Dear Africana Woman,
hey honey! Another week. More stories to tell. But where to start? So last week I was back in the office after a very long time. Gurl, I thought I was on a runway, coming in every day with a ka heel, jus slaying from head to toe. PWAHAHA The truth is I have worn out my flats and the only shoes I could wear were heels. lol. So if you are going to wear a skuna gogo you might as well make the rest of the outfit make sense, innit? I sorted myself out and I'm back to normal. Oh then I had an incident with glitter when I was trying to put on makeup. I looked like a troll.
HAHAHA the accuracy. That's exactly what happened. Just give me lipstick and I am good.
Yoh! Last week I was not playing. I hit the ground running. I had lined up some interviews for the podcast and I interviewed for She's The Boss show. In addition, the Africana Woman Visionaries partnered with BuildHer (a crowdfunding platform built specifically for women of African descent) to host a pop up master class around financing your business. You can find the replay of this in the free Africana Woman Visionaries facebook group, by the way. The TechUp UK ladies also invited me to present to their community. We had an absolute blast. It was a much needed opportunity to practice self care. Then let's not forget that the blog and podcast both launched. Eh the love and support is amazing. I love you guys. But enough about me and the amazingness that is the women and good men that I meet every day. Tell me about you. What have you been up to? If you had to rate 2021 so far on a scale of 1-10 what would you choose. Drop it in the comments.
Is there anyone else out there who has never celebrated Valentine's Day? This is the week of madness and it just occurred to me that I have never done anything personal or romantic for this day. I digress. My most memorable Valentine's day was in 2014 I think. We had started the cake business and run a very successful marketing campaign. We were making cakes and customised cupcakes. When I say customised I mean, people could order any message under the sun, from Sweety Bun to My Kandolo. My friend, people ordered from Lusaka, Kabwe, Kapiri. because it is fresh food we can only bake about two days before the actual day. We told the Lusaka people we would deliver on the 13th. We had 40 cake orders and 400 cupcakes to make. Awe suwa we samwad, money was just flying in.
Now at the time it was just me and Mum working in the business. At the time we were based in Kabwe primarily. She would bake, and I would decorate. So we looked at the workload and decided that we would bring in some help. There was a local baker who was a Chatty Cathy. We also roped in our tenants from the flat at the back of our property.
Day of the 12th
We were somewhat on track. I decorated like I have never decorated in my life. We prioritised decorating the Lusaka cakes as we would be delivering a day early. Then we would come and finish the Kabwe cakes when we go, got back.
Day of the 13th
We woke up early, and started to make space in the Prado by putting up the seats. Can I tell you, a Prado cannot fit 30 cakes and 150 cupcakes. Do not try this at home. Like there is just no space for all of them to sit flat. LOL Clearly we had not thought this through. hmm yah. I think we ended up putting some on top of each other just praying the boxes wouldn't fall through. That's how we went. I think Mum was even decorating some cupcakes in the back. Then for whatever reason she tasted one. It was a chocolate cupcake. She quickly spat it out. She said they were bitter. It's like there was too much soda. So we are like okay that means we cannot deliver these and will have to come back to Lusaka tomorrow. We continue the journey. Guys this was the days when it used to take two hours to get into the city centre from the outskirts of the city. Whether it was because of the one lane, or potholes. Who knows. Traffic was insane. So we arrived in Lusaka later than we expected.
We had agreed that people would pick up from weya, Manda Hill at 11 or 12. Awe suwa people were showing up at all kinds on hours. We were supposed to be there for an hour. Did we not leave kuma 17. Ninshi not even all the cakes had been picked up. This car followed us on the way out of Lusaka to pick up the cake. At this point, we know we still have work to do when we get home. AND we have to re-bake the cupcakes. We must have got back to Kabwe around 20 hrs only to find there was not enough baking powder. Why? Because we had budgeted and bought according to the amounts that we made and we did not budget for messups. Breathe. (I am reliving this day again in mind) . So we called a taxi driver from town to buy the baking powder for us and we would go pick it up. Now KuMushi Garden is out there guys. Gravel roads which were not very well maintained at the time. It was the middle of the rainy season. In Zambia when it rains it pours, there is no ama half half. And of course when that happens the roads suddenly become a series of lakes.
