Tastefully Mama T Proprietor and Entrepreneur Tafadzwa Pfupajena Talks Food & Running a Culinary Business
QF is so excited to share this interview of Tafadzwa Pfupajena nee Pongweni, wife, mom and fierce entrepreneur in the culinary realm. We love her simply because her story illustrates to all of us out there that if you do what you love, and share your gifting with your loved ones, resounding doors of opportunity and profits may find their way into your world sooner than you imagined…
Introducing Owner of Tastefully MamaT – Tafadzwa Pfupajena…
Who is Tafadzwa Pfupajena nee Pongweni in ten words?
I cheated with this question because I find it difficult to describe myself. Very few people know me well, but one of the people that do is my bestie, Shathiso Coyne. These are the words she used to describe me: generous, thoughtful, analytical, intelligent, compassionate, sensitive, creative/stylish, poised, nurturing.
Who/What inspired you to start Tastefully MamaT?
Some people exercise, take up gardening or even read to relax – I cook. I’ve always dreamt of opening a deli with healthy and tasty gourmet food. I used to tell myself, I will wait until I have a lot of spare cash to play with. But life always gets in the way – what if that never happened? So after my maternity leave, I decided to pursue my dream and I haven’t looked back.
How did you come up with the name?
Easy – I didn’t. I asked my creative genius of a friend, Anita Sales, to come up with a name that encompasses who I am and what I want to do. I sent her this request via whatsapp and (no jokes) 5 minutes later she had responded with 3 options and “Tastefully Mama T” was the first option. Like I said she’s a creative genius.
What role does God play in your life?
He is my life! I cannot bring out the best of myself as mother, wife, daughter, sister or friend without Him. I put Him at the centre of everything I do.
How long have you been operating?
I opened shop in February 2013.
What challenges did you face when you started and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge I have faced and am still facing is the balancing act between my personal life, career and the business. However my support system has been amazing so there have been less tears and more fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily financially but the pride of making a dream a reality.
Does your husband play an active role in the business other than Chief moral and emotional supporter?
Papa T plays a huge role in this business. Besides watching over our son while I attend to orders he has become my driver, my Marketing Director, Accountant, he manages TMT’s twitter account and he’s my official taster 🙂 Just to give you an idea of how involved he is – over the Easter long weekend I was catering for a family lunch. For their dessert they wanted a cheesecake carrot cake that has a cream cheese frosting. I decided to try out a new recipe for the cheese cream frosting at 10pm on a Saturday night, which went horribly wrong. Most shops weren’t open because of the Easter weekend but that didn’t fret Papa T. He simply said “relax I’ll make a plan” and that has been his motto throughout this whole buisness venture. And true to his word, he made a plan and the cake was delivered on time.
How has this venture changed you?
I think I’ve become less afraid of taking risks – working in a corporate job teaches you to become used to routine. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with routine, but being outside of my comfort zone has been refreshing and invigorating. I don’t have time to get bored as I’m constantly thinking about how to improve or evolve my business.
How do you stay relevant and current? / What inspires your recipes?
I believe great food is timeless, no great chef out there has ever tried to change the essence of a Sunday Roast. This is what I try and do with food, I attempt to create timeless dishes that can be enjoyed by my children and their children. Food should bring families together because of the history behind a simple recipe.
What lessons have you learnt first about running a business?
If you don’t love what you’re doing then don’t do it.
If you’re in bed by 8pm every night then you’re doing something wrong.
And when you do go to bed and you’re not thinking or dreaming about new ideas for your business, then the chances of your business surviving beyond your generation is slim to none.
What is your vision for your business
Right now my main goal is to open up my deli, whatever happens beyond that will be a blessing.
If you knew the challenges you would face before embarking on this journey would you still have started Tastefully Mama T?
Yes definitely!! And I’m willing to go through those challenges over and over again because they have made me appreciate my family and friends, a good night’s rest and time management. I am confident and not afraid to say what I want or go after what I want. My challenges didn’t break me they made me.
What support network do you have other than Papa T ?
I’m blessed to have extremely supportive family and friends who have helped me since I started my business. My go to people are Papa T and my bestie, Shathiso Coyne. Shathiso has definitely been my emotional support system and my biggest cheerleader, urging me on when I thought I was going to throw in the towel. My confidence in baking came from when she encouraged me to make a gluten-free cheesecake which I thought I just couldn’t do. I cannot name everyone inidividually but I have loved ones who have listened to my ideas, referred clients to me, helped with babysitting and a million and one other things that are too numerous to mention.
As a wife and mother how do you get the balance right between, your day job, mummy, wife, CEO of home affairs and your business?
By being present and taking each role as it comes. This means when I’m with my son, nothing or no one else is important during this time. I don’t take work or business calls and I’m not thinking about the next order. The reason why people get stressed out is because they are constantly thinking of things they don’t have control over. Live in the present and enjoy the moment. This is a valuable lesson I learnt from Papa T, he never stresses about anything and I asked him why this is so and he simply said, “I’m here today, tomorrow hasn’t come.”
What advice would you give to women out there who have dreams of starting their own business?
The difference between you and a successful person is that they dared to make their dream a reality, don’t allow the fear of failure stop you from trying and never use your circumstances as an excuse for not taking the first steps to starting your business.