Home Business Balancing education and business: The self-taught baker behind Totally Caked Co

Balancing education and business: The self-taught baker behind Totally Caked Co

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By Timothy Inifiri Jnr

Try scrolling down through Totally Caked Co’s official Facebook page, you’ll see mesmerizing images of amazingly designed Red Velvet, Vanilla, Chocolate and many more cakes for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and all type of occasions.

23 year old Sylvia Szetu the lady behind Totally Caked Co, started her love for baking in 2020 through YouTube, while the rest of the world was going through the global COVID-19 lockdown.

It all started when she wanted to surprise her younger brother by baking a cake for his birthday.

“I watched all the recipes in youtube and other social media sites and decided to give it a try, from there on it became a hobby for me during my free times”.

“I also love decorating things which I also put into the cakes I bake, whether they are how the customers wanted or from my own imagination”, she told SBM Online.

The pass-time hobby then became a passion as the then teenager began taking orders from close friends and families who were her first customers.

“Aftewards I started baking cakes for my close friends and relatives and getting their feedbacks which really helped me improve a lot”.

“It was them (family & friends)and especially my dad, that encouraged me into starting Totally Caked Co.”, she added.

As time goes by, more and more people living in and around Honiara begin noticing her talent and that is when the loads of orders started coming in.

“As the number of customers started climbing, we’ve decided to try social media through Facebook and Instagram which would make it easy for the customers to place their orders”.

“One of highlights which motivated me was baking a cake for the wife of former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and that made me so proud for my work”, Ms Szetu highlighted.

With the cake businesses running smoothly, the Double Major in Data Analysis and Computer Science student at the University of South Pacific (USP)says that often as much as possible she tries to balance both her education and the cake business.

“There are not as many orders during the weekdays compared to the weekends, so I usually have enough time to focus on my studies and assignments”, she said.

With the help of her other three siblings, Sylvia said it is much easier for her to cope with the huge workload that she’s having.

“I also taught my siblings a little about baking, it is my brother that helps me out with the baking and my two little sisters help out in the icing when I am often not around”.

“I think without their help Totally Caked will not be where it is today, so I am really blessed to have them by my side at all times”, she expressed.

With the success comes the challenges, with one of the main one being work space with all of her cakes being baked at their kitchen home.

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“With the limited work and storage space at home, I often reject some of my orders which is something that is not very much pleasant for me but it is what it is”.

“Another challenge I face more often is customers no picking up their orders which leads to loss of money which is not always good for business”, Ms Szetu expressed.

The self taught baker also opened up about her plans of one day opening a little cake shop somewhere in town and to expand her cake menus.

“The aim is to open a little shop or set-up somewhere in the near future and also expand the menu options and add more different flavors to the cakes”, she said.

So, from her little successful cake business which is now noticed by many, Sylvia urged every youth in and around the country that there are many ways out there to be successful and that it is up to each one to find it.

“My advice for our youths is to make the most out of their talents and to start small in order to be successful because there are great number of opportunities out there for them to venture into”.

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