Cakes for all occasions

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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IN LOVE WITH CAKES: Natashia Ah Ben, co-owner of Delicious Cakes, at their Apia branch.

IN LOVE WITH CAKES: Natashia Ah Ben, co-owner of Delicious Cakes, at their Apia branch. (Photo: Ivamere Nataro)

If you’re into cakes, then you will love the scrumptious products of Delicious Cakes.

Owned and operated by couple, Natashia and Francis Ah Ben, the name Delicious Cakes speaks for itself, producing mouthwatering pastries and chocolate cookies to the delight of many of their trusted customers and followers. 

In May this year, the couple opened their second branch in Savalalo, Apia to cater for their many customers living within the town area and the increasing demand for their products. 

“This was my husband’s and I’s idea because we had a lot of comments from our customers at the Lotopa branch that they love our cakes, they love our products but they find it really difficult driving out to Lotopa like before our closing time, because we close at six in the evening. 

“So we thought by opening this branch, we would make it accessible for our customers in town, make it easier for them to pop in and pick up what they need from us, rather than have to fight the traffic to go all the way to Lotopa,” Natashia said.  

It took a lot of saving over the years to open their Apia branch because they had faced difficulties in getting their loan approved. 

“We applied for a loan to open this branch, but it got turned down so we had to do a lot of saving and find the money to buy equipment that we need to start this up. We saved for a long time. Just the freezer alone is quite expensive,” she said.

For Natashia, challenges that present itself to her are windows of opportunities.

“I don’t like to look at things as challenges but as opportunities. I don’t like the word challenge because it has a cut down side to it. When things come out in hard ways than normal, I think of ways to fix it and look for ways to solve it proper.”

Mastering the skills of baking and decorating wedding cakes, birthday cakes, reunions and cakes for every occasion, was part of Natashia’s bloodline. 

The recipes she uses are all her grandmother’s, which she passed on to her mother, Adria. According to Natashia, her mum owned Adria's Cakes in Lotopa, but when she retired, she took over the business rebranding it to Delicious Cakes. 

“I grew up baking. I was a child in the cake shop, baking cakes, creaming cakes and stealing cupcakes. This is my life. This is all I have ever known, decorating and baking,” Natashia said. 

“Everything is made from scratch in our cake shop. We don’t use cake mix or ready-made stuff from overseas. All my cakes are my grandmother’s and mother’s recipes, so the family recipes were passed down to us.  So these are all her recipes and everything I know, is everything my mother taught me.”

Natashia said she studied to be a nurse in New Zealand but it was natural for her to blend into the cake making industry when she returned to Samoa. 

“I was always there to help my mum in her cake shop. For me, the core thing was to help my family and be there however they want me to help. So after university, my mum needed an extra hand in the cake shop, so it was easier for me to just come back and help her.”

She said their standard cakes made every day are chocolate cakes, butter cakes, lemon butter cakes and vanilla sponge cake, which is their more affordable range. 

“We do carrot cakes, pineapple pies and chocolate pies, but for products like that, customers have to give us a week’s notice.

“In terms of ingredients, whatever we can source locally, we do, like our banana cakes are made from local bananas and lemon cake, from local limes and lemons. We don’t have Flour Mills in Samoa we source from overseas through Ah Liki Wholesale.”

Natashia acknowledged that major competition for the business are home bakers who sell their products on Facebook and operate without business licenses and are not paying taxes. 

“There are lots of competitions and it’s really hard to differentiate yourself from other similar businesses because it’s practically the same, but I guess it’s the mutual trust between you and your customers that both have built over the years is what counts. I don’t see them (cake making businesses) as competitors but people who I can work with.” 

She said the business is earning enough to cater for their expenses. 

“Like any new business, it’s not going to be exploding straight away; everything needs to build up in its own time.”

Delicious Cakes employs about six people and has plans to create new products for customers in the town area.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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