We've lived most our lives in the Middle East but went to University in Canada where we studied marketing and finance. Both of us have a great passion for food and something else we have in common is that Nola is our first job!
Food is an Art and what you eat can make or break your day. In Canada we learned to appreciate food, because it exposed us to cuisines from across different cultures and the quality of product there was amazing. Typically, food was the center of our gatherings with friends from different countries and backgrounds. When Laila completed a cooking course, our passion for food was elevated to the next level.
In Egypt, there was the waffle and crepe buzz but cupcake stores had not yet caught on. Living in Canada made us aware of the global popularity of cupcakes. In Canada we satisfied our cupcake cravings from Itsy Bitsy; as its name suggests, it was a small bakery that stands to be one of Canada's best-kept sweet secrets. Also, whenever we drove down to New York, we would join long lines of people standing in the cold for a box of cupcakes from Magnolia's bakery. This observed fever for cupcakes got Laila thinking about opening a store in Egypt, where the cupcake hype that had started on Facebook confirmed that Egyptians were just as keen for the sweet dessert. So we took the risk and opened the first cupcake store in Egypt inspired by Magnolia's glam and Itsy Bitsy's deliciousness.
There were no cupcake stores in Egypt, so it was a good opportunity to be the first. Since cupcakes at the time were growing into a global trend, we hoped it would hit big here as it did elsewhere. Most of all however, cupcakes are little parcels of sweet joy, and we knew we could specialize in offering many flavors, toppings and unique cake decorating. We also decided to cater to Egypt's underserved diabetics as well as those who suffer from lactose intolerance.
At NOLA, we take hygiene, quality and consistency very seriously since these three factors build trust with customers. We prioritize our customers' comments, suggestions and inquiries, as we firmly believe that their input and satisfaction is vital. To maintain variety of choice we are constantly brainstorming and developing flavors with our eager clientele. We aim to be brand leaders, which for us will be achieved when NOLA becomes synonymous with its product: if you think cupcakes, you think of NOLA.
Yes!! Laila baked it and we still remember its taste. We were very proud to offer it to our family and friends.
After the first month of opening, customers were coming back just to get their NOLA cupcake fix. We were very gracious for them and definitely overwhelmed. By the end of the first year, we felt like we were responsible of something big; NOLA became an icon for cupcakes in Egypt. Our sphere of influence had expanded to include clients calling from abroad to place orders to be delivered to their family members and loved ones.
There are a few things that we consider as pillars for success-- don't be greedy; plan your work, then work your plan; appreciate and respect your team; never take no for an answer; listen love and respect your client; always give more and finally, but most importantly, work from the heart and love your work.
Our father is our best friend. The best thing he has done and continues to do for us till present day is believe in our capabilities. That on its own gives us the motivation to do more and excel in whatever we strive to do. He showed us the value of hard work, and the satisfaction derived when it pays off. He also taught us the importance of time management-- his approach is why do it tomorrow when you can do it today! From him we learned the importance of respecting oneself and others. Our father has provided us with unconditional love and support. I feel he is proud of us like we are proud of him.
We have big plans regarding expansion. We plan to open 6 new stores over Cairo and Alexandria. Our Zamalek branch has been relocated to 26th of July and will be opening soon. We plan to open in Mohandeseen (Lebanon St. in front of HSBC), Rehab, Obour City, Alexandria (inside Laila Restaurant and in Platform), and Sahel (alongside Diplo 3 and Porto Marina).
Our secret for you to find out.
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