The Insider SA visits the world-famous Charly’s Bakery as they recount how Capitec has helped them adapt to the new normals of 2020.

In the historic area of District Six, Cape Town, we find the world-renowned Charly’s Bakery. Their story begins in Swakopmund, Namibia when a 16-year-old Charly took up an apprenticeship under a German Master Baker. Many years later, Charly and his wife Jacqui followed their dreams and opened a restaurant in 1989. After great success and with much demand, the couple eventually opened a retail bakery in the old Jewish Bookstore on Canterbury Street.

11 years later, and their iconic pink building has become one of Cape Town’s must-hit spots for tourists and locals alike. Jacqui explains, “We preserved this beautiful Victorian building for everyone to enjoy. We did paint it rather crazily outside. It looks like a great, big, pink cake and its brought lots of people to visit us.”

Charly’s is known for their colourful creations and their crazy twist on their classic bakery. Jacqui shares, “People loved what we did because the weirder and whackier we got and the more fun we had, the more people responded.”

2011 saw the launch of their TV show, Charly’s Cake Angels, which allowed fans to take an inner look into the behind-the-scenes magic of the bakery, as well as all the charities they continuously support. The show ran for two seasons and broadcast in over 100 countries. Since becoming world famous, Charly’s Bakery has even been named as one of the Top 24 cupcake shops to visit before you die by Buzzfeed.

Soon after the first season, great sadness fell on the family. The iconic master baker, Charly passed away in 2012, but their team remains as close and intimate as ever. Now, Charly and Jacqui’s two daughters, Alex and Dani, co-run Charly’s with their mom.

Dani shares, “I have grown up in this business and I’ve been working here full-time for the last 11 years. From the age of 14, I used to help out on the weekends decorating cupcakes and cookies. Charly’s Bakery has kind of become mine and my sister’s legacy. Now, our sons are growing up in the bakery and they’ll be involved one day too”.

Like most, lockdown put an immense strain on this family-run business. But as Jacqui likes to say, “Charly’s bakery has always been about innovation.” So, when lockdown arrived, Charly’s Angels knew they had to come up with a plan to ensure their bakery’s survival, as well as their staff’s livelihoods.

To help raise funds, the bakery embarked on a 45-day campaign to gather rewards-based donations. People who donated could qualify for cake vouchers, merchandise, online baking classes, and DIY cupcake kits to do at home. To date, the campaign has brought in more than R300 000 in donations.

Due to its success, Charly’s has continued to sell their ‘High Tea in a Box’ and, as Christmas approaches, a Christmas Cookie DIY kit where kids and adults alike can decorate gingerbread men and festive-shaped cookies with red, green, and white icing, fondant decorations, and sprinkles.

Head Cake Decorator, Jennifer ‘Yen’ Goldstein shares the highlight of her job, saying, “Seeing people’s reactions to the work I’ve done is absolutely the best thing. I’ve had a few people burst into tears which is really heart-warming. It’s so amazing to see people being happy around the stuff we create”.

Charly's Bakery Owner Jacqui Biess and Capitec Account Manager Chantelle Cader.

As a business that truly cares about its customers, Charly’s Bakery teamed up with Capitec for their similar values in service-driven business. Charly’s and Capitec have a long-standing relationship because of the bank’s invaluable support they’ve offered the bakery and their team.

Jacqui explains, “When we started off, Capitec came along and opened accounts for every one of my staff. There were so many things about Capitec that really worked for me, especially the fact that they understand restaurants. If we ever had a problem, they were there for us. They offered us Masterpass through which we could use Snapscan and Zapper. It just all made sense.” During lockdown, Capitec also eased the bakery’s transition into the ‘new normal’ by not charging Charly’s their regular merchant fee. “That was absolute gold,” Jacqui concludes.

As Charly’s Bakery gets used to a new chapter in their business, we see their future as bright as the cakes they bake.