am I good enough? - Page 5
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Nothing wrong with wanting something because you love doing it. That is a strength. Take your determination and let it work for you. As long as you are willing to always improve you will find what seems like forever can come together quickly. Be harder on yourself than anyone else. Decorating is always changing - new trends, techniques, new products - The more knowledge you have the more power you have - I suspect you know this at 19. We all just need to be reminded from time to time - even an old lady like me - lol
I would go to craftsy and grab some classes. Sometimes you can get a FANTASTIC class for $20. You will learn so much from these amazing people. I'm learning a ton.
The following is being said by me under the assumption that you are in a cottage industry state and would be doing this from your home, not a store front as THAT is a whole different animal (I thought you had said that somewhere along the line).
As far as what gatorcake has said...I agree and disagree. I absolutely agree that you've got some great potential. Your cakes are pretty neat and clean. Yes, there are a few issues and the degree of difficulty isn't high.
I disagree that you should not be selling. If someone is willing to pay for your cakes (as long as you are not SEVERELY undercutting other local cakers WITH YOUR SKILL LEVEL), then more power to you. Do some research as to what the TOP bakers in your area are selling for and the BOTTOM BAKERS. Honestly compare your skill level and price yourself somewhere in between...you will be making a little money while you are gaining valuable experience. And be honest...if someone says "hey, can you do this?" and it is above your level and you aren't comfortable trying, tell them you are not the baker for them. Better to create what you can and create it WELL, then under-deliver and have people saying your work is crap. This is how you build your customer base.
MOST of us are not born with the skill level of the top cakers in the industry. They worked at it and so must we.
No one should work for free. Apprentices get paid (squat) and when they become Masters, they make a wage commensurate with their skills.
I don't understand why some seem to think people should stay locked in their creative space until they experts? That's like telling people you MUST work at the Walmart bakery while you build your skill. Well, you won't be building your expert skills at Walmart because you will have to crank out a cake in 20 minutes. You will get really good at icing a cake, but they aren't going to teach you how to build your skills to a high-demand, gorgeous cake-maker, style me pretty designer. You have to do that on your own! And how are you going to fund the learning on your own?? By charging for the cakes that you CAN make well. As you get better, you raise your prices.
What IS unnerving (and this is why some of us DO get so upset about the undercutting of competitors' pricing) is when someone that has a VERY high skill set charges Walmart prices. That is unfair to both sides. Why would you WANT to work super hard and not make what the BIG GIRLS (and boys) are making??? Or if your state DOESN'T have cottage industry option, then obviously there is HUGE tension with unlicensed bakers.
Is anyone with me on this, or am I talking crazy!?! I do not own a store front, and if I did, I may have a different perspective. I'm talking cottage industry here. If we didn't have cottage industry, I probably never would have thought to get into decorating. Illegitimate bakers be damned!
- 8 Posts. Joined 1/2013
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You know I read this post and it saddened me....Rachel, here's some advice from someone who didn't get started until later and made plenty of cakes with bulges, frosting issues, melting borders, lopsided fondant etc. I make great money with my cakes and I started from my home kitchen. If cakes make you happy and your customers are happy then I wouldn't worry so much what other people think.....even fellow decorators. And if other decorators are resentful of how you started out, why you started out, whether you work out of a cottage kitchen, whether you are making money or your just a hobbyist, etc. etc. etc. then they have "issues". I personally don't worry about the cake shop down the street or the hobbyist who learned everything from$1000 seminars....whatever...
Learn to trust your own eyes, by being critical of your own work and evaluating where you need to improve. We are usually hardest on ourselves and don't need everyone piling on. I've found that it is best to "eye" your own work and then ask a targeted question from people on CC, such as "how can I prevent my cake from bulging on the side". Then the advice is usually spot on..
And for those CC'rs that are so harsh, I say lighten up...All of you started somewhere. Did any of you happen to notice that she is only 19 yrs. old? She has a dream. I wish I had such talent and a dream when I was just 19.
I say "you go girl"....you are going to do great. Don't be sidetracked by anyone.
- 922 Posts. Joined 3/2010
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Quality has to start somewhere. If customers like what to start out with, then as you improve so will customers. That's the fun part if this skillset. If it doesn't turn out right try try again.
