and raised in Port Elizabeth. In 2009, I founded a homebased company for designer cakes. I did a lot of cakes for functions as a hobby, so I decided to pursue it as a career.
Initially it started off small as it was my first attempt in launching a business and I had no idea if it would work out or not, but as soon as it launched, it began expanding.
Although it still remains a home-based company, we now run it on a formal level.
Where was the business idea born?
Like many little girls, baking was my childhood dream.
I used to spend a lot of my time passionately doing artwork, molding, carving, baking and decorating.
As I grew up, I decided to develop my talents with a business perspective since I realised there were good opportunities available as there weren’t many designer cake shops in our area.
What do you think makes your business unique?
Passion, as we don’t only run the business for profits – although this is huge factor – we run it because we are passionate about designing cakes.
Quality, since we don’t only focus on profits, we ensure our products are made from quality ingredients.
One key lesson from your business model?
Customer relationships. Look at your products from a client’s perspective.
For entrepreneurs it’s about getting money, but for clients it’s about giving money.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?
I would say when it was founded, keeping up consistently with the work pace, especially during busy seasons as we didn’t have many employees and it is a bit difficult finding employees with the required talents needed in this field.
Now that we run basic courses for designing and baking cakes, we have employed students who participated in these courses.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
Understanding what our clients want ... although we are designers, we can’t read minds. Sometimes clients are in a rush for upcoming events and they do not precisely describe the design they have in mind.
And then our designers may spend hours working on a design based on the details the client provides, but it turns out to be something different to what the clients had in mind.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about success?
Failure and success are two sides of the same coin, although they may seem to contradict one another at first glance. But, in fact they are interconnected if you think about it, based on experience and real life.
How do you measure success in your business?Success is not always about gaining five stars, but it’s also about how to manage getting no stars.For the most part it’s based on client feedback, as long as clients are satisfied with what we offer we can keep up with our services.Our motto: satisfied customers equals a satisfied business.If clients are not satisfied, then we have to successfully deal with it, business ethic is important to us overall but even more important in this scenario.What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?Despite our business growing we ensure that it remains a home-based company, keeping our products exclusive and handmade. We offer friendly one-to-one consultations with clients so we try our best to meet their requirements.What advertising do you do?Mainly online and random local advertising, such as magazines and handing out leaflets.Some highlights in running your business?We ensure that each and every cake we design is different and special in its own right. We also only bake per order, so all our cakes are exclusively baked as per the occasion. How did you acquire funding for the business?Initially we started off really small so we didn’t need funds.However, my mother and father funded the business for the most part.What is the lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?Success doesn’t come from our efforts; it is a blessing.Dreams do come true, you just have to work hard. Don’t feel helpless, be passionate about what you do.You don’t have to always be successful, even if you keep on failing it’s okay as long as you keep on standing up.What has been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like Port Elizabeth?The advantage is that Port Elizabeth is a small city. There aren’t many services like ours available, so we have more business opportunities, especially during busy seasons.The challenge lies in not having access to many cake decorating stores because it is a small city with limited baking supply stores. We usually have to order online.But that also means if we need the supplies by a certain date, there’s just no way we can get it so we have to make use of secondary options that are available.What do you think are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?Religious commitment, passion and creativity.