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Was it always like this?

post #1 of 226
Thread Starter 
I've had a cake business for just over a year now, and I'm really happy with the success we've been having. We started off strong, gained a reputation quickly, and it all came together nicely. I have a business / marketing background.

Also, this is in a state that does not allow home bakeries, and where most / all venues check to make sure that you are licensed and insured before you deliver the cake.

I've noticed recently that I have been completely inundated with calls / emails from people that seem to have romanticized the idea of having a cake business. I just did a big public event yesterday, and I was shocked at the number of people that approached me about this, so I had to post!

I notice a couple different kinds of people.. the first (and most prevalent!) is the person - usually a housewife or student - who emails to say that they are an artist and/or big fan of Ace of Cakes, and have decided that Cakes are *THE THING* they were meant to do with their life. They want to open a business, and either need advice ("Where do I start??"), or want to work for free to get experience before going out on their own.

This gets annoying, as I've had people contact me before even finding out the regulations... ie I have to start out by saying "You need to find a licensed kitchen.." which gets me a "Oh. I can't do this at home??" in reply. Ugh! Why email me if you haven't at least STARTED research first??

The other is the recent culinary student who usually goes to a crappy school (that they picked off a TV commercial during horrible daytime talk shows, I bet!), then decides they know ABSOLUTELY everything about the biz, and either wants advice / work for free as above.

I've called it the "Ace of Cakes" effect, but maybe there is more to it. I have friends that are wedding photographers (yay, networking!), and they experience the SAME sorta thing there... only in their case, it's people who go buy a nice camera, and decide then and there that they are a pro photographer. In this case, it's the "I just took a Wilton course, and now I'm going to get rich by making cakes!"

Anyway, I'm firmly of the opinion that you need to be a *business person* to be *in business*. I'm sure there are many successful cake people out there without a background in business, but I doubt there are many successful cake people who aren't at least naturally gifted with a business mind.

I'm just wondering.. is this a nation wide thing? Has this been the way it always is in this industry.. or is it just an economy / trendy thing? You really don't see the same sort of blindly romanticized outlook on starting a business the same way with most industries!

Talking to some of these people, I really think they have these visions of nothing but being artsy and piping frosting all day.. and they have NO idea how boring / mundane / annoying / expensive the REAL ins and outs of running a business are.

Know what I mean?
post #2 of 226
This happens all the time. When I was getting married, I participated in the Knot forums. No less than 10 of the brides I got to know all over the country decided that planning their wedding was soooo much fun that they were going to become full time wedding planners.

I get apprentice/interns in all the time, many of whom have masters degrees in other disciplines who decide that this is what they want to do with their lives, and they go to culinary school. One in particular had absolutely no talent for cooking whatsoever.

I think people are always looking for their " dream" job, and TV makes a kitchen look a lot more glamorous than the 16 hour days days and 100 degree kitchens really are on a daily basis.
Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
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Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
Reply
post #3 of 226
This happens more than you might think even with other "creative" businesses. I ran an art gallery/frame shop for 15 years and all kinds of people thought they could do what I did. They saw what custom framing cost them and thought we were making a killing, not so! I actually worked for one woman who bought an existing gallery who couldn't even read a tape measure agghhhhh. When even 1/32 of an inch makes a difference, you have to be able to read a tape measure. Same thing with baking and cooking, you cannot just jump in and start doing 6 tier wedding cakes and making huge profits, not going to happen.
THE CANDY MAN CAN 'CAUSE HE MIXES IT WITH LOVE AND MAKES THE WORLD TASTE GOOD
WILLY WONKA
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THE CANDY MAN CAN 'CAUSE HE MIXES IT WITH LOVE AND MAKES THE WORLD TASTE GOOD
WILLY WONKA
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post #4 of 226
Thread Starter 
Oh, I forgot about the wedding planner thing!!

I wonder why no one stops and thinks "gee, I had so much fun planning my wedding.. I bet most other women also have that much fun planning their own wedding, and don't hire wedding planners"

I personally didn't go to culinary school. I'm one of those freaks that was born knowing how to cook, lol. The thing is - and I don't know if this is just a local thing - but the way culinary school is advertised here.. it's really put me off ever even considering it. Like they market to total idiots.

