Heavenly cakes

Archie Mokoka
CREATIVE: Van Rudolf in the kitchen

Teacher turned baker gets creative in the kitchen

For Malebogo Von Rudolf, life only makes sense when she’s being creative.

That’s why, in 2018, she bravely swapped her job as a Design and Technology (D&T) teacher at Ledumang Senior Secondary School to focus on baking cakes.

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Though D&T is a subject that demands creativity, the 40-year-old felt she had reached the end of that road and her artistic juices were not flowing freely. So, after much soul-searching, she quit and started Heavenly Cakes.

Four years later, and she has no regrets.

“As we grow, we evolve. I don’t believe you should do one thing and believe that it’s what you are. I’m an artistic creative and creative people are not limited. I also didn’t want to have ‘should have’ regrets,” Rudolf tells Voice Money from her house in Block 6.

A small gust of wind blows the unmistakable and inviting aroma of baking cakes into the garden.

At the back of the house, construction is well underway. Von Rudolf explains she is building a mini bakery.

“The demand for my cakes is growing among corporate and parastatal organisations, as well as individuals who need them for celebrations,” she reveals proudly.

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Since the outbreak of Covid-19 at the start of 2020, desperate to make ends meet, bakers have mushroomed everywhere. To stay ahead of the competition, Von Rudolf says she does not only sell cakes.

“I sell the product but also service and experience. I have learnt a lot from observing Coke. They sell the same product but over the years they make it more exiting through packaging and marketing. In that same spirit, I constantly come up with new ways to improve the customer experience. I have developed relationships with my customers and they keep coming back for the quality we offer.”

Heavenly cakes
TASTY ART: A Heavenly masterpiece

While the mention of Covid-19 is likely to bring back bleak memories of lost freedom and income for many, the same cannot be said for Heavenly Cakes. In fact, Von Rudolf says it was quite the opposite.

Faced with unprecedented loss of lives, families realized the importance of celebrating love while they still could and this kept Von Rudolf and her two employees busy.

“I was overworked,” she states happily.

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Though she advertises on social media, with a Facebook following verging on 17, 000, Von Rudolf says her biggest advertising is word of mouth from satisfied customers.

CEDA can finance the expansion of businesses like Heavenly Cakes but they are required to submit business plans and other requirements to qualify. Many find this challenging and Heavenly Cakes is no exception.

“I don’t know how to do a business plan; I know how to bake cakes! On top of that, I wear many hats as a small business owner. The financing process is simply too complicated and demanding. I can’t afford to hire experts,” she reasons.

Nevertheless, the future looks bright for Heavenly Cakes, which has already started supplying restaurants in Gaborone.

Was it not for lack of bakery space and cost of expansion, Von Rudolf says she would be supplying more. In time, she hopes to expand around and out of Botswana and do more custom-made cakes.

The mother-of-two believes there’s more to life than just chasing after money. If your driving force is passion for your talent, she says it all becomes effortless. That is also the advice she has for wannabe cake makers and anybody wishing to delve into the challenging business world.

She is, however, quick to add, “What you do should be aligned to your skills set and don’t blindly follow advice from friends. Everyone has some God given talent which is reliable and dependable if followed.”

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