Zeinab Mostafa is the proud founder and owner of the “Devour” brand, which offers a wide range of delicious-looking, home-baked cupcakes.
Started up a year ago, the business is now flourishing, with an average production of 300 to 350 cupcakes a week, all going under mouth-watering names like “spongy orange,” “rainbow fusion,” and “nutella explosion.”
For Mostafa, who used to work in marketing and brand managing, the decision to start a baking business from home came rather unexpectedly. “I resigned from my last position as brand manager for a soap company in November 2008 and got married a month later. My husband and I were supposed to move to Dubai, but our plans did not work out and we stayed in Cairo,” she explains.
"For the next five months I was a stay-at-home wife, which drove me totally crazy…I knew I had to find an occupation, and my life was suddenly brightened when a friend who is a party organizer asked me to bake cupcakes for an upcoming birthday.”
Freshly back from the US, her friend had brought cupcake pans and sprinkles designed to bake these colorful and tasty mini-size cakes. “I decided to take up the challenge, ran to my computer, and started looking for cupcake recipes,” Moustafa says, underlining that she is a woman who had barely set foot in her kitchen before the cupcake mania invaded her life and her kitchen shelves.
For this first birthday, she baked “simple vanilla cupcakes with sugar icing,” which were a hit with greedy children and adults alike. “Encouraged by the positive feedback, I started working regularly with my friend and experimenting in my kitchen to create new original cupcakes…no need to say that the results were not always a success!”
She remembers with a hint of fright her initial smudgy encounter with chocolate and repeated attempts to come up with the perfect chocolate-mint, After Eight-like cupcake.
For the following two months she kept on working hand in hand with her party-organizer friend until it became obvious that she was ready to start a proper business, with a name and a logo attached. “My husband is the one who came up with my company’s brand name, Devour, as well as the logo "We bake your Wish Come True,” she says.
She participated in the 2009 “Pour Elle” bazaar and sold all the 600 cupcakes she had baked on the bazaar's first day. “I went back home and baked 400 more for the next day,” she says. “This is the moment I felt my business was budding.”
“I started running Devour in May 2009, in a real frenzy. It was important for me to totally immerse myself in work and make this business a success,” says Moustafa, pressing her hands together nervously. “Of course, after a while I realized that I couldn’t keep up this rhythm in addition to giving my family enough attention.” This came at a time when the variety of cupcakes available was growing, the patrons more numerous and her creativity booming, she says.
“This is a reality that I‘m afraid most women entrepreneurs are confronted with at some point: this requirement to excel both professionally and in the private sphere. This is a really heavy burden on women, and we need to reach a balance that is sometimes delicate,” she says, looking all of a suddent tired.
So she decided to cut work on week-ends to focus on her family, still actively baking her weekly +300 cupcakes and treating her customers with original fillings and icing flavors.
“Solo Para Tu!” is “soft and smooth exotic candies melted in cupcake mixture topped with sugar icing,” according to Devour's flyer, while the “Caramelized Popcorn Cupcake” makes you wonder how it would feel on the tip of the tongue.
“The key to success when starting a business in any field is creativity,” says Moustafa states. “Of course, the upstream work in marketing is extremely important, but the creativity and the ability to always come up with something new is the only way to prevent your customers from being bored."