Aged 21, Chikumo Fiseko is the award winning owner of two businesses – Mostly Muffins (deserts, cakes n’ all that jazz) and Tiger J Chocolates, a fine range of chocolates which saves tigers one chocolate at a time.
Currently a Uni undergraduate, the Sheffield based baker caught the attention of thousands in September as she not only supplied her products at this year’s MADE Festival Conference, but Chik was also a guest panelist on this year’s MADE panel, having the honour of sitting amongst some of the UK’s most renowned entrepreneurs including Jamal Edwards, Wayne Hemingway MBE and Rekha Mehr (just to name a few).
How do you manage to balance running two businesses whilst studying at University?
From a young age, my Dad has always taught me to plan ahead. So whatever I do, I know I’ll be doing it few weeks in advance before it actually happens. It isn’t easy when it comes to scheduling in friends but it comes in handy when trying to balance jobs and exams.
What were the general responses to your products like at MADE?
I got some really good responses. Both the muffins and the chocolate where a hit and I even managed to get a few pictures of celebrities holding the products. I also managed to get some advice on how to make the packaging better and how to get myself known.
Congratulations on also being a guest on the debate panel for MADE this year. How did it feel to sit amongst established entrepreneurs twice your age?
It all seems very surreal even now when I think about it. I had an amazing time. I was very nervous but I tried to enjoy that time as much as I could simply because I have no idea how I got there and it may never happen again. I felt proud to be representing young people in enterprise, women in business and Sheffield Hallam University. Also having my Mum and friends there made everything so much more exciting.
You mentioned during the debate that you never liked the idea of working for somebody else. What’s the best part of running your own businesses?
Every day is different. I always enjoy the jobs I do because I pick them with the idea that they will help me gain the skills I need to be successful. I get bored very quickly so working for myself means I can tackle new things every day. It also helps me juggle everything very well, for example, right now I am ‘working’, in a couple of hours I will be in uni and later I have an awards dinner. Working for myself gives me the choice to decide when I work and when I do everything else. Sometimes that’s at 9am in the morning and sometimes it’s 1am in the morning.
“Working for myself gives me the choice to decide when I work and when I do everything else. Sometimes that’s at 9am in the morning and sometimes it’s 1am in the morning.”
What is your ultimate vision for Mostly Muffins and Tiger J Chocolates?
Mostly Muffins has always been something I believe should remain a small bespoke business because of the quality of the products I make. When customers try the Mostly Muffins products they’re reminded of the baked goods they had as a child. I also really enjoy making the products. Baking can be very therapeutic. As for Tiger J Chocolates, I would love to have them in big stores. There are many chocolate manufacturers but Tiger J’s is different because not only are the recipes original and handmade but we also work with the Born Free foundation which is a wildlife charity. I want to help more young people learn more about the impact animals have on the world and what happens when they’re endangered.
What legacy do you hope to leave for the next generation of young female entrepreneurs?
I think being a female entrepreneur is hard in itself but being a young female entrepreneur has it’s perks in the sense that there are a lot of people around that want to help. I just want to show young women that you can never be too young to have a dream and nothing is impossible. It isn’t easy, but if you persevere there’s no reason why you can’t do everything you have ever dreamed of.
What advice can you give to aspiring bakers?
Try lots of different flavours! If you can’t eat something yourself then you probably shouldn’t be selling it. Love the products that you make, if you love them there’s no reason why everyone else won’t love them too.
What advice can you give to a Skool girl?
When I was about 11, I was really large and people would talk about me because of my weight and tell me that I needed to exercise. I would like to say to anyone with weight issues that yes it’s important to eat right and be healthy but most importantly be the confident and happy you. We are all different sizes; people may support a particular body ideal, but at the end of the day do what makes you happy!