Johannesburg – Some of Omphile Magasa’s favourite childhood memories are of spending time in the kitchen with her grandmother as they baked up a storm.
Little did she know that this ritual would result in the birth of her own baking business, ‘Baked by Opy’, with some of its bespoke goods being sold in Spar retailers across Johannesburg.
“Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would start my very own baking business,” the 32-year-old admitted.
‘Baked by Opy’ started as a side hustle while Magasa was still employed as an IT mainframe storage specialist at a prestigious multinational technology company. It was started with no outside investments, only with the savings Magasa accrued.
But at the end of 2017, she was retrenched and in a desperate bid to keep her finances afloat, Magasa decided to fully dedicate herself to this new enterprise.
Four years later, ‘Baked by Opy’ has a loyal customer base across the province with some of its sweet treats being supplied to BelAir, Bedfordview and Blackheath SuperSpars.
“Our rainbow cakes are our most popular items as we don’t only supply them to the above mentioned Spars, but customers order these directly from us too,” she said.
The local baking business is also a 100% black female owned business which employs four other young females.
“My name Omphile means ‘to give or has given’ and I believe I am living through my name,” she explained.
“It brings me a lot of joy and peace to employ someone who is in need of a job, to know that someone can put food on the table, have shelter or buy their kids clothes.”
While the lockdown imposed by the novel coronavirus has hit many small businesses hard, Magasa has admitted that while their income has not been steady, they were determined to keep their employees in a job during the countrywide shutdown.
“It was never an option for me to let any of my staff go during these hard times and instead I told them that we just need to keep working, somehow God always sees us through.”
The baking business boss admitted that managing her diverse employees and clientele, and operating during difficult financial times has been the biggest challenge she has ever faced.
But she sees this as a mere learning curve.
“It has been up and down but I take each day’s challenges as they come. I have a very strong team that is committed to their work and the success of the business as much as I am, so when times are not good, at least we are all still motivated as a team.”
While Magasa has no formal baking training or qualifications, she believes that the lessons learnt from her grandmother has equipped her well in this entrepreneurial venture.
“The best advice my grandmother has given me is to always bake with love and patience. She then went on to say because if I do this, it will show in the finished product and you will be able to taste the difference so this for me went a long way as our cakes are not just nicely made, but they also taste good.”
While the IT industry might be completely different to the baking world, Magasa has found that the skills she acquired from the technology world are helping her with her own business.
“I would say that time management and processes are two things that they both have in common. I deal with clients who need their products on specific days and times so it’s very important to have good time management skills and the processes come in very handy as this allows my staff to be able to execute the same work standards even in my absence.”
‘Baked by Opy’ might only be a few years old but Magasa has big dreams for the business.
“My ultimate goal is to have a mass production warehouse where our cakes are delivered to neighbouring countries but I know that it’s not going to happen overnight and that it will take a lot of hard work.”
Her advice to other budding entrepreneurs is simple: “Start while you still have some form of income because if you resign to start you’ll end up spending more than what comes in and before you know it you’ll think your business is not doing well or a waste of time.”
“Be prepared to go through the struggles before the riches.”