When I first got started, I made a lot of practice cakes. These practice cakes were always given away to family members as freebies. Eventually, I was asked to make a congratulatory cake for my niece. It was a simple chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, shell border, some writing, and a few buttercream roses. My father in law offered to pay to cover my ingredients and I accepted. I donated my time as part of her gift. No complains, only rave reviews on my cake.
A few months later, my husband and his brothers enrolled in a pistol safety class. After the class, they decided to get their instructor a "thank you" gift...in the form of a cake. Because the instructor is of Italian-descent, they wanted me to make a cannoli cake (I make excellent cannoli filling if I may boast!) complete with firearm decorations. Someone suggested I sculpt a gun and some bullets for the decorations. I figured out my cost, sice mascarpone and ricotta are expensive, and concluded that $75 for a 10" round cake, filled with cannoli filling, covered in a mascarpone buttercream and chocolate chips with handsculpted fondant decorations was MORE than reasonable. I made a lifesized glock, some bullets, and a shooting target for the top of the cake, spent an entire Saturday working on it in the summer heat, and spent around $45 for the cake ingredients alone. $75 for such a cake was highway robbery in my eyes, especially since each brother and my husband would pay me $25 each for a custom creation. The brothers gave me cash for the cake, I delivered the cake to the instructor, and gained returning business (woo!). I didn't think anything else about the cake....until the rumors....
I had 2 family members place cake orders with me and drop out last minute with no explanation why. Eventually, the rumors caught up to me -- I overcharge for my products! Apparently, the brothers thought I robbed them blind with the cake, and told other family members that I wasn't worth the money. The one brother complained that I wasted his money and he never saw an invoice - surely I was inflating the cost of my materials. I asked him if he was interested in seeing my receipts, which he was. I made a detailed list of my cost (including how much each egg was that went into the cake), the cakeboard, the box, the gas I spent going to the store, and so on. When I tallied eveything up, I ended up working for a QUARTER an hour! Trust me, I am dsgusted in myself for charging so little, I was shocked when I was accused of charging too much.
The whole situation spiraled out of control. I was accused of being passive-aggressive by creating the invoice (even though I was asked to supply one) and that I was trying to scam the family out of money for my own, nefarious purposes. That was the first cake I ever charged anyone in the family, and everyone was more than happy to pay when we sealed the deal. I figure the business I lost wasn't worth my time, either, so no harm done. But one cake and $75 later, I became a huge, money grubbing, no talent witch who should be giving cakes away (yes, they said this to me!) because it is unfair to charge people for cakes, especially family members. My husband and I are now shunned from the family for being greedy and trying to steal from our family. Who knew that ONE CAKE would have such disasterous results? Lesson learned; never, ever bake for family!!!