Cross River State-based nurse and entrepreneur, Ukpeme Udoiso, who is into pastry and event decoration, exemplifies the Nigerian youth’s can-do spirit. In this chat with EKONG EKPENYONG, she stresses that pastry business remains one of the outstanding professions in Nigeria and across the globe
As a nursing student, what stirred your interest into pastry and event decoration?
Pastry has always been one of my hobbies, since I was in secondary school.
I admired friends, and even foes, that were into pastry business, and told myself that one day I would toe that line of business.
Why the name Yukay Concept?
The name emanates from Ukpeme, which means God’s divine guidance; while the concept is my personal idea. I like United Kingdom products, hence the idea to make it Yukay Concept.
When you decided to go into the pastry and event decoration business, as a novice, weren’t you worried that you could lose everything while combining schooling and business at the same time?
I believe that life, generally, is all about risk-taking and management; therefore as a young entrepreneur, I have planned my future. Though it is not going to be easy combining my education and business, I believe it is worth the risk to make something of my life, like other people ahead of me have done. So, by God’s grace, I will make it.
You are 23 years old and managing your own business; how did you come about that?
At the age of 19, I had been attending conferences, seminars and symposia, many programmes outside Cross River. From the programmes, I learnt a lot, particularly to be hard working. Look at wealthy individuals; they keep pushing through, knowing that success could be right around the corner.
Why do people around you refer to you as a model?
I guess because I love pictures a lot. My friends call me model, though that could only be a secondary target, or it could be that they see traits of a model in me.
What qualities must one possess to be successful in this business?
To be successful in the business requires one to be supportive, trustworthy and dependable in all you do. Second, money should not be the primary goal, at least at the initial stage.
As a pastry and event decorator, what are your challenges in the industry?
It has not been easy here in Calabar. However, they say good things don’t come easy. Convincing clients is tough, especially when trying to get them to meet terms and conditions of service by explaining why they should pay a specific amount for a particular size of product amid the hike of raw materials in the market.
What cost should one count in going into pastry and event decoration business?
First, cleanliness is next to godliness. Therefore, when it comes to food service, the factors to be considered are human system and environmental management.
Hygiene is highly imperative due to different people you meet and time delivery. There is need to render quality service to a customer, that is, to give the best as expected, and to constantly create awareness and reach out by spreading the gospel of your product.
What was your experience during the Coronavirus Disease crisis?
The pandemic, as we all know, was not an interesting episode at all in Nigeria, especially in Calabar where I base, because the rate of orders were low due to the restriction on movement and social events. So, income was low.
What advice do you have for young individuals that wish to venture into pastry business?
Starting the profession can be discouraging when you don’t have equipment to handle and kick-start the business. Beginners can achieve by taking jobs according to one’s ability to deliver, so as not to fail one’s client. Also, do not expect financial income at the speed of light. By heeding this advice, your sales will soar and you will be known in no time.
How has being a young chief executive officer in Nigeria been?
I am very happy, though it is not easy. The sky is my limit. There is no price too high or there is no opportunity too impossible.
Who is your role model, and what have you learnt from him or her?
My role model is Edees Confectionaries, although I have not had opportunity to have a chat with her yet. I love her concept and creativity. Her originality and design are unique, and without rival.
Where do you see yourself in the next seven years, and what is your ultimate target in the business?
Seven years from now, by God’s special grace, I should be a nurse as well as a professional caterer/event decorator. I should by then have built my products bigger, and be earning at least seven digits annually, while running empowerment programmes across the globe.
What challenges have you been able to surmount in your professional journey?
In Nigeria, light has always been an issue, but thank God I have been able to sort that out.
What is your least daily income?
If you love this profession, you need to be patient. In summary, my income comes once in a while with a reasonable amount that could put a smile on any one’s face.
What other issue gives you concern as far the business is concerned?
The only thing that worries me is lack of partners for my product which, I am looking forward to and believing God for better days ahead.
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