July ‘14
Insight Interview

July ‘14
Nino's Bakery
Nino's Bakery


She represents the best example of 'You are never too young to pursue your own dreams.' Suliema Benhalim, the '18 YEAR OLD' owner of Nino's Bakery is taking small, effective, strong steps towards her dream and may I say: she is doing a very delicious job!

What can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Suliema Benhalim. I am an eighteen-year-old Libyan Egyptian born and raised in Egypt. I love baking, horse riding and pineapples. I graduated from the Modern English School with the IB Diploma in 2013. I'm currently in a gap year pursuing my passion for baking and horse riding.

What inspired you to start Nino's Bakery?

Ever since I was a child I was passionate for baking and kitchen work. My mum, being a big inspiration, is an amazing cook and baker. She always had a dream of owning a baking business, which is one of the reasons behind Nino's. One of the things that truly inspired me was the idea of creating something artistic out of cake! The idea of making an edible 3D cake inspired from a dream, a picture or even a hobby or interest fascinates me!

When did your passion for baking start?

I always remember helping my mum bake when I was a child. I'm sure it was the licking the bowl part of the process!

What keeps you motivated to continue?

The joy people get when they eat what I bake!

What's your advice for anyone who wants to follow your footsteps?

I'd advise them to be brave and outgoing! Many people don't realize this but the baking process is actually difficult and challenging, especially creating recipes! I'd also advise anyone to be happy; if you bake while you're upset or angry the baked good is never as good, and that's something I have truly come to believe.

Do you remember the first recipe you ever baked? What was it?

The first recipe I have ever baked was my family's vanilla and chocolate cake. It is still by far one of the fluffiest and most moist cakes I have ever made.

What's the hardest process in customizing a cake?

The hardest process in customizing a cake is trying to exceed the customers' expectations and baking their dream into a reality!

What was the strangest order you ever took?

The strangest order was a pig cake and another cat cake! The pig cake was a pig in mud. They were both very strange.

What's the one thing you hate about your job?

The fact that some people don't appreciate what we do, how long it takes or how hard it is! I work because I love baking and I love making people happy, yet some people don't understand how much effort we put in the small details! Being a baker isn't easy, but it's a lot of fun.

The decision to take a year of college is not a usual one, especially here in Egypt. How did you take such a bold decision? Is it something you always wanted to do?

I honestly never planed a gap year. I took the decision because I was supposed to study abroad but I wasn't in great health. I couldn't travel and live alone, so I deferred entry to 2014 and took the decision of taking a year off to get better.

How did your parents react to your decision?

My parents actually wanted me to take the gap year; oddly I was the one refusing.

What do you plan to study in future?

I want to study Law and Economics.

What are the pros and cons of having your own business at such a young age?

Cons include people not taking you seriously! Some tend to believe that I'm not equipped or they don't believe that I don't have someone working for me and I'm in charge of it! Another con is that I don't have experience when it comes to contracts, taxes and paper work. On the other hand, a pro is the fact that it motivates me! Another pro is that I can reach a greater deal of people.

Where do you see Nino's Bakery in 10 years?

I see Nino's Bakery becoming an actual store with a good reputation! One day I'd love to have Nino's Bakery turn into something like Charles Cake Angels in South Africa.

My role models are my mother, father and Malala Yousafzai.

By Rania Ihab