PEOPLE: Passion for baking

Vianney Tokona in front of her stall at the Awesome Christmas Fiji Fair at the Ratu Sukuna Park in Suva last year. Picture: IAN CHUTE

Vianney Maria Filomena Tokona or Vee as she is known to her family, friends and workmates is a young woman with a passion for family. The 23-year-old works as a bartender and is also an entrepreneur.

“After leaving high school I went to university to study occupational health and safety which was back in 2016,” Vee said.

“The following year one of the units that I needed to do was not being offered in the trimester that I needed to do it so I decided to go to work for a while.”

She got a job working behind the bar at O’Reilly’s in heart of Suva City.

It started as a weekend thing but soon turned into a full time job and she has been there ever since. She said she always had a liking for baking and would usually bake for family.

“I used to bake for family functions and everyone started telling me to start my baking business.

“I did not really think about doing it until I got laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In March last year, as Fiji recorded its first COVID- 19 cases people and the economy went into lockdown, O’Reilly’s closed its doors.

“I felt helpless. I hated feeling like I couldn’t help bring home something for my family.”

After feeling down for a little while she applied to the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).

“The AWE is an educational opportunity for women entrepreneurs. It teaches the basics of running a business.”

After going through the program and getting some mentoring from members of the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council she started Crumbly Cakes.

“I was scared at first, but then I thought I’d never know unless I try, I couldn’t just keep sitting at home waiting for a job.” In December 2020 she received her business licence and registered Crumbly Cakes.

“I was really proud of myself. It was a real achievement for me to branch out and do something like this on my own.”

She says her ultimate inspiration to start Crumbly Cakes was her mother Joana Ugavule. She said her mother kept their family going when Vianney and her father were laid off.

“When times were at their hardest just watching her make something out of nothing, like with our meals she would just use whatever she had and it always tasted good.

“She taught me to be fearless and that in life there are no failures, only lessons.”

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