21 QUESTIONS with Bella of iambrownie & Brownie’s Cakeries
Bella is a blogger and YouTuber who enjoys baking. She calls the kitchen her happy place and she just loves the rush of large orders and creating tasty desserts. The cherry on top is that she’s just as sweet as the treats she makes. It was a joy getting to chat with her and I really enjoyed this interview. She talks about how she got into baking and blogging, her main challenge so far and why she believes that “true connections are made by true people”. I’m so excited to see all the great things she’ll do with her baking and blogging careers. Enjoy!
1. Tell us what you do for a living and how long you’ve been working at your own business?
I’ve been a blogger for three years, a baker for two and I’m a full time student of Politics and International Relations
2. How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur?
I honestly thought I would end up being a lawyer or a doctor but not because my parents wanted that life for me. They were always very supportive and liberal towards my hopes and dreams. When I started to battle with anxiety, I needed an outlet and that’s how I found both blogging and baking. When I realized how much of an impact I could make doing the things I love, I knew I didn’t, don’t want to do anything else. I’m currently in University studying politics and International relations but that’s most for interest sake at this point.When I started to battle with anxiety, I needed an outlet and that’s how I found both blogging and baking. Click To Tweet
3. At what point did you make the decision to start your business? What convinced you? How did you generate initial capital (if applicable)?
I decided to make my blog a business only recently. I started to grow a readership and attract attention on social media and I kept being told how much I could benefit from monetising the whole thing. The best part was that it didn’t require half as much capital as most businesses do because It’s mostly online work.
As for my bakery, it’s been a bit tougher to kick that off because I go to school 5 days out of the week. I decided to make it a business as soon as I felt as though I was good enough. I had to save up the little I could to start out with little batches at a time. In fact, I lost so much money because I felt guilty charging people for what I enjoyed doing.
I lost so much money because I felt guilty charging people for what I enjoyed doing. Click To Tweet
4. How was the response from your SO/parents/family? (Especially if you decided to leave a paid job/not do what you studied in school).
My mother seems to really be at peace knowing that I’m good at things I actually enjoy. She’s extremely supportive as long as I keep my grades up and prioritize. I don’t think she expects me to be career driven, in fact, she’s been saving up for my bakery, lol.
5. How did you build a customer base? How long did it take you to have a satisfactory enough number of customers (if you already do)?
SOCIAL MEDIA. A lot of people that come to me, know me off social media and I guess they think I’m reliable enough to trust with their businesses and their bellies. I don’t have a satisfactory number of clients in either business but for different reasons. Baking-wise, I’ve had to turn down jobs because of my school schedule and for the blogging, it’s still so new in Nigeria, I’m still at the point that I have to prove my worth daily to Nigerian companies just to get some attention.A lot of people that come to me, know me off social media - @thebrowniebird Click To Tweet
6. What challenges did you face at the beginning, besides the usual electricity and internet hassles? And how did you cope? What challenges do you still face currently?
Ignorance. Many people are under the impression that they can do what you’re doing and they don’t need you. I still face this challenge till date but I’ve learnt that you have to make the most of your environment and utilize it to your advantage. I’ve acknowledged that sometimes I will have to work for less than I would ordinarily simply to build a kind of relationship with people.A lot of people are under the impression that they can do what you’re doing and they don’t need you. Click To Tweet
7. What do you love the most about what you do? How have things changed since you first started?
For blogging, I think what I love most is the engagement. I love the interaction I get to have with people far and wide and I love that people trust me and my opinion. It’s a confidence booster
For baking, I’m obsessed with large orders. Every time there’s an event or a special holiday, I’m giddy because I love getting knee deep in frosting and seeing my work laid out in front of me. I also love seeing people bite into stuff and make sounds lol.I love getting knee deep in frosting and seeing my work laid out in front of me. - @thebrowniebird Click To Tweet
Things have changed in both spectrums in that I’m more confident in my craft really.
8. Businesses are becoming quite popular in recent times. It feels like a lot of people want to become entrepreneurs. How do you deal with competition in your field? Is that something you struggle with?
It’s definitely a struggle but I’m so happy so many people want to be self-sufficient. I think the real issue is that there’s so much more pressure to make yourself stand out in the sea of businesses.
9. What’s the biggest lesson starting a business taught you?The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that I need to be shamelessly myself in whatever I do. Click To Tweet
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that I need to be shamelessly myself in whatever I do. It’s tempting to put yourself of your business in a fraudulent light to get attention but true connections are made by true people.
10. There’s always a bit of a money vs passion debate; What do you think should be the motivation for starting a creative business, and why?
Passion most definitely! But we can’t deny the fact that it’s easier to pursue your passion when you are getting money as well, you know?
11. What would you say has been the worst time/experience so far in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Dealing with difficult people! It never gets easy, from clients changing their minds to trying to debate fair prices. It gets dramatic sometimes.
12. If you had to choose three qualities anyone starting a business needs to develop/have what would they be?
Patience, Consistency and Faith in your idea.
13. How do work through times when things are at a low? How do you get back up? How do you deal with criticism and bad feedback?
I look for inspiration in people who are doing what I want to do. I ask questions, sit and regroup. As for criticism, when you get, first confirm its constructive and then make yourself better, not just for others but for you as well
14. What sacrifices have you had to make to grow your business?
Besides financially, I’ve frankly had to give up a lot of my social life.I’ve had to give up a lot of my social life. Click To Tweet
15. What has been your most proud business achievement so far & what future goals (that you can share) do you have for your business?
-Most proud moment:
* Making more than 100 cupcakes and a two tier cake!
* Getting paid to have my face on someone else’s brand!
* Start my own family friendly bakery
* Have my face on a billboard as a blogger
16. What do you wish you knew about starting a business; what would you do differently?
I wish I knew that making money doesn’t necessarily mean MAKING MONEY because receiving money doesn’t mean you’re even breaking even, lol. But there’s nothing I would do differently.making money doesn’t necessarily mean MAKING MONEY because receiving money doesn’t mean you’re breaking even Click To Tweet
17. Would you ever leave your full time job to focus on your side hustle?
I do plan to go into my businesses full time after school, God willing.
18. Do you think there’s enough support for small business owners in Nigeria? What do you think would be helpful?
I definitely don’t think there’s enough support for small businesses. It would be helpful if small businesses had special loan offers that were actually accessible.It would be helpful if small businesses had special loan offers that were actually accessible. Click To Tweet
19. What are three things that are part of your morning ritual?
I listen to my Abide app, Check out Instagram and call my boyfriend lol. Boring, I know!
20. What three people in your field or not inspire you the most?
– This is easy!
21. What trait(s) do you love most about yourself as a business owner i.e any personal qualities you feel have helped you excel? What advice would you give to anyone currently struggling to stay afloat/ just starting their business/contemplating starting a business in Nigeria?You will fall several times in the process of running ANY business. Click To Tweet
Hmm, I think I bounce back very easily. I’m quite resilient which I’m happy for business wise. You will fall several times in the process of running ANY business. You have to be willing to accept that it happens but it can’t hold you back for too long. Fail but fail fast and move on.
Bella is a blogger at iambrownie.com and baker for Brownie Cakeries. She is currently in her final year studying Politics and International Relations.
Connect with Bella
Brownie’s Cakeries Instagram: @browniescakeries
Read our last interview with freelance writer and editor Joy Ehonwa here.