This week, we’re delighted to be joined by Lawson Omoruyi – Pro member and owner of Wow Cakes Enterprises. Lawson shares his inspiring story of building his own successful cake decorating business, and offers a glimpse into cake decorating life in Benin City, Nigeria.
Do you believe in serendipity? Well, that’s how my cake journey began. I had just finished studying Microbiology at University of Lagos and was making plans to emigrate to Canada to join my sister. Fate had other plans. Confused and a bit frustrated, I got heavily involved in Alumni activities and read lots of self-help books to keep my spirits up.
That’s when I saw on TV a promo for an Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme. I was immediately hooked and applied. I was thrilled to be the only one from my town to be at the class, which was held in Lagos. Fast forward a few years and – armed with my business plan, company registration and lots of hope – I set up shop on August 1, 2007 here in Benin City, Nigeria.
I would say am largely self-taught baking wise, but I took some private classes on making fondant and flowerpaste from scratch from the head decorator of my top competitor in town. Cake decorators in Western countries have so much at their disposal compared to us here in Africa. For instance, I make my fondant in batches. No marshmallows, but with powdered gelatin, icing sugar, glucose, glycerine, crisco fat, flavouring and a touch of CMC. My digital measuring scale + cups and spoons come in very handy!
I’ve been baking since high school, but never thought I would making a living out of it. Moist cakes are usually easier to achieve with a box cake mix. For those of us who make from scratch, a soaking syrup of sorts is ideal. Once my cakes are out the oven, I let them cool for around seven minutes in the pan. Then I pop them out and use a pastry brush to apply soaking syrup all over the cake while it’s still relatively hot.
I’m an avid reader and learner, so for skills such as making sugar models, flowers and various trending cake techniques I resort to cake books, cake magazines, blogs and, of course, the Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School! I would also recommend taking classes or joining live demos. In the past, I’ve had to make the most of what I have out of necessity.
Who would have thought I could make a living from cakes?! It’s a way of expressing my creativity. Being a hobbyist photographer also helped too, and I’ve picked up digital editing skills from my photographer friends. The look on my clients’ faces when they see their cakes is priceless, and am doubly pleased when they rave about the taste/texture afterwards.
Price is a major issue here in Nigeria, as bespoke cakes are seen as a luxury and considering the average income here. My shop is close to a university, so most of my first clients were the doctors, nurses and lecturers who taught there. My cakes weren’t particularly polished at the very start, but my passion for WOW! Cakes Enterprises won customers over as repeat clients.
It has been an amazing journey, and I would not trade it for anything. I joined Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School as a Pro in January this year. His Silver Elegance Cake tutorial was the one that won me over. The wealth of knowledge on PBSS platform is mind-boggling and I will forever be grateful for all I have learnt so far. It’s an honour to write this blog post, my Mom will be so proud.
Thank you, Lawson for writing such a wonderful blog post. If you’ve been inspired by Lawson’s story and fancy signing up to become a Pro member today – take a look at our membership options page.