Dora Moore-Oji is a Lagos-based award-winning baker and chef, who specialises in cakes and bakery products for all occasions. Born into a family of entertainment and hospitality business, she’s the CEO/Chief Creative Director, Dxplorer Cakes, a serial entrepreneur and multi-talented young lady. She studied English Language at the University of Lagos.
Her journey into the professional world of confectioneries commenced about two decades ago when she obtained a diploma in catering and hotel management, in addition to numerous certifications and training that fed her curious mind in the art of baking and sugar crafting from different parts of the world. Her quest for entrepreneurial excellence has rewarded her with recognitions and more than one thriving cake bakery.
In this interview with Oyinlola Sale, Moore-Oji, who is fondly called Doradxplorer, reveals the secret behind her success in her chosen profession
You are a multi-talented baker and chef and you specialise in cakes and bakery products. Can you tell us how you managed to build Dxplorer Cakes into an outstanding brand?
Dxplorer cakes are what it is today through God’s grace. It has not been so rosy but God has been faithful. For you to build an outstanding brand, you have to be fully involved. You also need to be visionary. Consistency, persistence, faith, and hard work are the necessary condiments you require for sustainability needed.
Baking industry in Nigeria has become innovative, it is more about the creativity infused with good taste. What inspires your creativity as a baker?
Yes, the industry has become innovative, but that’s how it should be; you need to be or train yourself to be a creative mind before delving into the industry. As a cake artist, I never stop learning. I read and train a lot so, I don’t get out of trends and moves. And my greatest source of inspiration and ideas is the holy spirit, he opens my eyes to the awesomeness of God’s mind-blowing creativity in every sphere of life daily, therefore, nature is my highest source of inspiration; I love abstract art and colours.
In this economy where prices of goods are drastically increasing by the day, how do you manage to draw the line to know how to put a price on your baking services?
It’s not been so rosy in the past months for us in the baking industry, I must confess; but for you to stay abreast, you need to know your onions. Know your recipes, once you do, then costing and pricing will be easy.
This gives you room to attach a figure to every single material used in the cause of production which regularly helps me arrive at the total amount which is added to the overhead, then a reasonable and a profit margin is added to give us the selling price. In addition to this, we review the raw materials increment regularly now to make sure the company isn’t at a loss.
The baking industry sees a daily increase in the number of players. In what ways does Dxplorer Cakes stand out?
I love this question; Dxplorer Cakes stands out in different ways, but I will mention just three: as a brand, we represent luxury and excellence and these are seen in most of our products; we always strive to satisfy our clients, we never stop improving, we love exploring.
Secondly, we are unique and we are in a class of our own. Most of our products are our signatures and this sets us apart.
Thirdly, as a brand, we make luxury affordable through our competitive prices and also we’re committed to seeing younger bakers or start-ups well informed and also empowered
Was there ever a time you stumbled on a roadblock that made you feel like giving up, How did you overcome that situation?
So many times, I must tell you. But you must know your way before you embark on any journey, as this will be your staying power. I remember how it all started, I was instructed by the spirit that this is my field at an early stage even before I started and this has kept me for these decades … I’ve experienced a fire, bliss, love, acceptance, rejection, and discouraging moments from different areas; but this is what has kept me moving;”the goal” in every situation I find myself in the business and as an individual, I always lookout for the “end”.
I don’t know how to quit, I love it when it’s tougher when I face rejection, low sales, and when it looks impossible; because God loves to show off, but you must work hard. I’m a workaholic and God crowns my efforts with success. I slept in the bakery years ago and sincerely even up to date, some projects make me sleep in the bakery. I learn from my low moments and move on, I hate pity.
The baking industry is capital intensive. How did you manage to finance this business in its early days?
You can say that again and again. It’s indeed capital intensive, but you have to pay the price; know your rooting stage; don’t spend your sales on human hair, designer clothing, and unnecessary things; those things will come once you enter your “harvest”. Always learn to reinvest your “seeds”. I called them seeds because they’re not meant to be eaten.
I got my first oven from my stipends, I started baking from my mum’s and then my elder sister’s kitchen. It became small then I moved to her balcony, bought one smaller oven from my little sales just to add up, my clientele grew then, but I got admission into the University of Lagos, and I still didn’t stop baking and saving. I started selling shoes and clothes just to add up and get more tools and equipment in my year one in Unilag, I got jobs from my roommates, Faculty of Arts and the Department of English, friends, and family, but I never stopped reinvesting even up till date.
What should we expect from Dxplorer Cakes in the next five years?
In the next five years, Dxplorer Cakes will become a household name more than it is now. Creating mind-blowing and affordable luxury all over Nigeria and beyond us in the baking industry I must confess, but for you to stay abreast you need to know your onions. Know your recipes, once you do, then costing and pricing will be easy.
This gives you room to attach a figure to every single material used in the cause of production which regularly helps me arrive at the total amount which is added to the overhead then a reasonable and a profit margin is added to gives us the selling price. In addition to this answer presently, we review the raw materials increment regularly now to make sure the company isn’t at a loss in this present economy.