Nike Majekodunmi is a lady on a mission to ensure we all get our sweet or indeed savoury fix at Nuts About Cakes, the baking emporium she founded and that has become a byword for yummy and affordable treats. However, this is not the usual story of a foodie entrepreneur of whom there are many, finding a niche in a market, pushing out a sick instagram feed and waiting for the DMs to come flying in for orders. Nike’s is a story that has passion, planning and because she is also the mother of three parenting, all in the proverbial mix. We caught up over a glass of wine or two at a gallery opening (oh, she’s also a serious Bella Stylista with fashion game to boot, we noted the Burberry arm-candy well-well!), to talk cakes, cookies, challenges and future plans.
Like many mumpreneurs, Nike’s business was borne out of doing something she loved and finding out that she was good enough at it for people to pay for the end-product:
“I started baking because i was passionate about it. However, I got into the business of baking totally unintentionally. It all started with a few cookie recipes that I found online and started trying out in the kitchen of my parents’ house. It became a weekend pastime to bake cookies for the family and to always have snacks available for visitors. As my recipes improved and I got more confident with what i was producing, I became a Martha Stewart and started gifting it to friends while visiting them.”
Oh, to have been one of those early-doors visitors to Chez Majekodunmi to assist in ‘quality control’! Serendipity played a role in the business growing with Nike reminiscing:
“The business aspect came by pure accident when I was offered money at a friend’s home gathering to make cookies for the kids. I had absolutely no idea about cost or pricing, but decided to take the offer….and a business was born.”
We’re all become used to celebrity chefs and bakers both here in Nigeria and globally, Nike was very much a pioneer in the industry in Nigeria and notes:
“The quest for innovation and growth has led to more interest and investment…For the baking industry in particular, it became glamorous…Following the influx of popular baking shows such as the ‘Cake Boss’ and ‘Great British Bake off’, the industry was revolutionized. People started pushing the boundaries with creativity or forging niches for differentiation. It suddenly became “cool” to be a baker.”
Nike was one of the ‘cool bakers’ although she is too modest to admit it and her online show on BattaBox had a cult following. The secret recipe to her success was being knowledgeable and unaffected and sharing her considerable expertise in a generous manner. She is also quick to note the importance of the enabling environment that she found herself operating in:
“The food and drinks industry over the past 10 years or so has seen a remarkable growth, dare I say shift.I have found that the Nigerian consumer is very accommodating, accepting and forgiving. Nowhere else do I think I would have had the courage or the audacity to venture into business. I feel that Nigeria right now is screaming for entrepreneurs.”
But not just any old entrepreneurs, but ones that like Nike, are effectively solving a problem. Apart from creating baked goods that customers fall in love with, she has also been very intentional in the shop spaces themselves. Enter a Nuts About Cakes store and you will find an interiors palette that is warm and inviting, you will also find a corner with toys and soft play items. It is very much a hub for young mothers to connect and create a community of their own, so critical in those formative months and years when it such a huge adjustment. The work-life balance, especially given that Nike has a young family is one that she has had to face head on and she notes:
“I have come to believe that the work life balance is not always constant. Sometimes there is work…a lot of work, usually when we are going through a growth or expansion phase, and sometimes there is good living, when I get to go away for holidays with my family.”
However she also adds that her current success “could not have been possible without my team at the office…I am able to delegate work to functional heads of departments and be confident that the business can run without my [constant] day to day involvement.” This is not to say that Nike is resting on her laurels, with numerous entrants into the market, she continues to innovate and expand her operations. One cannot touch upon this without asking her about how she and her team coped with the demolition of the Nuts About Cakes Rumens Road store which saw other businesses in the course of one morning, raised to the ground. Others would have been defeated, not so Nike:
“After losing our Ikoyi store, I was really overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that came our way. Also touching was the resilience of my staff. It actually propelled me to do more. We lost one and proceeded to open five more in Agungi, Oniru, Ikoyi, Gbagada and Victoria Island. Talk about a comeback of life!”
A comeback that now sees Nike considering continent-wide domination: “Our vision at Nuts About Cakes is to be a platform for creating jobs across Africa. We will therefore continue to do what we do best. Which is creating great tastes that provide memorable moments and experiences. By continuing to grow across the continent we hope to impact change in the lives of many.”
With her can-do approach and business model that clearly has strategy at its core, it is easy to see Nike achieving this. But more so, hers is a story that can inspire mothers both in Nigeria and across Africa to harness their talents in creating enduring value. From raising children to raising a generation of self-actualising colleagues and future business leaders, mumpreneurs the world over are at the heart of entrepreneurship. And when they’re maestros of cookies, cakes and all things delicious, we’re cheering them on all the harder!