Baking a career
Tamika Dennis has been baking professionally for the last two years. She developed a passion for baking as a result of assisting her aunt in the kitchen.
She pursued food and nutrition in high school and ultimately completed a degree in food service management from the University of Technology, where her passion for baking was renewed. During that time, Dennis had the privilege of learning more about her craft while being inspired by other local and international bakers.
"I consider myself to be a very creative individual whenever I go into the kitchen. I am always impressed with my finished products and that has helped to inspire me along my journey," Dennis said, adding that her inspiration comes from the demands of customers, watching YouTube videos, Food Network, and sometimes her original ideas.
Dennis told Rural Xpress that she decided to make cakes and pastries as a business after having difficulties finding a suitable job in her field of study. She is now the talent behind Tami-Cakes and Treats.
"The pastry business is not easy to get into or to stay in, especially because I'm not living in the Corporate Area where I could get new business easily; that is why I started in my community, baking for family and close friends. Hopefully, in years to come, I will be able to have a well-established business, where I am able to give back and employ persons and provide services to the wider Jamaica," Dennis told Rural Xpress.
Marketing and promotions are real challenges faced by small business operators and as a young entrepreneur from the rural area, Dennis laments that she finds it is difficult getting the word out about her products and services. "While my success thus far has come from referrals, it would definitely help with advertising not only through social media, but the hosting of seminars for small businesses to help get the word out would really do us entrepreneurs in Clarendon very well."
"My exposure came when my friends saw my true potential and started to support me and began helping with advertising my talent. I was asked to do their birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or any other special events."
She does a variety of personalised cakes and an assortment of other pastry items, operating from her home in the Monymusk Housing Scheme, Clarendon.
However, Dennis explains that she has challenges getting raw materials, most of which are difficult to source and are expensive. "At times, I have to travel out of town to get my ingredients, decorative tools, specialised cake boxes and other items to ensure that I uphold the quality of service that I provide."
In encouraging other persons who may want to launch out as an entrepreneurs but are not sure, Dennis says, "Follow your dreams. At first it may seem hard, but eventually it will get better; and you should always, always believe in yourself."