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Charging Family Members for Sculpted Cakes?

Poll Results: Do you charge family members anything for very expensive labor intensive cakes (sculpted or multi-tiered)?

Poll expired: Oct 19, 2012  
  • 50% (17)
    Just supplies
  • 26% (9)
    Full cost of cake
  • 23% (8)
    Nothing at all
34 Total Votes  
post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Not sure if I'm even putting this in the right forum, if not, I apologize.

I guess I'm just venting here but I'd like to know what other members think of this. Whether you think I'm wrong or right, just let me have it straight.

I typically do labor intensive sculpted cakes for which I charge my customers a fair price. I tell them what it will cost and they pay...no muss no fuss.

Now, when a family member (on my side) says they need a cake, I charge them for supplies ONLY and donate my time. Invariably, I'm asked to do labor intensive sculpted cakes. I don't mind losing my hourly rate as they are family but I think it's fair for supplies to be paid for.

Now to clarify, I have done sculpted and regular tiered cakes for my fiance's side of the family. They INSIST on paying whatever that particular cake would cost a regular paying customer. They have stated that they understand the amount of work that goes into these cakes.

On the other hand, when I do a cake for my side of the family, they only pay for supplies (and sometimes not even that much). I'm told "that's what families do for each other."

Recently, my brother-in-law (on my side) called me and asked me to do a large Coach Purse Cake (along with Gum Paste high heels) for my sisters birthday party. I told him I would need $100 for supplies. He agreed, paid and she got an amazing cake (in my gallery). I would charge a regular customer about $400-$450 for that cake.

Now she and my b-i-l want me to do a cake for my nieces birthday next month. My niece is 17 and she wants a sculpted cake that looks like the Disney Castle along with gumpaste figures of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Snow White....etc. I told her that she would need to pay $150 for supplies as this is a LARGE cake but that I would donate my time to build it. Please keep in mind that this would be a $600 cake for ANYONE else. My sis BLEW UP when I told her this. She says I should do the cake for free since I'm the uncle and godfather. I tried to explain to her the amount of time this kind of cake would take and how much money I would lose since I wouldn't be able to work on other cakes. I'm not about to go $600 in the hole just to do a cake for a family member. I might as well hand my niece a check for $600 and say Happy Birthday. Sorry, but I don't have that kind of money for a Birthday gift.

She could care less. As I've been told over and over, it's ridiculous for you to charge family members for cakes...."that what families do for each other."

Now I'm hearing that even though she loved her birthday cake (she cried when she first saw it), she's upset that I charged my brother-in-law for her birthday cake. She thought it was "ridiculous." I'm to the point where I'm honestly thinking about not doing any cake for family unless they pay what a regular customer would pay.

So, what do you all think? Am I wrong to expect the supplies to be paid for on a family members cake? Am I looking at this all wrong? Has anyone else run into this issue??

Thanks much for any input!
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
post #2 of 39
I would use the comparison of a general contractor. If a member of your family was a general contractor, would they expect him/ her to provide all the materials to remodel their bathroom as well as providing the labor? Hopefully they will get the idea. And no, I don't think you are wrong. I think people don't realize how much is involved in the way of time and money. The average person's idea of what it takes to make a cake involves a box mix, a can of frosting and some of those candy letters.
post #3 of 39
Considering you can't legally sculpt the characters or the castle without Disney's permission, perhaps you can suggest a simpler cake that uses licensed character toppers you can purchase as a gift.
post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyhawke917

I would use the comparison of a general contractor. If a member of your family was a general contractor, would they expect him/ her to provide all the materials to remodel their bathroom as well as providing the labor? Hopefully they will get the idea. And no, I don't think you are wrong. I think people don't realize how much is involved in the way of time and money. The average person's idea of what it takes to make a cake involves a box mix, a can of frosting and some of those candy letters.



Thanks for the perfect analogy. icon_biggrin.gif It's too true that people don't realize how much time goes into this. All these people (non-cake people) watch Cake Boss and say to themselves, "Look at that! They did that beautiful sculpted dragon (or whatever) in 30 minutes on the show"...lol

I understand that the everyday lay person doesn't understand just how involved a sculpted cake is....but my family does know how much work it takes. They've seen me working on cakes, they've heard me talk about how involved it is to do a cake like this. They've heard what I charge customers for these cakes and they know that it isn't a huge profit margin. Yet, my sister still feels entitled to free cakes....lol

Thanks for the input...much appreciated icon_biggrin.gif
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Considering you can't legally sculpt the characters or the castle without Disney's permission, perhaps you can suggest a simpler cake that uses licensed character toppers you can purchase as a gift.



