THE FEMALE FOUNDER SERIES ~
The Female founder Series ~ an inspiring extension of the Win@Work Podcast. A network of businesses led by women, supporting women. Our mission is to enable and empower female owned and led businesses to positively impact our communities, both socially and economically.
This week's spotlight is "Oh my Cake", founded by 2 beautiful women, Camilla & Naseeha
What have you built & what inspired you to build it............This is a glimpse into their story.......
Once upon a time…it all started with a leak.
In 2014, two budding young entrepreneurs were selling cupcakes & macarons at the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. They didn’t know each other. Camilla was working a corporate job in marketing by day & baking hundreds of macarons by night, out of her little oven at home.
Naseeha had just finished a Masters degree in medical science & was testing her cake decorating hobby as a home business, with her domestic worker as an assistant.
One thing they both had in common was a love for creating food art & sharing it with people. On a rainy Saturday in Braam, Naseeha’s stall was damaged by a leak, & she had to move. She ended up trading side by side with Camilla, & what started out as a friendly business rivalry slowly grew into two entrepreneurs joining forces & building something special.
OMC (OH MY CAKE) today – hello, 2020!
6 Years & many, many lessons, twists & turns later, we have built an exciting brand, outgrown two stores & expanded our team from 2 to 20! Thousands of cakes, cupcakes, macarons, brownies, cookies & more leave our store at Cedar Square every week.
You can shop our desserts right here online & have them at your door within 48 hours, or you can pop in to visit us 7 days a week, shop from our unique cakes-to-go, grab a coffee & watch us create magic. We’re a young, dynamic team & we have fun with what we do.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
Failure has often closed a door that I’ve tried to keep open but wasn’t meant to be open. Let those doors close, finish those chapters. I love the saying fail hard & fail fast- get it over and done with, learn and grow. I have many personal & professional failures that I frequently reflect on and appreciate where I am now, thanks to that failure. There is a lesson to be learnt in each failure.
In 2014, I pitched Oh My Cake! to a panel of hotshot CEOs & potential investors. It was an entrepreneurial competition, with a cash prize. This wasn't so much a "failure" because I won 2nd place, but during the Q&A, one of the board members looked me in the eye & told me that my business would be impossible to scale. I've never forgotten that. Every time I think back on it, I chuckle to myself. I remember how scared & uncertain I was, & how much I've grown & OMC has grown since then. Her criticism fuels me on, even 6 years later!
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
There’s too many messages, I would need several billboards. A lot of these messages come from my Dad who is also a business owner and whom I respect greatly.
i. “Hire for attitude, train for skill”
ii. “Get all the people on the bus, then decide where you’re going”
iii. “stick to the knitting”
iv. “Nothing worth having comes easy”
i. Because I truly believe that we are so often scared to try something because we overthink it, or because we are conditioned to believe that we need to have a clear plan with all the answers in place, before we can start. We don't! OMC started for me with a YouTube tutorial, a few basic ingredients & a hand mixer, in my tiny home kitchen. Just start.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Our business is a few years old and is no longer a baby but actually able to take small steps on it’s own now. This has allowed me to shift attention to balancing my life, something that I’ve neglected for some time. In doing this I’ve realized that it helps me to sow better quality time back into the business when my mind and body is strong and healthy. Self care is certainly a top priority that I’ll carry with me for years to come.
Ownership. I need to own every aspect of my life. Feeling overworked & unhealthy? I've slipped up on taking care of myself & fostering healthy boundaries. Employees not complying with something? I must've gone wrong somewhere along the way in providing the right environment for them to take responsibility. Whatever the situation, taking a mirror to myself & owning my role in the outcome, instead of blaming others or blaming "life", has led to an improved life experience for me! I am a happier person for it. It's hard work but the rewards are real.
In the last year, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
The current pandemic that we’re living in has allowed me to see how cluttered my life is. And clutter isn’t good. You can’t breath or live in clutter. This clutter can be anything from social obligations, stuff in your house or even to do lists. I’ve simplified it (parties, clothing, lists, toys… the list goes on) drastically and finally I can breath. Linked to this is that I’ve realized that a good or bad habit that I have is to please people as much as I can- I’ve realized that this doesn’t serve anyone well. My tank needs to be fill in order to help others. I’m a lot braver in saying, No.
Work that I am not proficient at. I say no, delegate or ask for help, instead of struggling alone. I realised, during lockdown, that I am not good at everything at work! Nor should I be. It won't serve the business well for me to struggle alone. Empowering others to help me, teach me or take over, is a far more worthwhile endeavour. I also say no to social situations that drain my energy. This gets easier as I get older, & become more confident in myself, my social needs & my worth!
In this unique time in our history with the Global pandemic, how would you say has it impacted your perspective around business? What would you do differently or change going forward?
From the 27 of March up to today has been the biggest whirlwind. Nothing turned out the way I expected to. Everything has been turned on it’s head. Everyone says, you should plan for that rainy day. And you never think that rainy day will come around, and then finally it did. You should always be ready for that rainy day, and it can come in any format. My perspective on our team at Oh My Cake! has changed. We set out to create a family 6 years ago when we started the business and Covid has finally proven to me that we in fact do have a family. We all have each other’s back. We all have good days and we all have not so good days. Ultimately, each and every family member has shown their love and concern for this business. And today, we’ve added another oven, another 4 family members and our online store has simply exploded with orders.
The pandemic has brought sharply into focus for me, the volatility of business. Especially a business like ours, that relies on human connection & family celebrations. Having sustained & grown our business towards the end of 2020, I've become aware of my own grit, discipline & tenacity - & the tenacity of our team! It's a satisfying feeling. Adaptability is key, when it comes to surviving something like a global pandemic. I've always known that being able to pivot in response to the customer & the economy is an important trait as a business owner, but 2020 really showed me just how critical it is. It's a make or break trait. Going forward, we've got to keep our agility, our grit & our elasticity. We've got to keep our spirit of teamwork. And we've got to keep our finger on the pulse of what the world needs from OMC. That's how we survived. It's the secret sauce. And I'm excited to watch how we grow from here!
If you loved this weeks Female Founder Spotlight, shoot me and Oh my Cake a DM on Instagram with your favourite part of the feature, because we would love to hear from you & we are firm believers in supporting local, & eating cake is always a good idea!
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