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How to encourage fun designs

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am getting tired of everyone one asking for a "simple and elegant cake" you know the kind. plain BC or fondant with a ribbon and a few flowers on top.  B-o-r-I-n-g.  I'd love a challenge.  Something that has some fun textures etc.  I have made display cakes with a ruffle effect, large sugar flower, pleating etc to show I can do it and how fun it can be.  I don't even charge that much for add ons.  But for some reason I am attracting the super budget conscious plain jane-ers. I have done a couple of bridal shows but that's about it other than my website for advertising.  Advertising is just so expensive around here... maybe everywhere.  I have a few connections in the bridal circuit in my area who say they exclusively refer to me.  I am also getting tired of people asking for just a two tier cake because they have all these other deserts etc.  Where are the 4,5 or 6 tier cake people?!?  Can someone tell me where this "lets cheap out on the cake" mentality has come from?! There are other decorators in my area that seem to get some really cool designs but alas... I seem to get the more plain designs.  I even try to suggest fun elements to their cakes and they just look at me with blank stares and say... I really just want something simple... seriously?!? Another thing that drives me bananas.... "I don't want fondant... its gross"  and then they show me a pic of a fondant cake and ask if I can make it with buttercream. ugh?!?

 

Thanks for reading my rant...

post #2 of 22

I'm new to this...I was reading your post and one thing that always gets me...everyone has a different definition of "simple" and "elegant." It's like your definition of "normal" and my definition of "normal"-they may be close but not quite the same. I saw a five tier wedding cake online that-in my mind-was very elegant (my mother saw it and thought it was gaudy) and if I ever make a wedding cake this might be a goal for me to work toward...but if I ever get married, it might not be something that I personally would want as I want a small wedding. I think it just depends on who you are dealing with and what their situation is.

post #3 of 22
Who specifically are you targeting? If your only exposure is your web site and bridal shows you aren't really narrowing down your target customer (beyond people who go to bridal shows, which may skew more conservative). To expand your reach you need to find the communities where there is an overlap between people who are looking to take creative risks and people who can afford to spend the money on a high quality cake. Once you've identified these communities, hit them with targeted online ads and collaborate with local businesses in their area.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

The area I am in has a little bit of everything. There are people here with a TON of money but majority of people are about average to low income.  The cost of living to income is pretty high.  However... Our area is big for destination weddings.  Of course I would like to target these brides and I have tried with my website.  I have gone to a few of the nicer venues to try to drum up some business/connections.  I get a ton of inquiries on facebook but find that most of those are dead ends... these are the "I just want a small cake for me and I am going to serve my guests grocery store crap cake" type... ugh... I try to avoid those because I don't want my name attached to walmart cake.  we have a wedding café here and I have considered doing some advertising there.  They charge about $300 per month to have a 12x12 ad on display on their wall.  I am not sure if this will pay off or not.  I am a relatively small operation.  I usually only do 3 weddings per weekend (a couple of weekends I have 5 this summer).  I am trying to keep operating costs low for now while I am keeping things small.  I hope to grow significantly in a couple of years when both my kiddo's go to school.  (The hope and dream is a store front shop - there isn't one in my area right now... fingers crossed it stays that way while I am busy with other commitments.)

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kvand View Post

The area I am in has a little bit of everything. There are people here with a TON of money but majority of people are about average to low income.  The cost of living to income is pretty high.  However... Our area is big for destination weddings.  Of course I would like to target these brides and I have tried with my website.  I have gone to a few of the nicer venues to try to drum up some business/connections.  I get a ton of inquiries on facebook but find that most of those are dead ends... these are the "I just want a small cake for me and I am going to serve my guests grocery store crap cake" type... ugh... I try to avoid those because I don't want my name attached to walmart cake.  we have a wedding café here and I have considered doing some advertising there.  They charge about $300 per month to have a 12x12 ad on display on their wall.  I am not sure if this will pay off or not.  I am a relatively small operation.  I usually only do 3 weddings per weekend (a couple of weekends I have 5 this summer).  I am trying to keep operating costs low for now while I am keeping things small.  I hope to grow significantly in a couple of years when both my kiddo's go to school.  (The hope and dream is a store front shop - there isn't one in my area right now... fingers crossed it stays that way while I am busy with other commitments.)

 

I just wanted to say best of luck to you.

post #6 of 22

 Another thing that drives me bananas.... "I don't want fondant... its gross"  and then they show me a pic of a fondant cake and ask if I can make it with buttercream. ugh?!?

 

Thanks for reading my rant...

This drives me crazy too. It seems no one that wants a cake from me wants fondant but they all want cakes that  have fondant all over them. Their are some techniques that just don't have the same look to them when done with buttercream. I had someone ask me whether it was difficult to do when I delivered her cake. I was honest with her and told her since she wanted whipped icing and not the fondant in the picture it was hard to get it to look like that. I put some fondant toppers on the cupcakes just so she could try what mine tasted like. 