Thanks much for the input, Jason.

No offense to yourself or any others on the forum that use these....but I wouldn't use a licensed character topper on one of my cakes if you offered to pay off my entire business and every bill I have. My cakes are custom, one-of-a-kind cakes....not Walmart cakes. Someone wants their Walmart cake with the Mickey topper...go 4 miles down the road and take a right and look for the pick-up trucks.

I'm a professionally trained cake designer. I didn't pay $20,000 for school to put some cheesy topper on one of my cakes.

As far as offering to do a simpler cake, I won't do that. I'm known in the area for the particular skill I have and that is sculpted cakes and/or theme cakes. I don't do simple cakes. You can go to Walmart for simple cakes or even hit Carvel if you want a whale shaped Ice Cream cake. That's not me and that's not what I do. My simplest cakes start at $250 and go from there. If you aren't willing to pay for my skill and effort, go someplace else....especially if I've offered to donate my time as long as you pay for supplies. I have bills to pay just like everyone else.

To be honest, my sister wouldn't even accept an offer to do a simpler cake. She wants one of MY cakes and that's that. She wants to be able to show off to her friends (and my nieces friends) that she got one of my cakes.

I just found out that my sis told other people that the reason I shouldn't have charged her for her cake is that I should look at all of the "publicity" I received from doing her cake....lmao So far, I've been approached by 7 people from her party. Want to know how many of those decided to buy a Purse cake when they found out what it really cost?

Zip
Zero
Zilch
Nada

Again, these people want these high-end cakes and have a Walmart budget. If I did some rinky-dink cake to keep it cheap for my sis, then Ive got 50 people coming to me for that rinky-dink cake and expecting it at the price I gave it to her at..NO THANKS.

As for the first part of your answer, I am very aware of what I can and cannot do legally. That's my business and besides, you weren't really answering my question to begin with. I wasn't asking how to rectify the situation (with offering a cheaper cake). I was simply asking if I was looking at this wrong and if anyone else had run into this issue.
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
post #6 of 39
Ladyhawke has the right idea..........pffft family........lucky can choose our friends right icon_smile.gif


Just had to edit this as I just went and looked at your cakes - they are fantastic.....I can tell how much work goes into it.

If it were me I would now say 'no family cakes'.......unless they are willing to pay. That is time you could be making a cake for a full paying customer. I would just use your sister as an example and say it is not worth getting offside with someone so better to keep cakes and family separate. Good luck with it icon_smile.gif
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Art_Cakery

To be honest, my sister wouldn't even accept an offer to do a simpler cake. She wants one of MY cakes and that's that. She wants to be able to show off to her friends (and my nieces friends) that she got one of my cakes.


Well then, in my opinion she should be paying the full cost of the cake if she will be showing it off. I'm assuming she will probably be publicly posting pictures of the final cake and generating "publicity", which makes copyright permission an even more important issue.

When customers ask for cakes with decorations that are protected by copyright, my response is to have the customer provide written permission from the copyright owner. If they can't procure permission they get a non-infringing cake, which usually ends up being less labor intensive. It is certainly possible to make a great looking non-infringing cake.

For family and friends, we don't charge if we offer to make the cake for them, but if they request a cake they pay full price.
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellawillow

Ladyhawke has the right idea..........pffft family........lucky can choose our friends right icon_smile.gif


Just had to edit this as I just went and looked at your cakes - they are fantastic.....I can tell how much work goes into it.

If it were me I would now say 'no family cakes'.......unless they are willing to pay. That is time you could be making a cake for a full paying customer. I would just use your sister as an example and say it is not worth getting offside with someone so better to keep cakes and family separate. Good luck with it icon_smile.gif



What she said no more cakes for family since they obviously don't appreciate your effort
post #9 of 39
Well, you know, there really is an easy solution to this problem.