My favorite is the commercial that says "Is this what cooking is like for you?", then shows some moron burning himself repeatedly.. like trying to grab a hot pot out of an oven without gloves, etc. Repeatedly exclaiming "OWW!!!". Then it says something to the effect of "Do you want cooking to be more like this?", just showing someone sauteeing something. Very lowest-common-denominator, ya know?
post #5 of 226
Thread Starter 
Btw, am I being too cynical for taking "I want to get into the business, and will work for free" to mean "I want you to train me for free so that I can go out and be your competition as soon as I think I'm ready!"?
post #6 of 226
I take on interns from culinary schools and it has worked out great for me, but the health department in my county is so strict and real estate so expensive that they'd need to come up with about $200,000 to become my competition.
Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
Reply
Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
Reply
post #7 of 226
I'm not in the cake business but I do make cakes for friends and family as a hobby. I'd love to get licensed and officially start a business but I need to find a kitchen to work out of and the courage to quit my accounting job! I can see both sides of the debate.

Ace of Cakes definitely started a craze with the general public, but the show also motivated more people who would have purchased typical "bakery" cakes to go out in search of something more creative.

The people who do not have a natural talent for baking or the culinary background and a strong creative side will easily be "weeded out" after attempting their first cake or two. It might be fun just to let them try it out and see what happens icon_lol.gif
post #8 of 226
I'm have a degree in interior design and I work as a kitchen designer. I think the cake business is experiencing what the design business went though thanks to HGTV and shows like Trading Spaces (which is the most HORRIBLE design show ever!).

I have had people basically tell me they can do what I do because they sit on the couch and watch these shows 10 hours a day. Ummm, don't think so but go ahead and try. Just don't call me when you screw it up..no on second though do call me. I charge double to fix screw ups..lol.
An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind...
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An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind...
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post #9 of 226
Well, I started making cake about 12 years ago for my boys for their birthdays, long before Ace of Cakes... I guess I am just that kind of "housewife" I would love to start a business so day. I guess maybe I'm not entitled to that dream since I've only been able to take "Wilton courses". I am deeply hurt, offended and discouraged by this post and now feel like this isn't the warm helpful place I thought it was. icon_sad.gificon_cry.gificon_sad.gif
~My three-year-old son with pony tail "spikes" (He's really Sonic the Hedgehog)
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~My three-year-old son with pony tail "spikes" (He's really Sonic the Hedgehog)
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post #10 of 226
This seems to be a problem everywhere. It seems as if someone's grandmother, aunt, etc. had decorated a cake that they could have made a fortune in the business. They didn't need classes or business sense because it's just cake. Augh!!

Maybe someday someone will think before asking or leaping.

Michele
Don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.
Galations 6:9, NLT

Author of "The Sugar Fix" cookbook and "Bloomin' Garden" DVD.
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Don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.
Galations 6:9, NLT

Author of "The Sugar Fix" cookbook and "Bloomin' Garden" DVD.
Reply
post #11 of 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllCakedOut

Btw, am I being too cynical for taking "I want to get into the business, and will work for free" to mean "I want you to train me for free so that I can go out and be your competition as soon as I think I'm ready!"?

. . . I'm sure that some are indeed looking for a free education . . . however, not necessarily . . . back in the day, I would have made this type of offer to get my foot in the door (realizing I would NEED to be trained and understanding that it costs money to train people I wouldn't have expected anyone to hire me, unless I had something to offer) . . . I would have gladly apprenticed under anyone that would take me, with the idea that at the end of the training period I might possibly gain a job in a field I loved (if I was able to prove myself as a valuable addition to the company . . . if not, at least I would have gained some experience that the next employer might have found valuable) . . . and I would have worked my butt off trying to prove myself . . . now, I also realize that many of the "younger generation" (gen y's) are not necessarily cut from the same cloth . . . so it may or may not be a workable arrangement . . .
. . . Think of things not as they are . . . but as they might be . . . Don't merely dream . . . but create!!!
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. . . Think of things not as they are . . . but as they might be . . . Don't merely dream . . . but create!!!
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post #12 of 226
I am in the same boat as you mindywith3boys and I hope AllCakedOut isn't talking about people like us. I've been baking since I was about 5 and learning every day since. I think the complaint is with the people that may have thrown together a few box mixes with some frosting out of the can and think they should be able to make the cakes they see on TV.
post #13 of 226
This really is a pessimistic view! Plenty of people have successful businesses without formal business training. I too thought this was a site to encourage other bakers/decorators, many of whom started out in those Wilton courses. May I ask, AllCakedOut, how you started out in cake decorating? I'm not trying to be rude, I just think you might have an "All Caked Out" attitude!
post #14 of 226
prime example of no formal training......

Colette Peters
Keep on cakin'!
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Keep on cakin'!
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post #15 of 226
Well I guess I am the wilton class decorator! I see both sides of the story! I am the stay at home mom baking cakes and who has taken wilton classes. I am selling my cakes and staying home with my 4 boys(4 yr old triplets and a 2yr old son). I thank that cake decorating is an art form and if your good enough you can sell them!!!


check out my site www.swheatleycakes.com icon_smile.gif
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