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by bct806 View Post

This drives me crazy too. It seems no one that wants a cake from me wants fondant but they all want cakes that  have fondant all over them. Their are some techniques that just don't have the same look to them when done with buttercream. I had someone ask me whether it was difficult to do when I delivered her cake. I was honest with her and told her since she wanted whipped icing and not the fondant in the picture it was hard to get it to look like that. I put some fondant toppers on the cupcakes just so she could try what mine tasted like. 

I think sometimes people don't understand that the fondant is what makes it have a really smooth, "polished" look (for lack of a better term), in my mind. It just makes it look prettier. I'm thinking that one thing I may do is an approach like this-let them see what it looks like with fondant and without and let them decide. The cupcakes would be a good way to demonstrate it. "This is what it looks like without the fondant...now this cupcake has fondant. See the difference?"

post #8 of 22

It could also be that many people either don't like the taste of fondant or have heard of others not liking the taste, so they're afraid to bite the bullet, so to speak.
 

post #9 of 22

Well for years I would have to bring overly extravagant brides down to the real world, that was back in the day of 8 tiers, pillars, stairways, fountains etc.  For many years it has only been stacked, iced so smooth it looks like fondant (very few want fondant for the extra cost in my neck of the woods) and then decorated with simple flowers, sometimes fondant leaves or the florist makes bouquets for the top and sides, ribbons, etc.

 

I have heard from quite a few brides, "The cake isn't important, it never gets eaten, it's a waste of money, I don't like cake, the cake is the least important thing in the wedding....."  My head is going to explode!  I have tried to explain that yes, bad cake is a waste of money that doesn't get eaten.  People who start drinking alcohol on the morning of the wedding usually don't want cake by the evening, and cake haters more than likely love my cake, "buttercream is too sweet" people usually love my icing.

 

I'm preaching to the choir!  The last girl I spoke with really ticked me off, going on and on about how wasteful the cake was, how silly and stupid it was for the bride and groom to shove cake in their faces, etc.  I finally told her, "I'm sorry you don't think cake is important, but I will think that your wedding cake is very important."  Didn't get that order.

 

I'm just too old for this.

Always put your eggs in one basket.......why do you want to carry two?
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Always put your eggs in one basket.......why do you want to carry two?
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post #10 of 22

I'll tell you how to get more interesting designs...Start complaining about how many boring pearls and swirls cakes you have to do, then realize that you can do those in your sleep but people still pay money for them, then get happy that when you get a few of those you'll be done faster, then start wanting to have a lot of them so that you'll have more time off. As soon as you embrace the pearls and swirls those orders will dry up and you'll start getting lots of "creative" cakes that take more time and make you work longer hours. At least that's what happened to me this year.icon_rolleyes.gif

 

Things go in cycles...I think that people were doing plainer cakes last year because they think they're cheaper, but I've hardly done one of them in the last three months. All I know is that when I have three pearls and swirls cakes I will have time to take a nap that day. When I don't, I won't. I like naps.

post #11 of 22

I'm like costumeczar - I have learned over the years to appreciate the simple cakes as they are a fast ticket to $$. You can do more of them in less time.

 

Once you start being creative and adding first-time-ever design elements to your designs, you are upping your stress level, upping your time spent on a specific cake and turning away other cakes because of the extra time and effort you will be spending on your 'special' designer cake.

 

Look, I DO understand where you are coming from... Seriously, I actually would proabably prefer to do one interesting cake a week than 5 plain janes, but it comes down to how much you rely on your caking income to live. The interesting cakes will make for good portfolio/website pictures and let people know what you are capable of. But if you need turnover, you probably should be careful what you wish for!

 

One thing I did when I was a younger cake decorator, was I would do a particular decor I'd never tried before for free. So, the client was not out of pocket to opt for a handpainted tier, or piped details in RI etc. This gives the client a sense of getting something exclusive and also saving money. I don't do it anymore, and now I can charge what I want for these additional details.

Life's too short to make cake pops.
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www.sweetperfectioncakes.blogspot.com.au/
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Life's too short to make cake pops.
___________________________________
www.sweetperfection.com.au

www.sweetperfectioncakes.blogspot.com.au/
www.facebook.com/sweetperfectioncakes (come visit sometime!)

Reply
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by embersmom View Post

It could also be that many people either don't like the taste of fondant or have heard of others not liking the taste, so they're afraid to bite the bullet, so to speak.
 

Very true ;) Personally, I was always taught to try new foods...it makes life interesting!

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir View Post

I'm like costumeczar - I have learned over the years to appreciate the simple cakes as they are a fast ticket to $$. You can do more of them in less time.

 

Once you start being creative and adding first-time-ever design elements to your designs, you are upping your stress level, upping your time spent on a specific cake and turning away other cakes because of the extra time and effort you will be spending on your 'special' designer cake.

