Unique Pricing Situation- Please Help!

Business By soygurl Updated 3 Jan 2006 , 10:54pm by soygurl

soygurl Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 11:29am
post #1 of 44

Hey all!

First a little background (please bare with me!):
I'm a college student. I don't really have a "buisines" specifically, not licensed or anything but I have put up a few craigslist adds (I know, I know, I shouldn't advertize, but oh well, I haven't gotten many responses anyway).
Anyway, I saw someone ELSE'S add on craigslist (at a time when I didn't have an add up) looking for bakers to do low cost wedding cakes. I contacted this lady and found out she wants several (3 or 4) cake decoraters who are looking to build up their portfolios and get experince to do a bunch of mini wedding cakes for centerpieces at her wedding reception. Spicifically she wants mini 3 teir cakes (about 6"4"2"). 35 of them total. We had a meeting to discus details and she explained that she wanted to do this for cost (plus a tip, and free advertizing to ~350 people at the wedding; buisiness cards out, etc.)
SO.... my question is this: How much do you think is a reasonable cost estimation? I don't have all the supplies (pans, etc.) but I have most of it. I think I could handel doing 10 of these mini cakes, and I'm estimating the ingredients cost at around $80 or so. Plus a few small cake pans (I have 4" so I need 2-6" and a mufin pan for the 2"), cake boards, dowels, boxes for transport, and I still don't have a turetable. So I'm wondering what y'all think is a reasonable estimated quote? She said the baker she talked to before me had quoted a little higher that she wanted, but she didn't tell me the price.
For the few wedding cakes I've done, I've charged $3-$6 per slice (I live in a big city and this is quite cheep). She wants each mini cake to feed about 10 people (but still be the sizes she requested), and she also wants some of the cake to be fondant. Sorry this is so long, but I'd really appreciate any imput! Thanks!

43 replies
dodibug Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 11:36am
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You can use this pricing matrix to help you calculate your actual costs. It's a pretty cool tool and you can change the numbers to match prices in your area:


As for your turntable, I bought a $10 on at Wal-mart and had it for five years and it was still fine. You can't really factor the price of the pans into this but everything else is fair game-boards, dowels, fondant, etc.

I have heard of more people doing their weddings like this, thru "sponsorship" kind of like Star Jones just did.

soygurl Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 11:54am
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Thanks! I'll check out that pricing matrix thing!
Anyone else?

cande Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:01pm
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I would be very careful... you aren't licensed but you are going to do a sponsored wedding, which is all about creating a free or as close to free as possible wedding in exchange for ADVERTISING...I think you are opening yourself up to a lot of unwanted attention from 350+ people you (presumably) don't know.

Also, be sure to check the rules of the bride's venue before you start. A lot of places (especially in Metro areas) have strict rules concernig who may bring food onto their premises. Many that do allow outside vendors, require that they be licensed and provide a copy to file.

I don't know how strict the laws are in your area, but it seems that the laws on the coasts are a lot tougher than the laws elsewhere, from what I've gathered reading these boards.

Sorry I can't help you with the pricing, I just wanted to suggest that maybe you rethink doing the wedding, or at least inform yourself of the possible consequences of doing it (maybe you already have, I don't know. I'm just trying to help.)
Good luck, I hope your situation works ot well.

(I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just trying to help. I don't want this post to be taken the wrong way thumbs_up.gif )

soygurl Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:07pm
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Thanks for your concern! I really do appreciate it, though, I'm really not too woried about this situation... still you brought up a few good points I hadn't thought about...

lotsoftots Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:11pm
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Personally, I would not accept this "job" offer. I think these sponsored weddings are beyond tacky, and I don't think you'd drum up more business--unless it's another tacky bride having another tacky sponsored wedding, wanting you to do cakes at cost. If I were a guest at this wedding, I would NEVER hire anyone involved with this mass marketing approach. I would be insulted, that as an INVITED GUEST that I would be subject to advertising. I'm sorry, it's how I feel--I don't care how many people are doing it nowadays. No class whatsoever. Oy!

