By Prudence Minayo
Black Forest House is a popular bakery with an enviable clientele base. They make quality cakes and pastries that are affordable. The business is the brainchild of Alice Simba who loved baking from a young age and was able to transform this hobby to a business.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Alice Simba grew up in a village in Kilifi. Growing up, she enjoyed cooking and baking. Together with her siblings, they would bake cakes on a jiko using locally available ingredients and sell them around the village. Raised in a large family also taught her a lot about hospitality.
A loved Hobby
She was not a fan of cakes baked in Nairobi and sought to create her own drawing inspiration from the cakes back home. At one point, she was a mother who had to go to work and attend college at the same time.
She would arrive in the house at 8PM and despite being tired, proceed to bake. The mother of three would walk across the street and use Ksh500 to buy charcoal, margarine, flour and other cake baking ingredients.
As she did not own an oven, she would proceed to bake a cake using the charcoal stove and cut it into slices. She would then sell the slices at Ksh50 to colleagues and people loved the taste.
Her first job taught her a lot about customer care, especially when it came to catering to their different demands and characteristics. She worked in the Human Resource department of an oil company.
In 2008, she decided to leave employment and pursue her baking passion. With support from her husband, the Black Forest House opened for business along Koinange street. She named it Black Forest as it is one of the most favorite cake among Kenyans.
So far, they make over fifteen varieties of the forest cakes and other pastries, such as pies and cookies.
In a past interview on KTN, she said what has helped her a lot is delegating responsibility and empowering those who work with her. She has also cultivated a good relationship with her bank and it has helped the business a lot. The bank has really helped her in terms of capital injection
“I prayed and took a leap of faith and this was an opening. I then talked to my husband and he saw the potential of the business. We put structures together and set off. After a while, our bank saw the viability of our business and gave us a loan to expand our operations with a capital injection of around Sh2 million,” she was quoted by a local daily.
Apart from baking, BlackForest house also teaches those with a love for baking including children.