My name is Pauline Twala and I am the owner-operator of Affordable Eats. I would describe myself as a positive and enthusiastic person and fearless with no limitations.
Affordable eats provides upscale outside catering services as well as custom designed cakes perfect for weddings, corporate functions and any special event like birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers or graduations.
We are based in Kisumu but have been able to offer our services in various counties from Garissa, Nairobi, Naivasha, Eldoret, Kisii, Bungoma, Busia, Funyula among other counties.
Three months ago we began offering wedding and event décor services and have since successfully planned and styled two wedding events. We specialize in unique, customized menus tailored specifically for our clients’ taste, budget and event type.
From a very early age I became fascinated with food and the kitchen. I looked at food as a magic creation and I loved watching Alice Taabu of Mke Nyumbani.
When I was young, I was a member of the cooking club while at St’ George’s Primary School.
But since I was a young member, I was only allowed to watch but not participate. After observing I would then go back home and try out the recipes under the watchful eye of my mother.
I joined boarding school in class five and unfortunately there was no cooking club and Home Science was just a reading subject. We would read and cram recipes. And there’s just a big difference between reading a recipe and executing it.
On joining high school, there were two streams called “North” and “South” and on the first day of reporting I was assigned to the “North” stream. It took me days to realize that the difference between the two streams was that “Northerners” had Agriculture while the “Southerners” had Home Science among the core subjects and it was not possible to change into another stream. I was devastated.
I befriended a few of the “Southerners” as well as the home science teacher whom I’d borrow recipe books and copy all the recipes to be tried at home during holidays. However, by this time my career focus had shifted to something that relied on Applied Maths.
Maths had become my main academic interest. I had become obsessed with numbers, formulas, numerical investigation, the thought processes, problem solving techniques and I had a flair for the subject right from primary through to high school. I even went on to form the Maths Club in High School. Then life took over and I did a degree in Political Science and Public Administration at Moi University and went on to work with various organizations in Nairobi and Kisumu as a Market Researcher and Office Administrator. But I could never settle and felt unfulfilled.
THE STORY BEHIND MY BUSINESS
Well it’s said behind every business there’s a story and mine is no different. If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be running my own business, I would have laughed (and probably rolled my eyes).
In 2011, my employment contract with the Italian Embassy-Development Co-operation ended and I had two choices. To either continue with the career rat race or follow my heart in a field I had always been drawn to.
I chose the latter. I chose my first love – the culinary art. I had been dreaming about starting a business around my passion for years.
Affordable Eats didn’t start out as the typical business model where one creates a business plan, conducts market research, product testing, forecasting and all that stuff.
It was all backwards. I didn’t exactly know what it was going to be. I didn’t think about every detail when I was starting out. All I knew was that I was going into culinary art. So armed with basic tools, loads of tutorials, You tube videos and tons of enthusiasm a dream was born.
Initially business wasn’t picking up and I had near misses and fails in some. I learnt big lessons right there. So rather than throw in the towel and give up I went back to the drawing board and started to look at how I could improve and expand what my business covered.
It was through doing this that I discovered a number of business mentors key among them was Rina Nzuve of Rina’s House based in Nairobi. She gave me an early exposure to the world of cake art, lessons that were instrumental in leading me to the right path. And now here I am. I knew I would have fun, but I didn’t expect to love it as much I do!
HOW MY JOURNEY HAS BEEN ….
Let me first tell you about the other side of running a business that many people hardly talk about. It is blood, sweat, sacrifice and tears!
It can also get lonely and you may encounter all manner of resistance. But you must have the resilience to keep pushing forward with your goals.
You learn to be an eternal optimist. No matter how bad things would sometimes get, I’d focus on the positive milestones and future. Despite this it gets better!
My journey so far has been really enriching and rewarding. It has been far more satisfying than my previous jobs. It may sound cliché but one should go for their dreams no matter what.
Do what you love and have fun while doing it. Something I would tell my past self is to enjoy the process and not get caught up in what others will say or are doing.
One of the major highs I have experienced with Affordable eats is seeing the dancing eyes and happy faces when you create a reality from a clients dream is the most rewarding part of what I do. The best part is that I get to do what I love all day every day.
One of the major challenges I face is the four letter word “time”. It feels like there isn’t enough hours in a day to fit everything in.
- Secondly, being that I work from home some people think that it’s a laid back affair and it can be a challenge to be seen as legitimate and not some one-hit wonder.
- Thirdly, not many people accept cake design as a legitimate art form and don’t realize how much work it takes to create what they ask for. To some it’s just eggs, butter, flour, milk etc.
- Getting the right personnel to execute your mission with passion is also another challenge.
To overcome these challenges I engage in proper planning and time management which helps me increase efficiency. I book orders days sometimes weeks or months in advance and I limit the orders to an amount my team and I can handle so that attention is given to each. My next objective is to get a retail space where people can come in at any time to see where the magic is made
Affordable Eats will be 4 years in March. 4 YEARS! I remember it like it was yesterday, the very very humble beginnings. I can still hardly believe it. So much has happened with the business and my personal life in the 4 years. I have loved watching the business grow and am filled with absolute gratitude to God’s Grace, Mercy, Love and Providence. Today 4 years later, am still so passionate.
For women out there who want to venture into business some of the top tips I would share with them are as follows:
- Running your own business is no piece of cake! And it’s not for the faint hearted. Be prepared to work harder and long hours (especially in the early stages of setting up) but you will also feel the most fulfilled.
- Never stop learning because you will never know it all. Stay committed, giving 100% at your business, exhibit honesty and integrity combined with smart thinking.
- Pray always and give thanks in all circumstances.
- You will have lots of failures but don’t look at is as failing. See them as things from which you are meant to learn lessons from so you can change your strategy.
- Don’t compare your chapter one with someone else’s chapter 20 – stop comparing yourself with others as you will only end up in a mind wrap trap, get distracted and stunt your growth.
- A little progress everyday adds up to big results.
- What got you here won’t get you there – what was perfect for your business 3 years ago probably won’t work in 5 years.
- I can’t over emphasize the importance of having a supportive spouse/who will play a supportive role in your growth and not compete with your business. They should be able to love what you do and show it in action.
- Just start! Don’t wait. Do not hesitate – so many people wish they had started sooner. Don’t wait to ask yourself “what if?” ten years from now.
- You will encounter doubters, naysayers, haters with all manner of opinions. Yours is to make your own reality with your own actions not their opinions.
- On a light note take a step back, have a glass of wine, a bath and an early night. Things always seem better in the morning 😉
Want to find out more about Affordable Eats?
Call: 0703 678 475
Facebook: Affordable Eats