JUST.SAY.NO.
post #10 of 39
My friends and family get 25% off across the board. It is up to them up to them choose a cake that they'd like and they'll get a discount on it, but that's it. If *I* choose to give a gift, that's a different story of course - and typically those cakes end up being pretty simple! lol
post #11 of 39
Her position that family 'does that' for each other is ridiculous.
If her husband owned a store...would you be allowed to shop and not pay?
So then your book keeper nephew would do your taxes for free.
Your driving instructor uncle will teach all your kids to drive at no cost and your father-in-law that owns a car dealership will give you all free used cars.
She's nuts.
No cake for her.
What she's really saying is that the family motto is 'we screw each other out of time and money because we are related'.

mommachris

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply
post #12 of 39
I hope no one jumps on me, But I think It depends on how good everyone gets along, My sister spend coutless hour`s sewing curtains for my living room and dinning room, My other sister jar`s tomato sauce every year (hundreds of jars) She never hesitates on dropping off 8 to 10 jars to everyone. The point is there is`t any thing I would`t do for any of my sisters, And they do the same.. But there is always a consideration On all of our part. That when we visit When the person that is visiting leaves, Will call on the phone and say... I left you a 50, or a 100, or a 150, Behined you frame in the living room. And thanks again for what you did for me, I love you. And I understand what people say If your husband owned a store Would anyone expect the stuff free, And NO That`s NOt expected. But, That`s just the way I feel.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommachris

Her position that family 'does that' for each other is ridiculous.
If her husband owned a store...would you be allowed to shop and not pay?
So then your book keeper nephew would do your taxes for free.
Your driving instructor uncle will teach all your kids to drive at no cost and your father-in-law that owns a car dealership will give you all free used cars.
She's nuts.
No cake for her.
What she's really saying is that the family motto is 'we screw each other out of time and money because we are related'.

mommachris

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"Making your special day, a whole lot sweeter!"

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"Making your special day, a whole lot sweeter!"

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post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommynana

I hope no one jumps on me, But I think It depends on how good everyone gets along, My sister spend coutless hour`s sewing curtains for my living room and dinning room, My other sister jar`s tomato sauce every year (hundreds of jars) She never hesitates on dropping off 8 to 10 jars to everyone. The point is there is`t any thing I would`t do for any of my sisters, And they do the same.. But there is always a consideration On all of our part. That when we visit When the person that is visiting leaves, Will call on the phone and say... I left you a 50, or a 100, or a 150, Behined you frame in the living room. And thanks again for what you did for me, I love you. And I understand what people say If your husband owned a store Would anyone expect the stuff free, And NO That`s NOt expected. But, That`s just the way I feel.



There should be no reason for anyone to jump on you for your opinion on this. I completely understand your sentiment as far as your family doing things for each other. While my family isn't exactly the closest family in the world, we always help each other out when the other needs us and we do show our appreciation for that help.

My issue is that this is how I pay my bills. I don't mind throwing a free $50 or even $100 cake to family members because the time issue is fairly minimal for me and I like helping out when someone in the family wants a nice cake but they can't afford it. It becomes a major issue for me when my sis knows she can't afford the kind of cakes that my paying customers get and yet expects me to do one of these for her....at no charge. It's like telling me to my face that you don't appreciate the time, money, effort it takes for me to knock out a really intensive beautiful cake. "We know it takes hours upon hours of your time, supplies, effort and skill to do this cake for us....but we don't care - I'm family so give me free
$500 cakes."

My sister is actually a bookkeeper/accountant - do you think she does my books? She doesn't but she HAS offered to do them.....at the same rate she charges her other customers...lol It all has to do with her perception of what she is entitled to.

The best part is...when me brother-in-law contacted me to do my sis's birthday cake, I told him I would do it if he paid for supplies. I told him that $150 would cover it. He actually asked me if that was enough...lol He has said before that he knows how much effort goes into these cakes and he kept saying how much he appreciated me doing the cake for her on the cheap. As for the cake for his daughter, he has told me he agrees that they should at least pay for supplies....but if he wants to keep his head firmly attached to his body he knows that he isn't able to say anything out loud about this...lmao
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
"This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."

"C'mon....we're talking about cake here, not murder....lol....can we get back to the cake?"
Reply
post #15 of 39
My favorite thing to say is "How much do you get paid per hour for the work you do? It can take up to 12 hours for me to make a wedding cake or sculpted cake. What would you be paid for 12 hours of work?" That usually puts it in perspective for people......but not everyone, lol!

"Making your special day, a whole lot sweeter!"

Reply

"Making your special day, a whole lot sweeter!"

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