We caught up with Davy Tsopo, owner of Cakey By Davy – an inspirational home baker who managed to turn a bad situation into a huge success.
Davy Tsopo is a humble family man, who went from being retrenched to becoming an acclaimed SA cake boss and speciality baker extraordinaire – teaching us all to never underestimate the power of social media, a supportive network, hard work and tenacity!
We caught up with the Joburg-based baker and small business owner. Here’s what Davy had to say.
What made you start Cakey By Davy?
In February 2020, my wife and I were blessed with a baby boy, Travis. One month later, I lost my cleaning job because of the level 5 lockdown. The restaurant temporarily closed and I was retrenched. During the lockdown, we had nothing to do so we started watching different TV shows and we discovered Buddy the Cake Boss from America. I was so inspired by his work! My neighbour, Doctor Smith, gave me his wifi password so that I could watch funny videos on YouTube. I didn’t watch any funny videos, though – I started checking out Cake Boss videos on YouTube and making notes.
Come May, I started practising what I was watching on YouTube. I started baking muffins and scones, and selling them to my neighbour’s staff and other locals. My first cake order was from Charlotte, a friend of mine – my biggest challenge yet as I struggled to perfect the icing, but I persevered. Charlotte posted the cake on her Instagram feed, tagging me, and that was the beginning of everything. Cakey By Davy was born. Another friend, Inge, organised a Zoom meeting with Tania, a friend in the UK, and she taught me everything I now know about icing – and the cake orders started rolling in!
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What did you find most challenging when you started out on the cake-perfecting journey?
The most challenging part was that customers were ordering some technical speciality cakes and I wasn’t able to do them at first. It took a lot of work and practice to get to where I am today. My wife was back at work full-time so I had to look after Travis during the day and make cakes during the night.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a small business owner as well as the most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of being a small business owner is time (or rather the lack thereof). Running around sourcing ingredients and baking supplies and working as well is a lot to juggle, but it is lovely because you work at your own pace and you will be working for your pocket. I’m now earning triple what my salary was and I have more time with family.
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On average, how long does it take to bake and decorate one of your signature bakes from start to finish?
I need about three hours to finish a speciality cake.
What is your favourite item to bake and decorate, and why?
My favourite cake is one with South African flags on it; I’ve done a few with German flags too. I enjoy making them the most.
What would your advice be to any bakers or small business owners starting out?
The advice I can give to small business owners is you have to work hard and save as well. Never give up, no matter how bad the situation is. My business is doing well now and I just want to thank my wife, Tatie, my customers, sponsors and the world at large for the lovely support and for sharing my story.