While the expression “You are whom you walk with” holds true to varying degrees, it is often used in an exaggerated manner to highlight the impact of the company we keep on our outcomes.
However, Kimberly Coleman is undoubtedly a living example of the positive effects of the afore-mentioned statement. For as long as she can remember, she has always been thrilled by how combining multiple raw ingredients could be transformed into a sumptuous dish. Similarly, she has been fascinated by guessing what items went into the making of another.
The passion would have amounted to nothing if it were not for the influence of her grandmother – Mayfair Ako.
As the Ghanaian food industry continues to see significant growth, with the restaurant sub-sector alone increasing at an annual rate of 20 percent over the last five years and is expected to continue at a similar pace over the next decade, Kim – as she is affectionately called – wants to contribute to the growth of the food industry.
Her dream is to make her restaurant, ‘Kimberrys Café and Bakery’, a household name not only a place to find good food, but a place where you can call home. It comes as no surprise that the majority of her customers, especially women, believe that Kim’s amazing recipes have changed the popular saying that “Good food is a way to a man’s heart,” to “Good food is a way to capture the heart of any gender”.
Early life and hereditary influence
Kimberly was born in France, as the only child of a Ghanaian mother and a French father. As an infant, she relocated to Ghana and was raised by her grandmother at Asawase in Kumasi, specifically A54 near the Manhyia Palace, until she was five years old.
Inadvertently, Kim’s house provided her with the very first experience she needed to develop the skills-set needed in the hospitality industry.
Regarding her grandmother’s influence, she remarks: “My grandmother’s influence is the reason I am here today. She was a baker, and her own grandmother was also a baker so you can understand where that came from, so I grew up in a home where baking was done daily”.
At age nine, Kim already had a tabletop desk for herself near her grandmother’s shelf, where she sold bread and powdered milk to her friends. “My grandmother had the most profound impact on my life because she raised me. She was a well-known baker and she served as a wholesaler to shops, eateries and individuals,” she recounts.
Playing kitchen in grandma’s kitchen
Aged 10, Kim began to understand that she had already fallen in love with spending time in her grandmother’s kitchen. A set of cooking utensils made from milk tins – which was her grandmother’s first and most valuable gift to her – deepened her interest and served as confirmation that she was equipped and prepared to work in the hospitality industry. A happy memory that still makes her smile whenever she thinks about it.
From nursery and kindergarten to class four, Kim attended Garrison Primary School in Kumasi. She had to complete her academic education from classes five and six at the Kings International School, which is also in Kumasi. She was a gifted speaker who showed signs of entrepreneurship while being a bright youngster. She received a lot of attention from her teachers for her fluency in Twi.
When she was 13, Kim had to leave Kumasi since she had to move to Accra to finish secondary school. At Labone SDA Junior High School, where she finished her Junior Secondary School education, Kim did exceptionally well in both English and Ghanaian languages.
She quickly discovered how much she liked languages, next only to her passion for food, and decided to major in the arts when she eventually proceeded to continue her secondary education at the Tema Secondary School (Temasco), where she excelled again in both French and English.
“I was actually a fairly quiet student at school. I have always been intelligent, but I was best at languages. I was thus the top student in Twi when I lived in Kumasi, the top girl in Ga when I moved to Accra, and finally, the top student in French and English when I lived in Labone and attended SHS in Temasco. As a result, I performed much better in languages than in the sciences. I therefore always knew I would pursue the arts.”
Kim’s excitement at the prospect of focusing solely on the study of Spanish turned to disappointment when she discovered that her only option was to combine it with Psychology and English. Despite having to study psychology, English and Spanish, Kim excelled so much in Spanish that she was chosen as one of the best students to receive a scholarship to study in Cuba. However, Kim had to decline the scholarship citing a lack of interest.
Launching from Legon
After a few years in the world of languages, the long-hidden love for the hospitality industry at last returned with vigour. Subsequently, Kim started skipping lectures in favour of cooking her own meals. To her, she wanted to experiment with different dishes across different countries. She gained knowledge of new dishes by drawing on the limited experience she had teaching the Turkish Community. She also took advantage of friendships to try new spices from Egypt.
“I resided in a hostel off-campus, didn’t attend lectures like I used to and Game had opened newly at that time, so I would always go in to get a new grill pan or sauté pan since I was attracted by them. I also had a friend who was working in Egypt at the time, and I told him I wanted to sample new spices. I was therefore experimenting with various spices, so I enjoyed cooking,” she notes.
After experimenting with various recipes, Kim would share the results with her friends who made it a point to visit with new friends anytime Kim prepared a new dish.
Kim’s other driving force for entering the field commercially was how lucrative she realised the business could be. “I became even more interested in cooking after I realised how much money my grandmother was making from it. She frequently brought basins filled with cash and asked my other cousin and me to divide it up into the appropriate denominations,” she recalled.
A food vlogger is born
After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Ghana, Legon she relocated to the United States in 2010 as a result of marriage. Blessed with a baby and with more time on her hands as a new mother, she always found herself preparing more dishes than an ordinary wife would.
The idea of sharing a picture and a recipe for any cooked meal was made simple by the ever-popular application – Facebook. Her frequent posts, which she initially did as a pastime, caught people’s interest. She received loads of requests from social media friends to teach new recipes.
Return to Ghana
Kim returned to Ghana in 2012 and gained employment as a Producer for the ‘Famous TV Show’ in 2013. During that period, she combined producing, hosting and food vlogging on Instagram.
Kim made her first sale as a food vlogger in 2013, a sale that stayed consistent until she thought it wise to register the business a year later in January 2014.
“I used to prepare and deliver food to my coworkers in the office while I was still working at Famous TV, and I was vlogging at the same time. People started ordering stews, soups and cakes anytime I posted them on social media; and in 2014, I decided to register the business but still took orders from the comfort of my home,” she says.
The official opening
The time for Kim to take the next step was the start of the 2020 pandemic. She organised in person and virtual baking classes and due to the success of these masterclasses, she took the decision to establish a physical location for Kimberrys.
“The turning point for me was when I received numerous testimonials about the positive effects of sharing my recipes, including the ability to mend broken homes, strengthen bonds between people, and experience awe-inspiring moments.” She was particularly encouraged by the recognition she received as the owner of Kimberrys Café and Bakery on Instagram.
She then rented a place in Osu in 2020, where she formally began; and three years later, Kimberrys Café and Bakery is known as a brand that is popular across different age groups. “I had the ridiculous notion that I could do anything during COVID. I passed through the stages of depression at that time just like the majority of others, but my experience was more positive. I then made the decision to set up a space.”
Take the ‘I can do’ chances
Building and sustaining excellent relationships is the cornerstone of the company. Kim believes that being at peace with oneself is the foundation for doing so. One thing that keeps her motivated is learning to constantly say ‘yes’ to opportunities and chances before confirming her capacity to execute that work.
“Sometimes when people come in to ask for a particular flavour of a cake or dish, I quickly say I can but probably not in stock and immediately I start to do my research and experimentation, and when it doesn’t work out, I trash it and continue until I perfect it and it usually blows their expectation away,” she explained.
Despite having no prior formal experience in the culinary arts, Kim is optimistic that she will improve because she aims to enrol in more international culinary training programmes and publish books to motivate aspiring businessowners who want to work in the hospitality industry. “I definitely want to be greater than this and make Kimberrys a household name. I plan to enrol in more advanced courses and create cookbooks to inspire others and impart my knowledge,” the food maker stated.
Despite her very busy schedule, Kim’s ability to compartmentalise allows her to spend quality time with her family, which includes three young sons.