Charlotte Letlape the executive pastry chef and owner of The Pastry Princess tells us how baking helped her overcome depression. By Fundiswa Nkwanyana
When I was a child, I enjoyed baking with my grandfather. During the school holidays we used to bake bread and fat cakes for our family. I enjoyed combining the ingredients and watching the bread rise. As a teenager I used to ask my mother to buy me recipe books because I wanted to bake cakes. Some of my fond memories are of baking birthday cakes for my family members.
I love being a qualified pastry chef. My job entails baking customised celebration cakes and pastries that have personality and compliment the event. I love brainstorming with my clients and coming up with unique cake ideas. Seeing people enjoying my cakes makes me happy. I love what I do because it puts a smile on the faces of my clients.
In 2016, I started my pastry business. I was retrenched from my job in the financial sector in 2014 and I became depressed. Looking back, I believe this was a blessing in disguise because in order to fight my depression, I started baking again. I found so much joy in making cakes and pastries that I decided to enrol at the FBI Chef School and Patisserie Academy. I enjoyed my studies and in 2015 I got my diploma in patisserie. I did a few months of internship before starting my business.
Getting my business up and running was not easy. My quotes were often rejected because I cater to the higher end of the market. I did not give up and stuck to my original business until I found the market that I was catering for. I also sold my products at markets and engaged with my customers to find out what they want. This helped me to better understand my business and my clients.
I’m glad that I run my own business. Despite all the challenges that I still face, I’m happy that I can see that I’m heading in the right direction and my business is growing. I believe that the key to running a successful business is staying focused and following your passion.