- 260 Posts. Joined 4/2013
- Location: Upstate New York
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But if you don't expect people to hold high standards on a cake site, where would they? Is "good enough that you neighbor will pay $50 for a two tier cake" what should be promoted here? I hope not. Standards are not a dirty word. Quality is not to be scoffed at. In today's world, "good enough" is the way to go, but not for artisans and craftsmen. Those are the people here I aspire to be like. Not ones who take pride in selling crooked cakes and bulging fillings just because someone will buy it.
- 962 Posts. Joined 3/2013
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Thank you bees knees for answering Rachaelcak3s post. It is so difficult to get an actual honest answer from the cc forum group. I too am a home baker, cottage laws apply to me. I've been a cc member for a few months now and when I asked for suggestions. I got the standard " figure it out yourself" response. I believe my cakes taste great!! My decorating skills improve daily. I bake only for friends and family because of the fear that my fellow bakers will be offended that I'm underpricing to gain customers. Good luck and keep practicing your skills.
It's difficult to get an "honest" answer, as you say, because of the backlash that comes from honesty and not just plain flattery. If anyone says something other than "follow your dreams" you are called a dream crusher, a meanie, harsh, bitter, angry, jealous. Pretty much everything anyone who gave advice to wait in this thread was called. Doesn't seem worth it to give advice that will most likely fall on deaf ears. I am a homebaker, I have never taken a class or seminar and most of the decorators on here are the same. HERE is the truth.
It is a hard job and you have to have thick skin. There are a lot of hours and not a lot of pay. It is NOT easy to make enough money to support yourself unless you are turning out something different than the other bakeries/bakers down the road where mediocre is the standard. There is always someone willing to do it cheaper and will stab you in the back at any moment to snatch an order. There are people who will steal your designs, your pictures and your logo and then throw a hissy fit when you ask them to stop. There are clients who will try to take advantage of you with a sob story and turn around and rip you apart to try to get a refund. There are no simple answers to pricing questions because of the amount of variables. Empower yourself. It's a freeing feeling to know you are not relying on the bakery down the street or an online group of people who may or may not have a successful business to tell you what to charge. You may think it's faster, but you'll never understand how to make a profit if you don't know what your costs are. It's also faster for me to tie my 6 year old's shoes, but if I continue to do it for him, he will never learn to tie them himself and will forever be asking someone else for help. I want him to be independent, to know he can accomplish something on his own.
I have a heart for bakers. I don't want to see someone work themselves to the bone for months or years for next to nothing. That's time away from your loved ones, your friends, your kids. It's an exhausting job, mentally, physically, emotionally. And last, I have a heart for my clients. I care enough about the people who order a cake from me to give them a cake with straight sides, no bulges and wrinkled fondant -- those are the basics that are not hard to master. I said before, it does NOT take years to master those skills if you practice. The problem is, people don't want to practice. They don't want to hear, keep working, all they want is empty flattery. They only want to talk about the fun parts of cake, and skip over all the hard parts. That's not fair to the OP or anyone just starting out. You have to go into any business with your eyes wide open. There are enough unseen things that will pop out of nowhere, you have to be ready for the obvious obstacles from the start. And that is the truth.
It's not always about YOU, the baker and YOUR dreams. It's about the person celebrating a life event and wanting to mark it with something special. Have enough respect for that person to not give them something mediocre, they have taken the time to search out something other than the grocery store because they want something better for their loved one or event. People only post pictures on their pages of their 'Best" work and that's what the client expects. If you can't create that "best" cake every time, you are risking disappointing someone. It's not JUST about taste or JUST about looks, it's BOTH. There are threads all the time about disasters and how hurtful it is to the baker. Rarely, does anyone acknowledge the fact it was hurtful to the person who trusted them to give them a good cake, in both look and taste. But instead of being a part of a great celebration, made an unhappy memory for that PERSON. A person with feelings and dreams of their own. Maybe it was a once in a lifetime event, maybe it was the last birthday they celebrated with a loved one, they don't get a do-over. You'll get to make another cake, but they won't get THAT day back.
Here is my best and last advice: Have a heart for your clients and respect them enough to know the basics. Have a heart for bakers and don't tell them to jump into deep water without knowing how to swim. And if you've never dealt with the business side of cake, don't encourage someone else to start before they are prepared. There is a difference between business and hobby but people blur the line and find themselves in a business they were not prepared to start and are ill equipped to manage. They get overwhelmed by orders and deadlines and the quality that wasn't there to start with goes down further because of lack of time management and rushing. There is a thread on here right now about that exact thing. An angry customer slamming a baker on facebook because she ruined her daughter's baby shower. Are you ready for those comments? Are you ready for those situations? If you can't handle a critique of your work by professionals and people who aren't emotionally involved in this situation, how would you deal with that situation?
