Who is the person behind Thee Gifted Hands?
Tshepiso Nyakane, a young mother of two. I am a BCom Finance Honours graduate and work with numbers for a living.
How did the idea for this business begin for you?
I have always loved baking. I did home economics in school, and that is where the passion for baking emerged. I started Thee Gifted Hands in April 2016 when I was on maternity leave. The business was born out of a craving: I took a brave decision to bake a “real” cake and ice it. This was my first attempt at baking a cake, before that I only baked simpler confectionaries such as scones, biscuits, cupcakes, etc. I was proud of the outcome and decided to post it as my WhatsApp profile picture, and there was a lady who asked if I was selling cakes because she was having a baby shower, and I said, “Yes.” She asked me to send her my price list, which I didn’t have at the time – I googled market related prices to benchmark against. I baked her baby shower cake, and the rest is history.
Take us through the making of the cakes.
I stock up for whatever I need for the weekend by Wednesday, then bake my cakes on Thursday or Friday nights, depending on the number of orders or the technicality of the cakes I have to make. I then decorate them on Fridays. I recently hired a young man who assists with minor errands and deliveries.
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
I am inspired by people’s passions. When you look at my work, you realise that I focus on cakes that reflect people’s interests, passions, personalities and hobbies. The first question I ask when someone is looking for a cake is, “what do they like”? Then I get ideas and advise my customer on the kind of cake I can make for them. I am inspired by young, hardworking and successful individuals. I am inspired by people who leverage their passions to make a living and a success of themselves. Their dedication and drive makes me feel that anything is possible.
Did you ever think your brand would grow as it is growing now?
I never would have imagined. I have been in business for only two years, but the growth has been exponential and the support has been overwhelming. Thanks to social media, I get cake requests from all over the country. People love my work, and I am very humbled.
How do you deal with creative blocks and keep a positive mind-set?
When I am busy with a cake and get a creative block, I step away from the cake and take a break. Sleep mostly does wonders for my creativity as it refreshes my mind. So, that works for me.
Do you visualise your cakes beforehand?
Always. I either draw them or I would be in a cake supply shop and put together polystyrene and try to imagine what the finished product would look like. I imagine the end product with all my cakes.
Is there a specific place where you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired when I am in a cake supply shop. I see so many things like cutters, moulds, ingredients and get lots of ideas of how I can better my cakes.
Are you self-taught?
Most people don’t believe that I am self-taught. The only baking class I know is my Home economics class back in high school, 15 years ago. The rest has been trial and error, and it seems to work out well for me. I believe that is where my authenticity comes from.