PERSONALITY OF WEEK: Beatrice Muteru

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By LILYS NJERU
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Ms Muteru is a veteran in the cake business; she has won the cake festival’s signature theme cake prize for five consecutive years.

Her story is a great lesson for those that have baking skills and would want to start earning money from their talent. 

You resigned from your job in the civil service to bake – why?

After high school, I studied secretarial, but often baked in the evenings after work and during my leave days, cakes that I would sell to friends and relatives. Even before I joined college, I knew that baking was what I wanted to do, but was afraid that my future would not be as bright as I wanted it to be if I went in that direction.

Having baked on the side for seven years, I felt confident enough to make baking my main hustle and quit my job in 2003, a decision I do not regret. 

Your cakes are ingenious and highly artistic, do you have formal training?

No. During my childhood, the Daily Nation had a segment for kids called Hobbies corner. Often, there would be cake recipes which I tried out.  I was 15 years when I baked my first three-tier wedding cake for a family friends’ wedding – I sold it for Sh3, 000.

With part of the money, my dad bought me a recipe book that had many cake recipes. I draw inspiration from anything around me. Even an empty mug has a story to tell. 

What is the most exhilarating aspect about being a baker?

One of the best things is that it is exciting and satisfying. Each day is a chance to learn something new and to outshine yesterday’s success. 

What are your favourite things to bake?

I love baking, so I have no preference. We bake what a client wants. I often tell my students that to succeed in this business, they cannot afford to be choosy. You cannot afford to have a favourite cake design. A successful and passionate bake is versatile. 

Are you satisfied with what you earn from your trade?

With a team of 12 employees who have never gone for even a month without pay, I think I have answered your question. 

What are the absolutely necessary tools one ought to have to get started?

An enthusiasm for baking. It has to be a lifestyle, not a job. God has already given you the two most essential tools: your hands and mind. Others that you will need along the way is an oven and a cake mixer. 

If you got the opportunity to be in your twenties again, what would you do differently?

I would banish the fear of the unknown and follow my passion. That said, the skills I learnt in my civil servant’s job such as time management and data entry have been applicable in my business. I believe that things happen when you are ready, and so I am glad that I waited. 

You must have a philosophy that drives you…

Richard Branson once said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” I have never turned down a client as long as the request is in alignment with our values.

We brainstorm, consult other bakers if need be, and only say no if what is requested is impossible. 

What advice would you give to young people that wish to try a hand at baking?

To make it in this business, you don’t need lots of starting capital – I started baking from home using an old oven my parents gifted me.

I also did not have the money to buy an electric mixer, but that did not prevent me from doing what I enjoy doing. Do not be afraid to start small. It is also important to network because that is the only way people will know that you exist.

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