What started out as a normal restaurant business day for Quincy, ended up being a numbing experience requiring the snappiest of decisions. His business partner left him with cake order yet to be fulfilled. With zero experience in the baking of cakes, he quickly turned to YouTube for cake tutorials. That was the start of his journey as a rising cake designer & entrepreneur in Accra. I visited Quincy at his bakery, Cold Cream Cakes & Food Limited to know more about this dramatic turnaround in his life and how he got through it.
What’s the story behind this food business?
Quincy: This business was actually my idea, that is to start a restaurant business. It was much later my partner and I decided to add cakes to the menu offerings. My partner was the one with the cake baking skills so the idea seemed to be a great one. I was in charge of managing the business which I would do every now and then whilst working a day job at Dalex Finance. I was a Sales Executive at Dalex due to my degree in banking & finance. My uncle who also worked at Dalex advised me to focus on the food business if that’s what was in my heart to pursue. So the business started and somewhere along the line my friend upped and left to pursue a previous job offering. I didn’t have any baking experience then. I had to make a decision to either stop baking the cakes which most people were beginning to love or continue. I chose to continue despite my zero skills.
You Made A Crucial Decision. How Did You Close That Skill Gap?
Quincy: I went on YouTube and watched a few videos but I also asked my now-leaving partner to leave behind a few recipes so as to ensure consistency in taste. He did leave me with a few but with my zero background in baking cakes, it was confusing. The day he was leaving we had a cake order and I asked him if it was possible to fulfil the order, I got a negative response. So I was placed in the position of either having to disappoint the customer or find an alternative. I immediately jumped back into YouTube, watched a few more videos and proceeded to bake the cake. I called my former partner’s brother to pass by and assist which he did. That was positive for me. He also however had to run into a meeting leaving me to finish up. I dressed the cake by myself and left the shop. I couldn’t handle facing the customer when they came for collection which was handled by the shop assistants. Then the customer starts calling and I couldn’t bring myself to pick up. She was going to blast me, I was so sure of that. But on the third ring I decided to pick up. What was the worst possible thing that could happen I thought to myself. The first thing I heard was, “Quincy! The cake is soo nice! I am giving you customers!” She gave us a few customers and since that time we have baked about 7,000 cakes.
Wow! That’s Pretty Incredible! What’s Your Weekly Turnover Like?
Quincy: We currently bake 100 cakes a week. Most of our orders have centred around birthday cakes, cream cakes, anniversary and corporate event celebrations. We have had a few orders for weddings too. So currently my whole life is cake. When I wake up in the morning, I have cake on my mind.
What Challenges Have You Faced Since This Dramatic Change In Your Life?
Quincy: Well, my social life has changed a lot. You wake up in the morning, there’s things to plan for, orders to fulfil, etc. I know some friends wont forgive me for missing out on their weddings and baby outdoorings. I know they have issues with me. I am always planning on new orders, going to the market to buy ingredients etc. The challenges I faced initially was having to compete with existing bigger cake businesses. However, we stuck to our business model of giving three flavours in one cake and that made us different from others. We also don’t restrict customers to color choices. I also need extra help with running the business as well as a bigger space to operate in. We have outgrown our current corner.
What Lessons Have You Learnt So Far As A Cakepreneur?
Quincy: One definite thing I can say is that, it’s very important to be disciplined and principled with your business idea. I have had to be very disciplined with my staff as most of them have more of cake baking skills than practical business management skills. I have learnt to ensure that employees follow laid down procedures to ensure & increase business efficiency. Customer service is crucial in any business. How you handle customer enquiries on the phone or face-to-face can make or break your business. It’s an area I stress on alot with my staff. I train them on eye contact and how to even respond to complaints. Every once in awhile a staff may respond poorly which may be due to pressures in the kitchen but I make it my responsibility to correct any misunderstandings. Keeping customers happy is very essential to my business.
One sure thing I can say about Quincy’s cakes are how refreshingly less sugary and moist they are. Personally, sweets and sugary desserts are not my thing but after trying one of his chocolate cupcakes, I was sold! Lock, stock and barrel. Full of exquisite flavour and with real fresh fruit toppings! Cake fit-for-the-gods. I am super proud of Quincy and how resilient he’s been in this cake business industry. A true story of never giving up on an idea because of a few thorns, there’s always a solution. Never forget.
* When life gives you lemons, squeeze them and make lemonade.