The reason more an more pros are leaving cake central is exactly the attitude in this thread. Any meaningful advice is twisted into "jealousy" and "rudeness." Beware of flatterers, they usually have their own agenda and are not looking out for you, your time, your money and your feelings. It's not jealousy, it's reality. Until you are prepared to deal with ALL sides of it, don't jump. And for those of you who are mad that pros aren't giving you detailed advice, keep in mind how you and others respond to them. Watch this thread and the many others, usually, it's the professionals who are attacked by people who don't have a clue on the business side of cake. All sorts of names are thrown around and you guys wonder why no one is answering your questions?
rachelcak3s- You don't seem to take constructive criticism too well and will need to work on that. Given your age though, I expect that will eventually change if you truly respect the art and want to be serious about it. Please keep in mind you are particpating in a forum wherein you are seeking advice from seasoned professionals. Some of these people have been competing for years and appeared on tv themselves- they too have been on the other end of constructive criticism- and though it may have stung, they took it and built on it. Moreover, they have spent thousands and thousands of dollars investing in their trade and training.
From everything I read herein, I think the feedback thus far has been very useful. I myself have had a pseudo "cottage cake business" (love that term by the way) since I was 16. I am 40 now. Actually I don't think I can even consider it a business of any kind... to be quite blunt it is a hobby. I often charge what it costs for the material (most of which I keep, i.e. a special pan, or other piece of equipment) and then I may tack on some extra for my time and effort. That said, on average I do about three to four cakes a year... and, yes, I have been thinking about whether I am good enough at this point to go in to business myself; it is something I would very much do if it were in my power, regardless of my skill, and, I too have had numerous people tell me I should do it. But, something was keeping me back, and, after reading this, I know that deep down inside, willing to put pride aside, I can accept alot of what these professionals are saying as absolutely relevant to me as well. Truth be told, I have never had professinal training. I was taught the basics by a little lady named Margeurite who owned the local Carvel Ice Cream store. I am otherwise self taught. Whereas to those I bake for, my cakes are absolutely amazing, I myself can spot the flaws on every single one and when I compare it to others in few cases I might have an equal or better product, but in most, not so much. You have to be willing to accept this too, especially if you will be entering such a competitive market.
Look, no one is attacking you here, and no one is telling you NOT to puruse your dream if that is what this is. They are just answering the question you yourself posed "Am I good enough?" And are even willing to share their own experiences with you which is such a great thing. In any business based on talent, you have to be willing to accept criticism from those more knoweldgable than you, especially when you yourself solicit it.
Don't forget though, its also about believing in yourself as well. I think its great that you are thinking about the future and as many professionals have already said as much, you have some great talent! :) But, I agree with everyone here who has pointed out that if you haven't even explored the business end of your 'dream' you really aren't ready at all. I started looking at it last night myself.. there is so much involved, and so much you need to know... i.e. you need to develop a business plan, and a market analysis of your area just to name a couple of things, most importantly, you need to research your local laws and regulations on private business ownership, you need financing, supplies, ect...
I also think it should be said that in this forum when you say "business" everyone takes that seriously as a legitimate business, complete with tax ID number, lawyers, copyright laws, and the whole shabang - reality is such that charging family and friends to make a cake for their special occasion every now and then is not a legitimate business...
Keep up the good work! I just joined this forum in the past 24 hours but I must say I have learned sooooooo much already... It is a gold mine and a resource that not many dreamers have access to. BUT, when you seek guidance from a community of your peers and professionals therein, know what you are asking for and be ready to accept it all gracefully. You may not always agree with what people say, but, you don't always have to follow it either... just don't get so offended, or discouraged... keep at it! Use what is being given to you.
And please do not take this constructive criticism as offensive either. I am excited for you for what may lie ahead with the right mindset, and impressed that you want to take it serious - I'm just saying don't get so defensive. ;-) You go girl. Good luck!!
And to the forum members and moderators, I can't tell you how personally appreciative I am of your willingness to share your ideas, thoughts, and critiques. Thank you.
- 2,134 Posts. Joined 12/2010
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