Janette Waweru, a self-taught cook and baker, was brought up in a family that loved food and eating out. Right after leaving home, she fell in love with recreating dishes she saw in restaurants and on television. The pleasure that would show on the faces of people who ate her food was enough to prove she had a great talent. This talent led her to start Sky Fusion, an artisanal food company specializing in baked goods and healthy vegetarian food. She delved deeper into how her entrepreneurial journey began.
Janette always felt that she would start her own business. Her main problem was that she kept procrastinating this big step while in the corporate world. “I worked in corporate for many years but at the back of my mind I knew that one day I would do it full-time.” she said. After gathering enough bravery and putting her fears behind her, she finally decided to take a bold step and resigned.” It’s just never the right time to start a business so I took the jump, handed in my resignation, bought my first bales of baking ingredients and started it!” she recalls. That is how her company, Sky Fusion, was born.
Sky Fusion has sweet and savoury products. For sweets, they offer the usual bakery items (frosted cakes, naked tea cakes, sweet rolls, muffins, cupcakes and assorted fresh bread). Their savoury items include sandwiches, wraps, lasagna and vegetarian casserole dishes). Sky Fusion’s sweets are not like ordinary candy. The company uses high quality, organic ingredients that do not contain additives, preservatives or dyes. For savoury products, they use all organic fruits and vegetables as well as a minimal amount of heart healthy oils (Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Coconut Oil). The savoury dishes are steamed or baked to preserve nutrients, flavour and use less oil.
One of the things Janette struggled with when starting was that she didn’t have a network or social circle. “I had been away from home [abroad] for many years and I just didn’t know anyone. So when I started the business I would beg my family to tell their friends about me so someone could call me and order something,” she said. For many weeks she doubted whether her phone would ever ring. Staying out of Kenya for a long time also resulted in a lack of knowledge on the Kenyan market.
As her business began to grow, she struggled with expansion. “When you work from home, you can have a killer product but if it doesn’t have visibility, it will not move. On the flip side, opening up a store is an expensive acquisition especially with a niche product like this,’ she said. She also found it a struggle to expand her workforce as she felt that the same health and quality standards would not be maintained. “I cater to a portion of people with food allergies or sensitivities and I must trust that cross-contamination doesn’t happen. When it’s just me, I can be 100% sure. When I involve other people , it’s a gamble every time,” she explained. Additionally, she also struggled with not having enough revenue to buy commercial machines, delivery issues, packaging issues but overcame them.
The ways in which she overcame these challenges was by going through the new experiences, meeting more people (especially outside of her circle) and asking questions to find out what people wanted.
PassionBiz Academy experience
Janette is currently doing the 33rd season of the ‘Harness Your Brilliance’ course facilitated by James Karundu. She also completed the ‘Elevate Your Business and Your Income’ course at the academy. She shared that the classes have given her increased clarity. “Both classes have taken a weight off my shoulders with regards to narrowing down who my customer is. I now know that I am not for everyone,” she said. She also learnt that business can grow organically and that her job is to make the highest quality products that she can. “Be the best, and the best will find you!,” she exclaimed. She now believes in herself and her product when talking to people.
Janette aims to have a weekly food delivery system for active and busy professionals who want great tasting nutritious food in the future. “Wouldn’t it be great to come home to a fully-stocked fridge of healthy made fresh food and a little treat on the side?,” she said
Her long term future plan is to have an eco-friendly, community vegan café where people can come, de-stress and feed their souls and bellies with good food from the earth.
Ms Waweru lives by Maya Angelou’s words in every facet of her life – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better”