Cakes & Co, a family business located in the heart of Soshanguve in Block G, gives residents something new to nibble on.
While Soshanguve, like other townships in Pretoria, is famous for offering a local twist of the bunny chow, popularly called sphatlho, and chisa-nyama specialities, Cakes & Co has taken it up a notch and brought in a bit of fresh air to the kasi (township).
The business, owned by sisters, Tsakane, 44, Khensani, 42, and Tinyiko, 39, has been received well by those with a sweet tooth and the community at large.
The sisters said they were initially four girls, with two brothers, but they lost their eldest sister, Kapu, to lupus in 2013.
They described Kapu as their rock and someone who loved cakes. And, they said, they wished she was still alive to celebrate their achievements with them.
Kapu died from the systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks tissues and organs. Doctors explain that the inflammation caused by lupus affects different parts of the body including joints, skin, kidney, blood cells, heart and lungs.
Tinyiko said: “We only discovered a day before she died that she had lupus, and it was heartbreaking.”
The girls said baking was something they grew to love as their mother is a baker, and she once owned a pie shop before she started baking bread. Tinyiko said her mother still bakes scones for their shop, and ensured they never ran out of stock.
The trio said they all decided to leave their day jobs to give their all to the business, with Tsakane and Tinyiko trading their corporate jobs for their aprons, while Khensani left the retail business to work with her sisters.
The sisters bring different strengths to the business - Tsakane is the barista, hailed for making the best coffee in the neighbourhood.
Her cappuccino attracts people from near and far and from all walks of life. The other two are the bakers and are in charge of ensuring that the delicacies are always on point.
They work from a uniquely decorated container, made with all things recycled, from pallet fencing, and furniture to the deck. The tables and chairs at the chilling area are also made from pallets with cushions for comfort.
Upon arrival, one is met with the sight and smell of freshly baked cakes, cupcakes and cookies among other things, while the coffee aroma tops it off.
The business is two-months-old, and they said they have already had their fair share of good and bad.
While some members in the community are happy with the business, others are not.
“The community has welcomed us with warm hearts and are really supportive. Some say we are the kasi Mugg & Bean, and others say we have bought Sandton to Soshanguve.
"But not everyone is happy for us. One gentleman keeps coming here just to ask ‘rewa neng’ (when are we closing shop), and those kinds of sentiments can be discouraging when you have just opened a business and trying to do all you can to succeed,” Tinyiko said.
She told the Pretoria News that the frequent visits by the man hit her so hard that at one point she asked her mother why people were so mean.
“My mother said something so profound that I will never forget it. She quoted the Pedi proverb which says: ‘Banhloyi ba lekana le banthati’ meaning my haters equal those who love me, and I have remained content since.”
Even with the challenges, the trio remain focused and have big plans for the business.
Their short-term goal is to expand the business and have an upper level where people will be able to chill and be served.
They also hope to spread their wings by franchising their business.
“My cousin and I saw this place while we were just passing a few weeks ago, and by last week it looked so unique and different from all shops we are used to in our kasi, so we thought we should come around and try it out,” customer Nolo Seema said, as she enjoyed the cakes last week.
She said the first time she had come in she and others had bought mini black forest cakes, and had come back for more. “This is really delicious, so much that I am worried about my figure,” she laughed.
Prices for the cakes and coffee range from R3 to R300, and the sisters also bake birthday, wedding and baby-shower cakes.