Happy Birthday

I started writing this blog just over two weeks ago. But boy, has it been expensive to find time?! Though, this is no wonder. With the world opening up again and life resuming to normality, we’re getting busier by the day! To think. Many said that the Covid-19 season meant the end of life as we knew it – that things would never return to ‘normal’. But for some of us, it was always clear. There’s nothing new under the sun. The Bible tells us so. Even if you have not personally seen or experienced something before, someone else already has. And has lived through it.

Think of the Bubonic Plague, the Spanish Flu and Influenza, by way of example. All centuries apart but each brought the world to its knees just like Covid 19 did. Yet men lived through them. And life returned to normal. Not even a new normal, but just normal. And our generation is proof of this truth. Because until Covid-19 hit, life was normal. So, the generations before us somehow found their way back to normal despite their life-changing experiences. Granted, those dispensations likely introduced some new things. After all, how can you live through such experiences and go back to the exact same way things were before? If not as a society, even just as an individual? It is expected that somethings new must be borne through these experiences.

And we’re seeing this in the aftermath of Covid-19. For those of us in formal workplace environments, one of the most remarkable and welcome changes has been the shift to remote working in careers that permit this. Gone are the days where productivity was confined to the four corners of one’s office in a building with a visible logo. In the home, the value and importance of the family unit has been given greater pre-eminence than ever before. Men have a better appreciation of this foundational and ever important institution, and are investing more of everything into it (time, money, effort, etc). In business, we have learnt that if you are not dynamic, adaptable and ever evolving with the times, you may be left behind or even lose your relevance entirely. What a frightening but empowering thought! And for the Church, we hear the rumblings of a new move of the Spirit. And we eagerly await its manifestation. After all, God must speak a certain away, and do something new, in and through such experiences.

But this conversation is for another day. And is not the reason that I put pen to paper a few weeks ago for the purposes of this blog.

Happy Birthday’ is a phrase we hear often. Sometimes even to the point of not really hearing it at all, simply because we’ve become so familiar with these words. I mean, every single day marks the birthday of a few thousands of people on the earth. So, we’re always saying this phrase, even almost unconsciously and subconsciously. It’s not often that we take the time to ponder on what we’re actually saying – except, of course, when it is our own special day *hides face*. We have become accustomed to the event, celebrating it and then moving on to the next, but hardly pausing through it all.

Undoubtedly, the majority of our customers approach us seeking a birthday cake for a special person. And we love it. After all, we’re here to cake along with you. And so, together with you, we create beautifully themed cakes that seek to embody what that person represents. And from where we sit, this always plays out in an interesting manner. Sometimes we love the designs, and other times not quite so much. Where the customer goes wild, we get to play, and where we’re not given much room to manoeuvre, we still put our best foot forward with the aim of ensuring that the customer is satisfied. Sometimes nicknames or pet names are used, and other times none at all. In some cases, photos of the birthday girl or boy are included – sometimes even with the person placing the order; and in other cases something symbolic is incorporated. Regardless, what is always abundantly clear is that the person means so much to the customer and the cake is designed to show just that. Red Velvet, Chocolate, Vanilla, Lemon, Carrot, etc – it all turns on what the star of the show likes or the flavour that best describes him or her. And we’re always up for the challenge. We approach every cake with passion and excitement, and eagerly await the feedback of our customers. An order in, and we thank God. And an order out, and we thank God still. Whether we’re dealing with a golf fanatic or dog lover, a sweet sixteen or themed toddler’s party, a milestone birthday or one’s very first, it never takes long to land on something suitable. You simply name it, and we cake it! And the more you draw from within in expressing yourself, the more we’re guaranteed to reproduce that same love in the cake.

On 07 June 2022, Tsim & Bibi celebrated one year to the date on which it opened its doors at Morning Glen Shopping Centre in Gallo Manor, Johannesburg. And this had me pondering more deeply on these celebrations we call birthdays. While this was not a typical birthday for us, because Tsim & Bibi was established in 2011 and previously had a store at Sandton View Shopping Centre in Bryanston, Johannesburg, this milestone was nonetheless significant for us. After all, we were celebrating 12 months of continuous business from our base in Gallo Manor. How we’ve grown and evolved over that period, the team we’ve built, the products we’ve developed, the brand we’re creating, and the expansion and progression of our vision. Being the reason for our existence. That after 12 months of investment, very hard work, passion poured out, late nights, trials, errors, repeats, missteps, learnings and unlearning’s, we’re still standing. And standing strong. Definitely a pause-worthy occasion.

That said, despite the many successes of our first year in operation from Gallo Manor, what remains abundantly clear to us is that Tsim & Bibi has not even begun yet. And we’re clear that when we do get to the beginning of our story, we’ll know it. For now, we’re just getting started. And while this story is backed by a clear vision and dream, it will take the day-to-day to get there. So, with our chef jackets on, heads down, mixers churning, baking tins filled, ovens cooking, and eyes on the prize, we keep at it. When we look back, we see what started as a hobby, baking at home, but has now transitioned into a business, operating in the retail industry. We’ve gone from self-teaching to learning from those that have gone ahead of us. From dreaming as far as the kitchen can take things, to dreaming for the whole world from our bakery. Conceptualising, incubating, creating, investing and expanding. And while this may not look significant to the outside world, we’re gaining momentum with every day that passes. We’re writing a story, we can see that story developing, and we’re assured that we’re going somewhere. As Diddy (aka Sean Combs aka Love) puts it, ‘can’t stop; won’t stop’! And we’ll see you at the top (my addition)!

Our hope is that birthdays also mean the same to you. That beyond the unforgettable celebrations and the delicious cakes that come with them, the experience of age brings with it the maturity of purpose. That we use every circle around the sun to reflect. To look back at where we’ve come from, to bask in the glory of the present in all its fullness, but also to dream for the future. And, in so doing, to take the hard decisions. To forgo some things, change some things, accept correction, break a little, learn, push harder, do away with some of the lawful and permissible, and strive only for the beneficial and expedient – all with the aim of better positioning ourselves to achieve the goals set before us. To find purpose. To live meaningful and impactful lives that will be spoken of beyond the years of our lives here on earth. And that will leave the generations following better off simply because of our testimonies. Because it’s one thing to touch lives. But another to change them. And this is the key to unlocking the whole world.

So, whether it be in Business or Ministry. As a Student or Engineer or Doctor or Lawyer or Banker or Caker (like Tsim & Bibi). In whatever place or state you find yourself, purpose today to make your mark and leave your unique imprint on the earth. Because the world is waiting for you. Birthdays are brilliant reminders of this indelible truth, because we were all born for a reason and with a specific purpose embedded in us. It’s only in unleashing this that we’ll live out our fullest potential on the earth.

To the persons celebrating their birthdays today. Happy Birthday! Here’s to making your story count. Now, go ahead and eat some cake while you’re at it.

Yours in baking,

Chi

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