Are you a graduate hunting for the job of your dreams? Are you depressed and drained because you have not gotten one that is your choice? Maybe this story is what you need to jolt you out of your fantasies. The business story of Baaba Brown– a sculptor, chef, baker, teacher, life coach, event planner, and entrepreneur is our business link this month.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a self-taught baker who does everything baking-pastries. I started all this eight years ago. The story about my business journey is interesting. I never wanted to be a baker or a chef or to do anything food. I’m a visual artist. After my first degree, I wanted to be a lecturer-sculptor so I continued with my master’s degree. However, work did not come readily as I expected and the ones that came had conditions I could not satisfy- I had to pay in cash and kind to get a job. So for a time, I was unemployed.
How did you start your business?
I enjoy watching video DIYs. My mum is a teacher/cook so I helped her from time to time. I had never thought of making cooking a job nor did I want to do anything with that skill because I wanted to be a high-profile personality sitting in an office doing big things.
So how did you end up doing what you do now?
It was at an old school reunion. Most of the friends talked about their accomplishments and struggles in life. Coming home from that meeting, I kept thinking about my life as an unemployed person in the next few years. It dawned on me to do something. I weighed my options and how I could use my creativity. Unconsciously, I had accumulated a wealth of tools and materials for cooking and baking by watching videos. Thus, I started with baking and cooking.
Having the skill and tools made it easy I suppose?
Not really. I sometimes feel I’m a perfectionist. Though I was starting a new chapter,I preferred to start with a distinct brand. One that was unique and would be loved by all. I gave out a lot of samples and requested reviews. By so doing I was also marketing my skills. However, that meant less income. My biggest exposure was when a friend entrusted me with her wedding planning and food. It boosted my confidence so much and before I realized I was on my tenth order- now I’d lost count.
Tell us about the other things you do.
Once I started using my skills, it has been one thing after the other. I’m always flooded with ideas. When it comes to mind and I do not do it I become restless until it is done. As a visual artist, I am versatile. I do earrings, flip flops, woven shirts, soap, flower pots, and herbal teas. I am also into ovens.
What about ovens?
As a self-taught baker, I have used sand to bake, small ovens, commercial ovens, gas cooker ovens, electric ovens, and many baking styles. I have learned the pros and cons of all these ovens and I can recommend to anyone the best oven to use. Oven accessories are scarce -oven thermometers, mitts, racks, sheets, and other baking tools. After training, I have to help my trainees get a good oven and its accessories to start their business. That’s how come I ventured into the sale of ovens.
Can you share with us some interesting things in your journey of harnessing your skills?
It’s good to share so I enjoy sharing my skills with young girls who have to depend on others for survival. I’ve trained six ladies already in baking and cake decorating and they are established. I don’t mind if other women groups come on board- churches, communities, and institutions.
At the moment I’ve started a program on kitchen product reviews on YouTube. A lot of women have kitchen appliances but unfortunately do not know how to use them. So I coach them on appropriate tool use.
I’m working on a project on helping Ghanaian women to know how to use social media tools to improve their small-scale businesses.
In 2017, I met a chef who saw potential in my work and introduced me to the Chefs Association of Ghana. Since then, I have worked to attain their standard. As I speak, I am a certified chef with the Association. From time to time, I’m called to judge cooking competitions and I have a program on the radio about cooking skills and recipes.
It’s just crazy passion that I do all that I do.Baaba Brown
What have been the challenging moments in this journey?
Marketing everything I do. Until recently, I didn’t know how to use social media tools. So most of my customers were acquaintances and referrals. Now as I learned to use these tools I see improvement in my customer base. That’s why I want to help other women.
Capital to buy things in bulk is another challenge. I love to use new tools that make my work easier, however, the soaring prices of tools and food items make it difficult to keep up.
Time, time, time. It seems the 24hrs is not enough for me. My work is a mood thing for me. I can’t stay idle; I have to be busy. If I’m not baking or cooking, I’m doing craftwork or learning a new skill. I’m a professional teacher so combining all my talents with teaching leaves me exhausted but very happy and accomplished.
Any comments for those in search of a job?
Sometimes, I regret that I hadn’t started earlier and that I didn’t harness all these skills. There are many graduates out there who have my kind of mentality from the beginning- I want to do that and nothing else. Please, if that job is not coming, try another thing, that may even be your ladder to success. Starting a business is very difficult but after some time things get better. If you are in school, don’t wait till you finish before you start. Create a brand now with friends so that they can patronize your business even after school, and refer others to you.
After all these years, I still learn new things -learning on the job is interesting. I make progress by improving on my mistakes and practicing more.
What is your brand and what are the products?
I do celebration cakes, pastries, pizza, kish, yogurt, fruit drinks, breakfast basket, food basket, event planning, herbal teas, flowerpots, and other sculptures. I also sell ovens, grills, and burners.
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