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Ruffled and Pinched Fondant How do I?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone! My hobby of cake decorating is taking off! 

 

I've been approached by referral for her daughter's 2nd birthday! 

 

These are the cakes she wants me to do.  

 

 

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And...

 

 

 

 1380488_436488716471971_1280079887_n.jpg?oh=951e27468a127b385fcaf055b87fcb87&oe=52523C60 

 

 

 

 

The Barbie cake is no problem. The ruffles and the pinched fondant on the tired cake is what I'm worried about it. Also, the medallion like thing that the Barbie silhouette is laying on, what can I use for that? 

 

 

Thanks guys! You all are a MAJOR help! :)

post #2 of 23
Are you meeting any legal requirements your city/state may impose on food businesses? Even if it's 'just a hobby' most places still have rules that come into play once money changes hands.

The fondant ruffles you can easily find a tutorial for online. The medallion is a scalloped edge round cutter with little holes cut using the narrow end of an icing tip.
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post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle View Post

Are you meeting any legal requirements your city/state may impose on food businesses? Even if it's 'just a hobby' most places still have rules that come into play once money changes hands.

The fondant ruffles you can easily find a tutorial for online. The medallion is a scalloped edge round cutter with little holes cut using the narrow end of an icing tip.

 

 

I am, by no means, doing this illegally. I've checked everything in my state to make sure I was doing it correctly, paperwork, wise. I don't advertise. I do it by 'word of mouth' only. I want to deliver my customers a quality service all while doing it legally.

 

Thank you for the suggestions, they're greatly appreciated.

post #4 of 23
I didn't mean to imply you were doing anything illegally, it's just that when you say your hobby is taking off, well we get a lot of bakers here who think that hobby = outside of the law!

Congrats on the growth of your business, I'm sure you're going to do a great job on both cakes.
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post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle View Post

I didn't mean to imply you were doing anything illegally, it's just that when you say your hobby is taking off, well we get a lot of bakers here who think that hobby = outside of the law!

Congrats on the growth of your business, I'm sure you're going to do a great job on both cakes.

I know exactly what you mean. I didn't mean to come off as rude or anything. It is a 'hobby' but I do have a full-time job to worry about as well. I give kudos to those who make this their full-time job!

I'm still new to everything but am learning as I go and I'm thrilled to know I can turn to this site for help, and partially YouTube.

I really think I'm demeaning my work by charging people under the value it should? Sometimes I believe that I'm not charging enough for my hard work.

Though, my word of mouth is that I do the cakes for those who are on a lower budget so they are able to afford $500 to thousands of dollars cake.

I'm utterly puzzled.
post #6 of 23

That's OK, I have accidentally upset a couple of people before, by coming across as accusatory when it wasn't my intention. 

 

Here's the thing about undercharging for your cakes. You will work yourself into the ground making absolutely zero profit, and then when you finally come around to realizing that you're undercharging you've built up a client base that has no intention of paying you more. 

 

Yes you will lose orders from people who want to pay 50c a serving, but those are not your customers. A job where you won't make any money isn't a job you want. 

 

You have to figure out how to reach the customers who are willing to pay what your cakes are worth. If you want to keep it strictly to word of mouth, then you need to let your current clients know that they are currently getting a discounted cake from you (if you don't feel you can raise your prices for friends etc). You can do that by putting the real price on the invoice and adding a discount line, but you will have to make sure to tell them that they can't tell others what they paid you. 

 

If your friends/family just don't know people who can afford custom cake (nobody I know can), then you really will have to start branching out. 

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post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle View Post

That's OK, I have accidentally upset a couple of people before, by coming across as accusatory when it wasn't my intention. 

Here's the thing about undercharging for your cakes. You will work yourself into the ground making absolutely zero profit, and then when you finally come around to realizing that you're undercharging you've built up a client base that has no intention of paying you more. 

Yes you will lose orders from people who want to pay 50c a serving, but those are not your customers. A job where you won't make any money isn't a job you want. 

You have to figure out how to reach the customers who are willing to pay what your cakes are worth. If you want to keep it strictly to word of mouth, then you need to let your current clients know that they are currently getting a discounted cake from you (if you don't feel you can raise your prices for friends etc). You can do that by putting the real price on the invoice and adding a discount line, but you will have to make sure to tell them that they can't tell others what they paid you. 

If your friends/family just don't know people who can afford custom cake (nobody I know can), then you really will have to start branching out. 


I for one believe you are exceptionally helpful, so thank you!

That is a great idea. I might as well have to sit down and figure that out.