I remember reaching a particularly huge lake in the road and looking around trying to decide what to do. Should I brave the middle not knowing how deep it is? Should I try to go along the side which was about half a meter wide and would literally require the car to be at a 90 degree angle from its normal upright position. I cannot remember which one I chose. It was either the car would die or I would die. But at that point the car was more important lol. I picked up the baking powder and we started baking.
I hope you are noting that there was no opportunity to sleep.
14th February - Valentines Day (Doom Day)
Realistically, both Mum and I could not go to Lusaka as we had done the day before. Which we really should not have done to start with. There was shitloads to do. (Yes I began speaking French by then). So around midnight I said to her, go and sleep so as you can drive to Lusaka. I stayed up working. She woke up refreshed, we still had to put together these customised cupcakes. I love you. Sweetheart, Love of my life, Chimwemwe, Thank you .... blah blah blah. Listen we got to maybe 10am and said we will not manage to fulfil all the orders for Lusaka. And by the way, all the customers from all three towns were calling me to find out where their orders were. I literally got to a point where I could not get the work done because I was on the phone. mhm. Mum left at 10am for Lusaka. I stayed behind with some help from tenants.
Listen bless their hearts but they were not bakers. So unskilled help is like no help hey. We had received a particularly large number of cupcake orders from a university which is a little out of town. So in the afternoon those were the orders I was trying to fulfil. And I still had to go deliver them. We got to late afternoon. Still baking and decorating. Then what happens? Power goes, faithful Zesco cuts the electricity. You know what, that was when I lost it. It broke me. I was literally holding a cupcake sticking the words I LOVE YOU, whilst I was wailing. I cried!!! I wailed through decorating those cupcakes like someone had died
The couple were just looking at me like she's gone mad. Mum wasn't going to make it back on time for me to deliver the cupcakes to the university. Therefore, I hired a cab to take me there around 17hrs. Are you tracking with me all these extra expenses?
Got to the university and delivered about 3/4s of the order. Then came back to try and finish them to be delivered the next day. All the while the customers we could not deliver to were calling upset. hehehe Guys don't try this at home. Mum arrived back in Kabwe in the early evening. The rest of that night is really a daze. All I know is that it was the first time I had slept in 3 days.
The next day I think we delivered to the University. We had to send a ton of money back to really pissed off clients. I swore that day that I never wanted to see another cupcake again. We issued an official apology on our social media page. Funny enough people were very nice about it. The cakes were all delivered. It was those CUPCAKES that did us in!
Moral of the story, GURL, if you haven't learned more than one lesson from this story, there is something wrong with you. But I will break it down for you anyway, especially for my entrepreneurs:
Know your capacity as a business at your current size. There is no harm in saying no.
Do not over promise what you cannot deliver. This just compromises your quality, which is your whole reputation boo.
Do not get excited by money. We paid SOOO much in unexpected expenses and refunds. We basically gave people free cakes
Plan thoroughly. Look at everything with a fine tooth comb from every angle.
Take into account worst case scenarios
Add miscellaneous on your budget line
During peak seasons keep your product as standard as possible. Custom what? For who?
Ensure your mode of delivery can actually fit your products. Especially in a peak period.
Now this is the important one - YOU CANNOT BE EVERYTHING IN THE BUSINESS especially not in peak periods. I'm sorry. I am not shouting at you. I just want you to get how important this is. You cannot be baker, decorator, receptionist, delivery woman, public relations ALL at the same time. Don't do it. Just don't it. Find the necessary help that is skilled yah.
Alright y'all. This was the Valentine's Day that I will never forget. Do you think we did anything the next year? I was like nix. It was an experience for sure. Nonetheless, what do you guys have planned for the day of love? Please let me know so that I can live vicariously through you, coz I don't have a boo. Yeah? Thank you Darling. My business people trying to make a killing in this peak season, all the best. Make sure you look after yourself. Okay Honey.
So have an AMAZING week. Sending you so much Love. Let me know in the comments what you thought of this story. If you are new here, Sis, Subscribe, what are you waiting for? You will be receiving a love letter every week. My Live Hard Bae's I love you. Thank you for your continued support. Guys remember the Africana Woman podcast drops a new episode every Saturday at 8am Central African Time. Elo the episode this week is like a movie. So much drama and suspense. You gotta here it to believe it. Please subscribe and share the blog and podcast with your friends. Finally, you can catch me on Instagram @Chulu_byDesign. I gotta run. Remember to love yourself flaws n all and attract the life you truly desire.