Following passion takes the cake for Khensani
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WHILE THE lockdown made amateur chefs and bakers out of everyone, Khensani Peters saw this as an opportunity to help those people improve their skills.
“Most businesses were birthed from that period and they realised that they could turn what was first a hobby into an actual income stream. They started to invest into themselves more from there.”
Peters services as a professional baker for her company Ntshovelo Cakes came in high demand from people who wanted to learn more about baking. She saw a gap in the market for online teaching and took full advantage of it.
While Peters is living her purpose, it took six years of working in corporate before she finally took the leap of faith.
“I worked in Information Technology and it was not my passion but because I didn’t know what to do I was stuck. This is why I always emphasise on career guidance now. When you are doing matric and you are clueless it is good to have people come and tell you about other careers that are available,” said Peters.
The 42-year-old studied at the then Durban Natal Technikon (now DUT) and on arrival she realised that there were courses she could have chosen but she just didn’t know about them.
“There were courses like Catering, Somatology and Dressmaking. I am good with my hands so if you, teach me I can do it. I knew from the beginning that IT was not it. Even when I was studying for my exams, I just knew it wasn’t for me but I managed to pass it. I managed to get a good job, a good salary but I was so unhappy. It was like I was in a bad relationship. I used to cry. It felt like I had a problem that I just could not solve.”
This took Peters on a soul-searching journey to find her purpose.
“After prayer and asking God to really reveal my purpose, it was revealed during my fifth year of working and I left in the sixth year. But I appreciate that journey. If I didn’t have exposure to the corporate world, I would probably be envying them and wanting more of a ‘serious job’,” she said.
She worked in IT from 2001 and took the leap of faith in 2007 after officially registering her business in 2006.
Ntshovelo Cakes came to be when she started to provide cakes to the tuckshop where she was working previously.
“I would go to work then go back home and bake. All this happened after it was revealed that I should bake cakes. I would make scones and cupcakes and drop them off at the tuck shop then do it all over again. I baked all night, slept in the early hours of the morning and then went to work at 7am. That pushed me to make the choice to go ahead and bake full time.”
She honed her skills while helping out as an assistant to a baker, Hilda Kemp, who took her under her wings and taught her how to use fondant on cakes. She would help out in the mornings then continue to learn on her own using the internet as a source.
“There is a wealth of information online. Back then we didn’t have social media as we do now and the internet was just coming in. With cakes, you either have it or not. You show me something once and I can make it, I don’t struggle to do what I am doing. In IT I could do my job, I got performance appraisals but I could feel it was a struggle for me. I knew I wasn’t going to excel in that career and that was frustrating. I didn’t want to just wake up in the morning to get a salary and pay the bills. I could feel there was something crying out that I wanted more.”
When she started working full time as a baker in 2007, she started practising, learning and gathering equipment to launch the business. By April the following year she baked her first professional wedding cake.
Since then Peters’ business has been growing from strength to strength.
In 2016, Peters started her academy where she trains upcoming bakers to perfect their skill.
“A lot of people requested training but black people were not doing that and I saw a gap in that market so I started the academy.”
She has since taught over 1000 people to improve their skills.
“I train about five people every week. I used to train people individually and then during and after lockdown I couldn’t do one on ones anymore. So I started to set dates for people to come in groups. You need to be able to give each student individual attention. I don’t want to have 15 or 20 people in a class. This is art and you need to give people attention and work with them.”
At the moment Peters works with an assistant to help with the workload.
With students coming from neighbouring countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe, Peters is looking to expand her space and offer accommodation to more people.
“I am working towards expanding the academy where we will offer more variety with the courses we have and also offer longer period courses. I want to be able to offer potential clients a more inclusive offering where they can have a one stop shop and not have to source cakes, decor or venue from different suppliers, they will be able to get it all at one place.”
The online classes she started recording will be launching at the end of May on the Ntshovelo Cakes website.
If you don’t know what Ntshovelo Cakes is all about, check out Peters Instagram and Facebook pages (@Ntshovelo_Cakes) for more.