For the Barbie cake(dress) alone I charged $35. I normally charge around $50 for two tiered cakes but it always depends on the details and such that they'd like to incorporate in for a personal touch.

So I told the customer that her total would be $75 for BOTH cakes.

The woman did come to me for a cake that had mass amounts of details and wanted the cake on a Friday evening, for which I could not do. As a cake decorator, I want my work to be priceless and great quality, as do all decorators. It is my job to tell the clientele what I can and cannot do in a limited time frame.

I showed her the Vintage Barbie cake, pictures above, and she fell in love with it. I know I'll be able to get that done as well as the Barbie dress cake to her on the Friday that she's requested.
post #8 of 23
Kiki is right about losing your customer base...

Pricing is something many people struggle with! Especially in the beginning, if anything you are undercharging. As you said you want people to value your work so you need to make sure you value it (and all the time you put into it) as well.

Jason Kraft has a great blog with pricing and marketing tips, there are also some pricing matrix' on CC. I think the most important thing people don't realize is even if baking from home you still have overhead-even though you're not renting a commercial space. You don't want your hobby to turn into a money drain.

Take some time to figure out how much your recipes cost, figure in your supplies (cakeboards, boxes, internal supports, etc.), shopping, cleaning, prep, baking...and that's before you've even started decorating. Time yourself for making ruffles on an 8" cake, for example write it down in a book or spreadsheet. It takes time but eventually you'll be able to look at a design and have an idea of how long it will take and charge accordingly. I still under quote from time to time and kick myself for it later icon_wink.gif

I charge per slice (carved cakes cost more) then add on for details (time x $hourly wage). There's nothing wrong with asking someone how much their budget is, it's one of my first questions, and we go from there. Someone in a previous thread mentioned the Good, Better, Best (something like that) 'system' which I've started doing with all my cakes. After I speak with my client I'll make three different sketches; Good $150, Better $250, Best $350-400 almost every time they choose from the last two and we go from there.

Again, as Kiki stated, not everyone can afford a custom cake (I can't lol) but now they are all over the tv/media so everyone wants them but not everyone realizes how much work actually goes into creating a truly unique, customized cake. So if I give someone a quote and they say well so and so will make it for less then $1/2 per slice I simply say, "Enjoy your event, hopefully we can work together some other time," even though I know that's NOT the type of customer I want! They obviously came back to me because they like my work but I won't say, "ok, you win, I'll make your four tiered cake for $150".

Be firm with your prices and enjoy what you're doing, it takes time to build a good customer base with regulars. So sorry, that's my long rant for the day icon_smile.gif
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smckinney07 View Post

Kiki is right about losing your customer base...

Pricing is something many people struggle with! Especially in the beginning, if anything you are undercharging. As you said you want people to value your work so you need to make sure you value it (and all the time you put into it) as well.

Jason Kraft has a great blog with pricing and marketing tips, there are also some pricing matrix' on CC. I think the most important thing people don't realize is even if baking from home you still have overhead-even though you're not renting a commercial space. You don't want your hobby to turn into a money drain.

Take some time to figure out how much your recipes cost, figure in your supplies (cakeboards, boxes, internal supports, etc.), shopping, cleaning, prep, baking...and that's before you've even started decorating. Time yourself for making ruffles on an 8" cake, for example write it down in a book or spreadsheet. It takes time but eventually you'll be able to look at a design and have an idea of how long it will take and charge accordingly. I still under quote from time to time and kick myself for it later icon_wink.gif

I charge per slice (carved cakes cost more) then add on for details (time x $hourly wage). There's nothing wrong with asking someone how much their budget is, it's one of my first questions, and we go from there. Someone in a previous thread mentioned the Good, Better, Best (something like that) 'system' which I've started doing with all my cakes. After I speak with my client I'll make three different sketches; Good $150, Better $250, Best $350-400 almost every time they choose from the last two and we go from there.

Again, as Kiki stated, not everyone can afford a custom cake (I can't lol) but now they are all over the tv/media so everyone wants them but not everyone realizes how much work actually goes into creating a truly unique, customized cake. So if I give someone a quote and they say well so and so will make it for less then $1/2 per slice I simply say, "Enjoy your event, hopefully we can work together some other time," even though I know that's NOT the type of customer I want! They obviously came back to me because they like my work but I won't say, "ok, you win, I'll make your four tiered cake for $150".

Be firm with your prices and enjoy what you're doing, it takes time to build a good customer base with regulars. So sorry, that's my long rant for the day icon_smile.gif

 

You took the words right out of my mouth!!

