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Job at local bakery?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I recently went into a local bakery to check them out. I have been considering opening a storefront next summer, working on my business plan now. Currently I am operating under the cottage food law out of my home kitchen. While I was there with my husband and kids, my husband mentioned that I also did cakes. I was offered a job, on the spot! I am a stay at home mom with 4 kids that I home school, the hours are Fridays and Saturdays, and they work great into my schedule. So I figured it would be a great way to get some experience.

I started last Friday, and was surprised by what the job entailed. Basically I stand there all day and pump out as many cakes as I can in an 8 hour shift. The cake orders are made 24 hours in advance, so I have no time to prepare for the orders I will be doing. I get an order slip that says the size (mostly sheet cakes) and a theme, and I have to come up with something on the spot, and decorate as quickly as possible. The cake is a box mix (not doctored), and icing is from huge tubs from sam's club.

Basically they are glorified grocery store cakes, at a higher price (albeit not much higher). I normally don't even offer sheet cakes. I am concerned that my reputation as a custom cake artist will suffer working at a place like this. I don't think that I want to be associated with cheap cakes.

I have mentioned my reservations with the other decorator (who came from a grocery store), and she said that she has tried to push them into something more elaborate, but they are completely resistant. I do not have a problem with their business model, there is definitely room for it in our area, but it certainly is not the business model I am looking for.

My question is, is it really worth it? Ultimately will it damage my image by being associated with the cakes that are produced from this bakery? Should I just focus more on marketing for my business and building a following for my eventual storefront? I am only making $8 an hour, and while the money will help, it is definitely not going to make or break me.

I know no one cane say for sure, but I would like opinions. I really don't want to waste my time. TIA
post #2 of 8
It may not be the type of store front you will open, but I bet you will still learn things. Maybe things not to do---or things that you like. Customers are not seeing you decorate their cake, so I don' t understand how working there will hurt your reputation--if that's what you think. Do what makes you happy...look it as paid training if nothing else. I think everyone always has something valuable to learn.
Debbie - US Army (Retired) --aka "The Cake Sarge"

Good Cake Ain't Cheap! Cheap Cake Ain't Good!
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Debbie - US Army (Retired) --aka "The Cake Sarge"

Good Cake Ain't Cheap! Cheap Cake Ain't Good!
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post #3 of 8
Just out of curiosity...does the owner know you have your own side business and that your long-term plan includes the option of a storefront? I'd be interested in knowing what their opinion is of that.

I wouldn't be so worried about your reputation being affected by the simple fact that you are decorating their sheet cakes. In fact, I would see that as a great selling point for you once you have your own storefront - a way for you to distinguish your work from theirs. The flipside though may be a matter of whether you trust the owner not to bad mouth you to customers once you are gone, but that's a different issue entirely.
post #4 of 8
I'm going to preface this by saying that I am not a pastry chef, nor have I ever worked as a decorator for anyone but myself. I should add that I'm not hugely busy.

That said, I doubt that this job will do anything but help you. Churning out cakes all day will certainly help you get faster at your technique, which will help you in your custom business by allowing you to get more done in a weekend, thus making more money.

Many, many people have 2 jobs. I doubt your reputation would suffer when people associate you with the grocery store. More like, Oh, you work there too? You could even play it off like "Oh, yes, they needed some help on weekends". Make it sound like you are bailing them out. After all, your portfolio won't look the same as the cakes you make at the store.
Fall down 7 times....get up 8
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Fall down 7 times....get up 8
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post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarciaGM

Just out of curiosity...does the owner know you have your own side business and that your long-term plan includes the option of a storefront?



This is very important and I hope you've already discussed it with your employer.

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post #6 of 8
I kind of do the same thing. I don't do it for the money but the experience instead. Most of it is not my style of decorating but I'm taking so much else out of it. One day she might retire and I could potentially buy the business and do things differently. She does have great scratch recipes but I would like to get away from some of the grocery store style cakes or those wilton shape pans (hate doing stars).
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarciaGM

Just out of curiosity...does the owner know you have your own side business and that your long-term plan includes the option of a storefront? I'd be interested in knowing what their opinion is of that.




Yes, I have been completely honest with them. They even told me that I can do some of my cakes up there after hours and use all their equipment. I have also told them that my goal is to open a storefront of my own in a neighboring town. They are very supportive. They have even said that any work that I do I can put in my own portfolio, which I am not much interested in unless it is a wedding cake. In addition, because they know I plan to open my own bakery some day, they will give me some insight into the business side of things. (I know, amazing people!!)

I also want to add that I do not have anything against the bakery, or the people that work there. I have had a few people tell me that they do not like their products (they also do homemade breads and pastries), I just worry that people will think that if I work there that I will make the same quality products on my own.

It is a very new business, but they have owned several other food businesses in the past. It is only the owner and his wife and a full time decorator. The storefront is very small, and the decorating is done directly behind the counter, not back in the kitchen, so anyone that walks in the store WILL see me decorating cakes.

Thanks for all the replies, I guess I will stick it out for a while and learn what I can, while I can.
post #8 of 8
This sounds similar to the bakery where I currently work. It is a high volume, full service bakery with fresh bread, pies etc. The cakes are ok, the buttercream is super sweet and the decorators are required to do a TON in an 8 hour shift. We ask for 24 hrs for cake orders but we still take them when people call the day of (and it drives me crazy when they do that!). But you know what, I've just kept my head down, my ears open and I do the best I can within the parameters of the job. I've learned a lot about the business side of running a bakery just by watching and listening. I don't pay much attention to the sheet cakes and birthday cakes but every now and then someone comes in wanting a custom design for a wedding cake and I take advantage of that as best I can.

I say, learn what you can and take it all to your business when you do open it. Even if it's just 'what not to do'
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