TUMISANG NDLOVU: In this week’s SME Corner by Moneyweb we speak to the owner of Outie, Sibusiso Radebe, welcome.
SIBUSISO RADEBE: Thank you very much for having me.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: Talk us through your business, what do you do?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: Outie Bakery Café is a bakery restaurant.We are based in Newtown, directly opposite the Market Theatre entrance. So what we do is we provide freshly baked products, artisan bread, pastries and so on. Over and above the freshly baked products we also cater for people who would want to come and enjoy a relaxing environment, where they can come in for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between. We have a wide range of products from breakfast to salads to pizza. So that’s what we do. What makes us different is that everything that we produce from the burger roll that you would enjoy with your hamburger is produced in-house.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: How did you find yourself in this space?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: I’d say by accident, I used to work in the corporate environment. I was sitting in a boardroom with a study group in 2014, and the idea just came up that I should open a bakery. But at the time the bakery I was thinking of was a normal bakery, mass production, producing bread to deliver to different spaza shops, and so on. As the idea starting sinking into my head it then evolved from just being a mass-production bakery which would have required high volumes, to something that would be a bakery in-house, where you get what you want and everything is produced there.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: Finding yourself in the Newtown precinct, quite a vibrant environment, how did you choose that particular spot?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: As you say, it’s an artistic, vibrant environment. And when I looked around, even though there was a mall that was built already, there wasn’t a relaxing environment where one could come in and it would make no difference whether you were sitting in Rosebank or sitting in Sandton or sitting in Newtown. So my aim was to create an environment to encourage people to come to the inner city, come to Newtown and have the same experience that they would have in the northern suburbs.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: What’s the behind the name Outie?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: The company is registered as AllowUs2-U. The intention is that we will grow and expand, so it will be a conglomerate or a Bidvest-type of business, where we can say, ‘allow us to bake for you, allow us to transport you and allow us to do whatever.’ Outie resonated with me, so I decided to call it Outie and our logo and images then came from the name Outie. We’ve got three images of gents.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: I find that very fascinating – outies in the bakery world, in the restaurant world, which is sometimes misconstrued as a female’s place. Do you personally bake?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: Yes, I bake. I bake at home mostly, so my kids and wife enjoy my bakes. At the bakery I don’t do most of the baking, but I do bake. We have experienced bakers who are trained and experienced in the field and they do most of the baking.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: Talk to us about the transition from corporate to being a business owner, running your own staff complement and making sure that the books balance.
SIBUSISO RADEBE: Outie is a new shop. We have been open for just under a month now. When I left corporate I was doing a bit of consulting, and what that taught me is that it’s not the same as being in corporate. In corporate you can work as hard as you want or you can do as little as possible not to get fired, or you can barely scratch the surface, but there’s always that guarantee of your salary at the end of the month. In this particular instance it’s quite different in that all the things that you do are things that you have to do to make sure that you get money at the end of the month. You have to work hard to balance each and every cent that goes out, and make sure that each and every cent that comes in is accounted for. The corporate experience helped me in a way that I understood.
I’ve got an HR background. I’ve always been in HR. I know that, irrespective of the industry you are in, your employees will either make or break you – so it’s really dependent on how you treat your employees. For managers who tend to treat their employees fairly and be harsh when it’s required, or tell them they are not doing what is required, it depends on the manner that you do it. Then those people will be with you, they will go to war with you.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: Foot traffic? How have you been received so far in the Newtown precinct?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: It has been great because we are opposite the Market Theatre entrance. So the Market Theatre people are also happy in the sense that their patrons now have a place to go and relax and grab a quick dinner before they go to the show, or grab some coffee or baked stuff, which is something that they didn’t have.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: So true, it’s a totally different experience from every other restaurant that is around there.
SIBUSISO RADEBE: Absolutely, our aim is to make sure that we are an alternative to what is already available in the mall. We’re not a loud place, so you can come in and relax, sit on the couch. Whether you want to have a meeting or have fun with friends or family, it’s an environment that caters for that.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: Challenges that you faced in this journey?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: The biggest challenge was to get started, getting started in the sense that it’s a huge project, which is capital-intensive. Inasmuch as I had savings put aside to make sure that I start or go into this journey, because of the time it took it depleted whatever was available. So I think the biggest challenge was funding. It came through, but just for the time it took to come through it was a challenge.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: What can we expect from the brand going forward? Where to for Outie in its infancy stage?
SIBUSISO RADEBE: For the next year or two the intention is that we build the brand, we place our feet firmly on the ground. It’s a brand that is known for providing good food, quality service and making sure that whoever comes into contact with us has a good experience. What we would like to do is have other Outie shops in the near future – not in the next 24 months but thereafter. We will see how it goes; we might even franchise Outie.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: We wish you all the best.
SIBUSISO RADEBE: Thank you very much.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: That was Outie Bakery Café owner, Sibusiso Radebe, in this week’s SME Corner with Moneyweb.