 

The client had told me that the previous baker she got a quote from for the VERY detailed cake she wanted first was going to cost her a whopping $275. That is more than my car payment! As I mentioned above, I just could not deliver that cake with that many details on the day she wanted, especially when I was going to charge her around $100 for it. 

 

I believe the Good, Better, Best system is a fabulous idea and one I will further look into. 

 

Thank you so much for input! :) 

post #10 of 23
$75 is very inexpensive for a two tiered cake! I meant to add that as well.

Yes, $100, I am glad you didn't break your back for that cake! I also add a rush charge if it's last minute.

Another idea, make sure you check out the local bakery/custom cakerys in your area and their prices (not Walmart, Kroger, etc.) you don't want to base your prices off someone elses but you don't want to charge less or 'undercut' another bakery it's a bit of a disservice to others (in my humble opinion). Does that make sense?

I also use a lot of cake dummies for practicing new techniques (you can decorate, take a picture, tear off the fondant and redecorate to help build your portfolio).
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smckinney07 View Post

$75 is very inexpensive for a two tiered cake! I meant to add that as well.

Yes, $100, I am glad you didn't break your back for that cake! I also add a rush charge if it's last minute.

Another idea, make sure you check out the local bakery/custom cakerys in your area and their prices (not Walmart, Kroger, etc.) you don't want to base your prices off someone elses but you don't want to charge less or 'undercut' another bakery it's a bit of a disservice to others (in my humble opinion). Does that make sense?

I also use a lot of cake dummies for practicing new techniques (you can decorate, take a picture, tear off the fondant and redecorate to help build your portfolio).

 

 

I guess we can only learn from our very inexpensive mistakes! :grin:

 

It is last minute! I have checked others and they are about $50 more than my base price. So I'm not loosing any money but am making little profit. 

 

I also  have practiced on cake dummies! I love them. They're my best friend. Here is one of my first ones I did. 

 

 

 

Disregard my back splash that was getting a makeover at the time, and the paper towels. :P 

post #12 of 23
Your cake is cute!

If it helps, my car payment is $550 (don't ask). Maybe you won't feel so bad charging a fair price knowing that it's less than someone else's car payment even if it's more than yours!

A fair price means fair to both sides. Paying yourself $1 an hour is not fair. You deserve to make an appropriate hourly wage for your skill. I don't think the guy that sold me my car could afford my payment (neither can I!), but he still sold it to me. You have to get out of the mindset of thinking your cakes should be at prices you'd pay.

Most of the pros here start at $3-5 a serving, more for fondant, and go to $20 a serving and more. If you are having a hard time working out your costs and time, start there. As you get more orders you can get more of a feel for what your costs and time really are and adjust appropriately.
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post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thank you! 

 

I know I'll get the hang of it sooner or later. Preferably sooner. 

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by amateurembaker View Post


Though, my word of mouth is that I do the cakes for those who are on a lower budget so they are able to afford $500 to thousands of dollars cake.

I'm utterly puzzled.

I'm sorry, could you clarify that?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amateurembaker View Post
 

 

You took the words right out of my mouth!!

 

The client had told me that the previous baker she got a quote from for the VERY detailed cake she wanted first was going to cost her a whopping $275. That is more than my car payment! As I mentioned above, I just could not deliver that cake with that many details on the day she wanted, especially when I was going to charge her around $100 for it. 

 

I believe the Good, Better, Best system is a fabulous idea and one I will further look into. 

 

Thank you so much for input! :) 

 

Kiki is doing a good job of putting this in perspective and I would just add that people who can easily afford high end custom cakes probably can't even imagine a car payment as low as $275. Plenty of people have car payments over $1,000 or just pay cash for their $40,000 to $60,000+ car.  $500 for a birthday cake is not a huge expenditure - they're paying three times that for a pair of shoes.

 

(By "people who can afford", I just mean people who aren't splurging.)

 

The market is full of people who want to get these cakes at half their value and less. I recommend not letting yourself be their prey and you can try to avoid them, run or turn and fight depending on the situation. But don't be their victim. :D That may all sound rather dramatic, but it won't after you've stayed up until 3 working your tail off for very little pay a couple of times.

post #15 of 23

Howsweet...I took it as that's what the word on the street is. And it looks like they are right if you are charging $100 for what another baker was going to charge $275 for. Highly detailed work deserves that kind of pay. You can't be paying yourself a decent hourly wage if you are undercutting by that much. Profit isn't anything over ingredients cost. It is what is leftover when you have been paid for time, ingredients, materials such as boxes, cake rounds, dowels, utilities, etc...

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