Titi is a dear friend of mine and I'm so excited to feature her as part of the small business interview series. She's a wife and mother to two beautiful children and runs a successful home-based baking business that caters to up to 600 people at a time. She is also a successful lifestyle and fashion blogger over at Titispassion.com. In other words, she's a superwoman.
I've watched Titi's baking business and blog grow over the last few years and I have to say she's doing an amazing job and will definitely inspire many of you ladies out there. Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services/products do you offer?
My name is Titilola Sogunro, I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my wonderful husband and our two amazing kids. I run a baking business and a lifestyle blog. It is called Titi's Passion. I bake made from scratch, bite-size Nigerian pastries such as meat-pies and sausage rolls and American desserts such as brownie bites and cheesecake minis. My lifestyle blog is about personal style, natural hair care, and healthy baking recipes.
I started my baking business because I felt there was a local need for Nigerian pastries that not only taste good, but are also beautifully crafted. My method of baking incorporates healthier versions of recipes and the use of premium ingredients strictly.
My blog started as an outlet to discuss things that I was passionate about but it has since evolved into a space, where I share my fashion tips, healthy recipes, and my natural hair journey.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business?
I have always been drawn to baking since I was a little girl. My mom went to catering school in the UK and I watched her bake and run a catering business as a young child. I grew up in Nigeria and there was this cooking show back then called "Maggi Kitchen" which sparked my first experience of baking.
Every week, I watched this show and wrote down any recipe that caught my interest. My mom didn't allow me or my siblings into the kitchen except when she was there to watch her cook, so I looked forward to moments when she stepped out of the house, so I could try my "experiments".
I mastered some recipes then, one of which was called "Mackerel balls." It was so good, my neighbor brought me breadcrumbs from the UK because she loved them so much. She saved me that step of making my own from scratch. It was a big deal then to a 13-year-old. I continued experimenting and saving my version of recipes over the years. My mini sausage rolls and mini meat-pies became a hit among friends years later.
I started my baking business about 5 years ago when a dear friend made me a set of business cards and handed it to me. She said, "Titi, you can make a business from these wonderful pastries that everyone can't seem to get enough of." I took that bold step then and started advertising to friends and family that I made pastries and I have gradually expanded over the years.
My lifestyle blog only became "something more" a few months ago when a group of wonderful women from an organization I belong, insisted that I continue blogging after I had made plans to shut it down. I am now consistent with blogging and it is growing in readership and followers.
What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I had just completed my MBA degree when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. The original plan was to find a job after completion and continue on in my career path. My undergraduate degree is in Accounting, and up until the time I decided to pursue my MBA full-time, I worked in the Mortgage industry.
My spouse and I agreed on not going with the daycare option after our baby, so I decided then that I would take some time off, to raise my now 5-year-old son. It was during this time, I started my baking business.
Do you have any special training?
I am self-trained for the forefront of my business which is Nigerian Pastries but to master my dessert baking skills I took a few Wilton classes.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments is being able to grow my passion for baking into a booming business that caters to events with over 600 people in attendant, all by myself. My average Friday is spent baking treats from morning to dusk and sometimes with little to no sleep.
I have also moved past baking for individuals and now working with local caterers which have increased my revenue. I am also raising two beautiful children with my husband who runs a recognized photography business "Fotos by Fola" of which I am actively involved with its business logistics.
Being able to start: What mistake(s) have you made with your business?
One of my biggest mistakes is not starting earlier. I would tell myself that "my business is not needed," "the market is already saturated," "I can't handle it or I can't do it" or "what if I fail."
Those moments of doubt held me back for years from pursuing what I loved. I was a horrible planner too and felt I could just "wing it" or "go with the flow." Lastly, I also struggled with pricing my products and underpriced myself for a long time.
What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
I have learned that it is okay to fall, sometimes flat on my face. I have learned that is okay to doubt oneself but most importantly to just go for it regardless. It is okay to be uncomfortable and I still struggle with this, but I have learned to do things that make me feel that way.
It is important to surround yourself with people that support your dreams and visions. No vision is too crazy or too big and if you have a friend that cheers even the bizarre stuff, hold on tight to that person, it is a rare quality. Persistence truly pays off, don't give up, just keep at it, just because someone says no, doesn't mean it's the end and finally always reinvent yourself.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful small business?
Consistency is key to me, in whatever you do, do it well and let it speak for you. Handmade pastries are one of the hardest things to make consistently every time, but I pride myself for doing it, every single time that way. Having a plan is also key, where you want to be next, do next, yes all that good stuff.
A great support system, some people do it all by themselves, but I am so happy that I am blessed with the most supportive spouse and amazing friends. When my orders are very large and I get overwhelmed my husband is right next to me, rolling dough and coating the pastries with eggs 🙂 Believe in your dream, no one is going to buy what you are not sure about. Eat, sleep, dream it, live it!
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Start today, not tomorrow. If it makes you happy and you find yourself thinking about it all the time, go for it. Do your research and learn about your industry and remember there is always something new to learn. Finally or should I say the first thing, take it to God in prayer and ask him for directions. I have tried quitting countless times, but he showed me the vision, that keeps me going.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
Prioritization is key, my family comes first. Time management is key, so I always make sure business time doesn't overlap into family time. It helps when your partner understands and works with your schedule so you are not overwhelmed. Always make time for yourself, it is so vital. Shut down your PC, read a book, go out, do what relaxes you, so you can focus and do a better job with your business.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I see myself having my pastries and desserts packaged and sold in groceries stores around the nation. I see my blog being one of the top lifestyle blogs helping make life easier for millions of people around the globe.
Please share a fun fact about yourself.
I am a night owl, I tend to stay up late past midnight, almost every night.