‘I started my pie busi­ness with NYSC sav­ings’

Maryam Ringim is the CEO of ‘Miss R’s Pies’. She holds a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence De­gree in Nat­u­ral and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence from the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Nigeria, Yola. Here, the 23 year-old Ji­gawa state born en­tre­pre­neur speaks on look­ing ook­ing be­yond wh

Daily Trust - - CONTENTS - Words by Adie Vanessa Of­fiong @Vanes­saOf­fiong

How did Miss R Pies come about?

I started a few months af­ter my youth ser­vice with the Cen­tral Bank, Abuja. I make the best shepherd’s chicken and ap­ple pies. It caters to the cus­tomers’ crav­ings and sates their ap­petite. I take or­ders bi-weekly on Wed­nes­days and Satur­days. Also, spe­cial or­ders are taken on other days when placed in ad­vance.

It was ac­tu­ally some­thing I al­ways had in mind, but didn’t re­ally have the time to ex­e­cute. I started by hand­ing out tasters of my shepherd’s pie to friends and rel­a­tives for feed­back. They all loved it!

In Jan­uary 2012, I started re­ceiv­ing or­ders. I sent broad­cast mes­sages, which were sent fur­ther by friends and fam­ily. I got sev­eral in­vites and reg­u­lar or­ders from my new cus­tomers.

How much cap­i­tal did you have?

Hon­estly, I didn’t start with a par­tic­u­lar amount of money. I just kept buy­ing what I needed with the amount at my dis­posal, which was mostly my sav­ings from youth ser­vice. It was un­til the sec­ond month that I started keep­ing track of my ex­penses to make com­par­isons and en­sure profit was made.

What chal­lenges did you en­counter start­ing off?

As with most new businesses, sell­ing the prod­uct poses the great­est chal­lenge. For me, this mostly in­volved at­tract­ing cus­tomers, es­pe­cially with many of them not within close prox­im­ity. Bak­ing on a daily ba­sis spreads out the or­ders.

How did you over­come them?

Advertisement via so­cial me­dia and word of mouth.I nar­rowed down bak­ing to twice a week to en­able me take or­ders in bulk. This made it more con­ve­nient to serve a wider range of cus­tomers.

What’s your ex­pe­ri­ence with sat­is­fy­ing cus­tomers?

Feed­back from the cus­tomers helped with cus­tomis­ing for par­tic­u­lar clients; mak­ing their pies to their per­sonal taste. There is that re­ward­ing feel of ac­com­plish­ment when you sat­isfy your cus­tomer. I have also been rec­om­mended by sev­eral happy cus­tomers to more people.

‘Small chops’ is a fast grow­ing busi­ness in Abuja and across Nigeria. How well have you po­si­tioned yourself to com­pete in the mar­ket?

Based on my per­sonal re­search, at the time I started, there was not a sin­gle restau­rant or per­son mak­ing shepherd’s pie here in Abuja. That worked in my favour. I be­came unique, with an edge over most of my com­peti­tors. A lot of people had never heard of or tried shepherd’s pie, but were will­ing to. Also, I have en­sured that my pies are af­ford­able, even with their high stan­dard in taste and qual­ity.

There is a lot of cam­paign about healthy eat­ing. Is this some­thing you fac­tor into your prod­ucts?

Yes it is. The shepherd’s pie comes with a vinai­grette salad which is as healthy and tasty as a salad can be. The shepherd’s pie and salad put to­gether make up a bal­anced meal, con­tain­ing all classes of food.

Hy­giene is a cru­cial part of food busi­ness. What mea­sures have you taken to en­sure this isn’t a prob­lem?

I am an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist by qual­i­fi­ca­tion. I do not work in a dirty en­vi­ron­ment, and use the most hy­gienic prod­ucts I can lay my hands on for both pro­duc­tion and san­i­ta­tion with the aid of my ex­per­tise in the field. When it comes to hy­giene, my cus­tomers are in ab­so­lutely safe hands.

In the light of the re­cent im­mi­gra­tion re­cruit­ment, how would you ad­vise young­sters like you?

The im­mi­gra­tion re­cruit­ment in­ci­dent was a tragedy that could have been avoided. What hap­pened was very sad and un­for­tu­nate. How­ever, it opened my eyes to the re­al­ity of how much un­em­ploy­ment has eaten us up as Nige­ri­ans. I would like to ask them all to think as in­di­vid­u­als, about what each per­son can do to keep them­selves busy and earn an in­come. Idle­ness gives room for frus­tra­tion and that level of des­per­a­tion for just about any­thing. They should not let some­one or a group of people sit­ting be­hind desks de­fine their abil­i­ties.

What do you say about self-em­ployed young people hav­ing a favourable en­vi­ron­ment to do prof­itable busi­ness?

They must re­alise the op­por­tu­nity they have and make the most of it.

Busi­ness from home or from a shop, which is the bet­ter op­tion?

Per­son­ally, I pre­fer work­ing from home be­cause of the con­ve­nience. But, on a much larger scale, def­i­nitely a shop would be more favourable. First of all, the en­vi­ron­ment. An in­dus­trial kitchen comes in play, which makes work a lot eas­ier. Then, the di­rect in­ter­ac­tion with your cus­tomers. When there is that in­ter­ac­tion, you are able to serve cus­tomers to ul­ti­mate

sat­is­fac­tion at­is­fac­tion b be­cause th they are phys­i­cally present to tell you what they do or do not like.

Do you still in­tend to find a nine-to-five job?

Yes I do. I have been seek­ing em­ploy­ment since I passed out from Youth Ser­vice. I would like to ex­plore the cor­po­rate world as well and put my de­gree to good use. I went to an ex­cel­lent univer­sity that pro­vided me with an im­pec­ca­ble qual­i­fi­ca­tion which would be of great ben­e­fit to the or­gan­i­sa­tion I get to work with, while I im­prove in my own skills.


This is mostly to gen­er­ate cap­i­tal and gain ex­pe­ri­ence.

What is your take on so­cial me­dia as a tool for sell­ing one’s busi­ness?

I think it’s a great medium for ad­ver­tis­ing/show­cas­ing your prod­ucts and ser­vices. People like to see sam­ple pic­tures of what they are pur­chas­ing. It also makes com­mu­ni­ca­tion a lot faster and eas­ier with the aid of in­stant mes­sag­ing.

Could you tell us how in your view, pack­ag­ing and do­ing some­thing slightly dif­fer­ent from the norm could make a dif­fer­ence in an al­ready sat­u­rated mar­ket?

Mak­ing your prod­uct unique sure makes a dif­fer­ence. I think as hu­mans we are wired to try some­thing that seems to be out of the or­di­nary. How­ever, it is im­por­tant that the qual­ity meets up with the ap­pear­ance. That way it doesn’t just ap­peal to the eyes, but also makes for a pleas­ant taste. Hence, it would al­ways be picked first amongst oth­ers.

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