Her hands are magical! When Lineo Lichaba, the National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained cake guru touches flour, she makes the kind of cakes that reveal rarest skill and passion. Their taste takes you to the seventh heaven.
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Hers is a raw skill that surprises many—hence the popularity of her cakes.
Her secret? “I love cakes,” she said.
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Any who doesn’t love cakes must have his head examined. But, good for her, she doesn’t just love them, she makes cakes that have no rival in shape and taste. “That is because I don’t only mix the cake ingredients well, I am also a sculptor, I curve the cakes like an artist.”
So fold your arms and listen to her story.
Before we start, let’s state facts about cakes. It has often been said that people need cakes because they want to celebrate something. That is not quite true. What is true is that people want to celebrate something because they need cakes. That’s it. Celebrations are often an excuse people make so they can eat cakes.
Oh boy! Don’t we make enough of those excuses!
There is a reason. Cakes are damn good! Nothing rivals the taste of a well-made cake.
So when she was young, Lineo Lichaba found that she was born in a family that gave a special attention to food. She would later find out why. Her mother was a food and nutrition teacher. So her home was a host for all kinds of books about food delicacies.
Her mother wouldn’t disappoint. “We would try all kinds of dishes,” she said.
But there was something that the young lady wasn’t aware of. Her love for cooking good foods was taking shape deep in her subconscious mind.
When she graduated from NUL, it was time to face the reality that others before her and others after her surely face: Unemployment. Of course she did get employed albeit briefly.
She then went into soul-searching.
What would she do?
It was not easy. But in time, she thought about cooking. The love for cooking which was instilled, even if intentionally, by her mother, was rekindled, never to go off. And she got hold of one idea and sticked to it.
She wanted to make cakes.
“Sticking to it is a genius,” they say. So she stuck to cakes through thick and thin. As usual with those who are destined to make a difference, she started out of nothing.
“Although I did take some basic courses, most of what I know now about cakes is what I taught myself. I did a lot of research.”
Unfortunately, she had no ingredients, and no equipment to start a business. She said, “I would often ask people to buy ingredients for themselves and then I would make them the cakes. Obviously, not every customer would agree to that kind of arrangement.”
Those that agreed were a great help because, “I would take all the money they paid me with and reinvested it back into my business. I would buy more ingredients and I would buy equipment, piece by piece (this, by the way, is a secret of a successful business).”
She was getting there.
Over time, she had gained enough confidence to move out of her kitchen to rent a place in town, in Mafeteng. That was when the whole new world opened up. People who never knew her business existed were now beginning to make enquiries and buying.
She was gaining exposure.
Those who know business understand that it is a matter of ups and downs. That moment did set in. She was finding a rent too much to swallow. She went back to the kitchen. But this time around, people knew her business.
Once back, she would even take advantage of technology. “It’s amazing!” She said. “I can now confidently say 99% of my customers I found on Facebook.”
So how did she grow her business through thick and thin?
Those who want to make it in business should be taking notes. “Persistence,” she said. Yes! Persistence! That’s the word.
When she started having customers outside of Mafeteng, that was the hardest part of her business. She had no car and guess what she did, “I used public transport to transport my cakes from Mafeteng to Maseru.”
She left no room for error in her execution.
“Even if a celebration would start at 1.00 pm in Maseru, I would leave Mafeteng at 7.00 a.m. Who knows what might happen along the way?” She was intent on delivering customers’ products in time. “That was hectic to say the least,” she recalled.
At one point she went into soul-searching again. Why was she putting herself through so much pain? Then she answered herself, as if to reaffirm what she already knew very well. She loved making cakes!
She still does.
But then, stars were aligned and she had accumulated enough money to buy a car. “Now I can use my own car to deliver anywhere,” she said with a smile.
She is planning to have a building so that she can multiply her production and sales.
Good luck for her.