It’s been years since my last post. I don’t know what happened, but there was some technical hullabaloo going on that I couldn’t figure out for years until today. I suddenly remembered that I had a website that I have not done anything with for the past 4 to 5 years, so I opened my email and decided to take a look around. I don’t even remember it, but I emailed WordPress last year asking why my website was inactive. They replied that it had something to do with the name servers (whatever they are), and so I did a Google search, found out how to fix it, and got this site up and running! But I still don’t know if this article will be properly published. I really need professional help on running this site, but I am cheap and I like doing things on my own, so I will have to figure this out by myself.
Anyhow, despite my website’s inactivity, the cake shop is still alive and well despite the many challenges that we are facing. I can proudly say that my cake shop has survived the economic problems brought about by the pandemic. Despite the restrictions, we have been making cakes for our customers, except during the whole month of April 2020, when our city was first placed on lockdown and the situation was very uncertain. It was a trying moment for me personally as a business owner. Honestly, I did not know if my business could survive and how I would support my employees aside from making sure that I could support myself and my family. Luckily, some of my business decisions pre-pandemic proved to be rewarding although at that time they didn’t seem to be very beneficial at all.
You see, around 2018, I joined a government-sponsored program for micro and small business owners to help us improve our businesses. I learned quite a lot and met a lot of friends, but to be honest, I did not apply any of my learnings to my own business. Everyone else was prodding me to boost my cake making capacity, much like Goldilocks, Red Ribbon or the homegrown Sans Rival. But unfortunately, because of my own preferences and because this is how I feel I should handle my business, I refused to commercialize my cakes. That wasn’t the direction I was going for. I do not like to offer mass produced cakes that would be available for everybody. I wanted to stay as a small cake shop offering customized cakes and desserts. I did not even want to offer dine-in services. I was a weird woman, dipping my fingers into running a business and not listening to everyone’s advice.
What I worked on specializing was being able to accept rush orders. My employees were trained to be systematic and efficient. I made them accountable of every product that we released, and it prodded them to work faster and better because they wanted to take pride in their product.
While everyone else wanted to mass produce, I stuck to my made-to-order services, but I did relent a little by offering drip cakes to walk-in customers. I did not offer cake slices; I offered mini cakes good for 2 people. I did not want people to stay in my shop and linger. I didn’t know why, but that setup has always been uncomfortable for me. I wanted people to place their orders online or and pickup their orders or request for their orders to be delivered. That was the setup that my customers have grown accustomed to. This setup proved to be rewarding during the pandemic.
During the month-long lockdown in April of 2020, I had lots of customers messaging me asking if they could still place orders. They kept my hopes up that I would still have customers waiting for me when we would reopen. And I was not wrong. I had lots of orders waiting for me when May 2020 came. And because I did not rely on dine-in customers prior to the pandemic, I did not have any problems in setting up my shop to be compliant with health standards. It was easy for me to put up the barriers. I also did not miss a chunk of earnings that would have come from dine-in customers. Instead, I worked on making online ordering more efficient and more convenient by offering more cashless online payment methods. I partnered with delivery services to make quick but careful deliveries. I was also able to boost my giftshop, Dumaguete Gifts For You, to serve those who were unable to come home to Negros Oriental but would still like to join in their family celebrations.
But running a business during the pandemic is really tough. You win some, you lose some. Because parties and gatherings are not allowed, most orders I receive are for smaller cakes. I rarely make a two-tier cake nowadays. I also rarely receive orders for a whole dessert spread. Also, the pandemic has turned a lot of people into home bakers. Competition has gotten tougher, and you have to be really creative and resilient to survive.
But I am just glad that we are surviving. The mere fact that I am still receiving orders consistently and I am able to keep my workforce intact is something to be really thankful for. If this pandemic didn’t happen, things would have been easier. But this is our new reality now, and we have to adapt and innovate to keep the business afloat.
I don’t think things will be going back to what it used to be anytime soon. With new variants developing, this pandemic is still very real and still very life-changing. As a business owner, I have to be careful where I tread, and each decision I make is crucial in keeping my business alive. At this point, I would like to thank all of our clients, especially those who repeatedly come to us, for the continued trust and patronage despite the difficult times.
Times are tough, but I plan to be tougher. My current goal is to be able to ride out this seemingly insurmountable tide of obstacles that no one has ever seen coming. It’s going to take a lot of courage, hard work, ingenuity, luck and even divine intervention. But we are going to see this through.