 

Look, I DO understand where you are coming from... Seriously, I actually would proabably prefer to do one interesting cake a week than 5 plain janes, but it comes down to how much you rely on your caking income to live. The interesting cakes will make for good portfolio/website pictures and let people know what you are capable of. But if you need turnover, you probably should be careful what you wish for!

 

One thing I did when I was a younger cake decorator, was I would do a particular decor I'd never tried before for free. So, the client was not out of pocket to opt for a handpainted tier, or piped details in RI etc. This gives the client a sense of getting something exclusive and also saving money. I don't do it anymore, and now I can charge what I want for these additional details.

 

This is why I vent to you wonderful people... helping me see the positive in the boring.:)  I like your idea of offering a new design element I want to try for free or reduced... I'll definitely think about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir View Post

I'm like costumeczar - I have learned over the years to appreciate the simple cakes as they are a fast ticket to $$. You can do more of them in less time.

 

Once you start being creative and adding first-time-ever design elements to your designs, you are upping your stress level, upping your time spent on a specific cake and turning away other cakes because of the extra time and effort you will be spending on your 'special' designer cake.

 

Look, I DO understand where you are coming from... Seriously, I actually would proabably prefer to do one interesting cake a week than 5 plain janes, but it comes down to how much you rely on your caking income to live. The interesting cakes will make for good portfolio/website pictures and let people know what you are capable of. But if you need turnover, you probably should be careful what you wish for!

 

One thing I did when I was a younger cake decorator, was I would do a particular decor I'd never tried before for free. So, the client was not out of pocket to opt for a handpainted tier, or piped details in RI etc. This gives the client a sense of getting something exclusive and also saving money. I don't do it anymore, and now I can charge what I want for these additional details.

This is a good perspective.. thank you... I guess I should be thankful for the easy money :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker_Rose View Post

Well for years I would have to bring overly extravagant brides down to the real world, that was back in the day of 8 tiers, pillars, stairways, fountains etc.  For many years it has only been stacked, iced so smooth it looks like fondant (very few want fondant for the extra cost in my neck of the woods) and then decorated with simple flowers, sometimes fondant leaves or the florist makes bouquets for the top and sides, ribbons, etc.

 

I have heard from quite a few brides, "The cake isn't important, it never gets eaten, it's a waste of money, I don't like cake, the cake is the least important thing in the wedding....."  My head is going to explode!  I have tried to explain that yes, bad cake is a waste of money that doesn't get eaten.  People who start drinking alcohol on the morning of the wedding usually don't want cake by the evening, and cake haters more than likely love my cake, "buttercream is too sweet" people usually love my icing.

 

I'm preaching to the choir!  The last girl I spoke with really ticked me off, going on and on about how wasteful the cake was, how silly and stupid it was for the bride and groom to shove cake in their faces, etc.  I finally told her, "I'm sorry you don't think cake is important, but I will think that your wedding cake is very important."  Didn't get that order.

 

I'm just too old for this.

it drives me bananas when people say its not important!!  some people have no filter! if you don't think a cake is important that's ok you are entitled to your opinion but don't tell the baker about it!!

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kvand View Post

This is why I vent to you wonderful people... helping me see the positive in the boring.icon_smile.gif  I like your idea of offering a new design element I want to try for free or reduced... I'll definitely think about that.
This is a good perspective.. thank you... I guess I should be thankful for the easy money icon_smile.gif

it drives me bananas when people say its not important!!  some people have no filter! if you don't think a cake is important that's ok you are entitled to your opinion but don't tell the baker about it!!

The "I'm here to be creative" thing is nice,but I'm here to run a business, and a business needs a profit, and profits come with making money efficiently. Plain designs are great if they pay the same and take less time. If I want to be creative I'll go do something else for my own enjoyment.

Here's another way to look at the "the cake isn't important" attitude...Good, because that customer is far less likely to complain that you ruined her wedding because the color of the ribbon on the tiers wasn't exactly the right shade of puce! icon_smile.gif
post #15 of 22
Quote:

Their are some techniques that just don't have the same look to them when done with buttercream. I had someone ask me whether it was difficult to do when I delivered her cake. I was honest with her and told her since she wanted whipped icing and not the fondant in the picture it was hard to get it to look like that.

 

To be honest, this is your own fault. When somone tells me they want a specific design that is fondant based, I don't give them the option of having it in buttercream.  I am not going to cause myself extra time, difficulty, and stress because they want it to look just like fondant but be buttercream.

 

I will carefully explain that the design they want is a fondant design and if they want buttercream frosting, then here are some suggestions that might be a similar look. Most of the time they say, "Oh, I didn't realize that they could only be done with fondant, we'll just do the fondant then."  I've never had any complaints after the fact and they are happier because the cake looks just like they wanted it to. 

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