I was recently delivered a little parcel of Love & Spoon Me cupcakes from Cupcake Richard…. They were made with such care that I thought it would be interesting to interview Wida, the lady behind the business, and find out what it takes to become a entrepreneurial baker (or confectioner if you want to get fancy!) as part of my Women at Work series…
Tell me more about yourself Wida and what you currently do?
I am a cake fan and baker with a six year history working in the field of nutrition. Cape Town has always been my home and I am still discovering new things to enjoy and appreciate about it. I love the endless possibility it seems to hold. I was also fortunate enough to find my darling husband, in this city. My ideas tend to sometimes get a little too wild and I am very grateful to have a voice of reason by my side.
The cupcakes & cakes I bake are called Love & Spoon Me cakes. They are all accompanied with a spoon because I think that cake eating should be delicious, but also a little bit of fun. All of the baked goods at Cupcake Richard Cake Shop are suitable for vegans and people with specific food allergies. As someone who has had to go through the tedious process of an elimination diet, to identify an allergy, I realised that there weren’t many options for cake lovers. I also believe that it might be easier to stick to an allergen free or vegan diet if the food selection is still exciting, even if certain ingredients are restricted. In my ideal world, nobody should be denied cake.
When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
I’ve always loved baking, but realised that I won’t always be able enjoy baked goods, due to a restricted diet, so I started developing recipes. About a year ago it occurred to me that I might not be the only person in need of some suitable baked goods options, so I decided to do something about it.
What did you study – was it in this field or something different?
I studied Human Ecology and Community Nutrition. I’ve always been interested in this field.
What was your first job in the industry? and what path has your career taken since?
My first job in the industry was as a consumer service consultant at a very large FMCG. I spent the next ten years learning as much as possible in this environment and moved to business planning and finally to a nutrition advisor position. It was an incredibly valuable experience, but I believe that it was the right time for me to pursue personal and career growth outside of a corporate environment. In just over a year, since starting Cupcake Richard, I have learnt so much and have been privileged enough to meet some amazingly talented people. We can so easily become stuck somewhere without realising that there might just be a whole other world of opportunity out there.
What have been the highlights?
One of the things I am proudest of, so far, is our Tiger Postcard Project. This project was inspired by the World Wildlife Fund’s “Cards for Tigers” initiative. We love being able to give back and have been blown away by the response. Five of South Africa’s amazingly talented artists were willing to each supply us with work to create a set of postcards. The only request was that the work should include our favourite large, stripy cats.
The following artists were kind enough to participate:
Kirsten Beets, Maria Lebedeva, Wonder Meyer, Elsabe Milandri, Andrew Sutherland
All proceeds go towards tiger conservation and we are very excited about being able to help in some small way.
What’s the best part of your job?
Being able to create something every day is such a privilege and to see the joy on someone’s face, when they can eat a cupcake that they might not have been able to eat before.
What is the most challenging part?
Time! There just never seems to be enough of it.
What is your typical day, or maybe week if days are very different?
Things can become quite chaotic sometimes and I find that trying to maintain a set routine, really helps. This is obviously not always possible, but most of my days play out the same. All of our cake orders are baked fresh, on the day, so every morning starts with baking. Then I attend to all emails, invoicing and admin. We deliver to Cape Town for free at the moment and have one delivery run per day. This is usually in the afternoon and I usually deliver the orders myself as I am very protective of the cakes. The rest of my time is usually spent doing stock take of ingredients and creating packaging materials. All of our tags and branding are done in house.
What are the “secrets” to your success?
I once read something in an interview, with a person in a field that they absolutely love, that really stuck with me. The person mentioned that your dream job is still a job and I find that to be so true. If you want to make a success of something, it still takes a lot of hard work even if it makes you happy doing it. I’ve also learnt that even when you think you’ve allocated enough time to a task or project, you should add at least an extra hour to the already allocated time!
What do you do for fun in your down time?
Currently this work can be quite lonely, as it’s mostly just me in a kitchen, hanging out with baked goods, so I like to spend plenty time with friends and family when I get a chance. But at heart, I am quite a homebody and my happy place is snuggling on the couch with my darling husband and our cat, Party Bear.
What do you still want to achieve?
I am expanding our range of baked goods and would also like to be able to create baking kits in the near future. We are also working on improving our Cake Bomb Friday project. Of course having a little shop space, somewhere in Cape Town, is the dream!
Thanks so much for taking part in this series Wida and for giving us a glimpse into life behind the scenes (or ovens!)