dodibug Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:23pm
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Thanks, lotoftots-i thought I was the only one who just didn't like the sponsored wedding thing. It's along the same lines as a cash bar at a reception. We couldn't afford an open bar at our reception so we were just weren't going to have anything but beer and wine-what we could afford! I understand wanting a big to-do-I would have loved to had that but since my dh was in school and I was the only one working that just wasn't goona happen!! icon_lol.gif
cande does bring up some good points. I'm more of a fly under the radar person so I don't think I would want to open myself up either!

soygurl Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:35pm
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Just to clarify... I really hate the "sponsored wedding" thing too, and the advertizing isn't why I am interested in this... She is giving almost full discresion of decorating and disigning to me and I need/want the esperince and portfolio pics... Maybe thats a bad reason to do it, but I don't get many chances to make cakes; especially really utique ones that I love.

dodibug Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:45pm
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Oh, we weren't down on you!!! You'll notice these topics sometimes take at twist and it's not directed at the person who started it necessarily!! It all comes down to if you are feeling comfortable with the situation and feel like it will benefit you. That's the important thing! Can't wait to see the pictures!!!

soygurl Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:48pm
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Oh, don't worry! I wasn't taking it personaly or anything... acctually agreeing with you (or trying to, lol, didn't really come out that way. Too tired I gues!).

Doug Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 12:49pm
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how about a compromise:

do the cakes (get experience, build portfolio)


don't advertise at wedding (no biz cards, etc.)

makes your cakes so special there's a "buzz" about them

and then let word of mouth ...force that bride to give "props" where they're due to you just like at a normal (non-tacky) wedding.

soygurl Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 1:03pm
post #12 of 44

Huh! That's an idea! I never really liked the advertizing part anyway becaue I'll be moving out of the area a few months later anyway. Plus the face I don't acctually HAVE any business cards right now, lol.
I really don't know if she'll even WANT me to do her cakes though... the cost thing is really bugging me. It wouldn't be much of a problem if I wasn't so poor..l. College is killing me, lol! It would be easier if I already had all the equipment, but... idk, the idea of being able to do so many unique and fun cakes is just entrancing to me!

slejdick Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 3:12pm
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I can't help you on most of your questions, but as an alternative to spending a lot of money on small cake pans, you could buy one of each size you need and then make foil pans to use in baking.

I did this once when I needed to bake three 6 inch cakes at once and only had two pans. Take a couple of layers of heavy duty foil, mold them over the outside of your pan, then take a strip of foil to wrap around the edge (the side of the pan) and fold the corners of the foil back down to make the edge of the pan nice and stiff. Just sit them on a cookie sheet when you bake.

You can make as many as you need for the cost of one of each size and a roll of foil, much cheaper than buying lots of pans (and you don't have to store them afterwards and move them when you move!)

Also, if you have a thrift store or goodwill nearby, check there for turntables. I found a Wilton one for 45 cents a few years ago, but there are almost always a couple of turntables of some sort for a dollar or so when I'm there.


snowboarder Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 4:57pm
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I think Doug's idea is great.

And Laura- I love your foil pans idea. Have you done any foil pans bigger than a 6"? I just wonder how large you could go with that.

BalloonWhisk Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 5:12pm
post #15 of 44

Why on earth would you donate your time to someone you don't know?

If you want to have pics of sample cakes, make some MMF and make mini cakes with your 4" pan and a tunafish can. Photograph them. If a box of cake mix and a bag of marshmellows costs too much, offer to bake for ingredient cost for your friends' birthdays or parties. (In other words, donate like Greedy Bride wants, but to people who know you.)

Or else have your cost include the cost of your time and your equipment.

Being one of half a dozen suckers to donate work to this wedding isn't going to get you word of mouth.

slejdick Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 5:25pm
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I haven't done larger than the six inch pan, only because I've never needed to, LOL!

If you put a good band around the side it's pretty sturdy, and I think that should make it strong enough to go larger, though.

You could also make foil pans by molding the foil over other things (2 inch size from the lid of an aerosol PAM can, for instance) and avoid buying ANY of the smaller pans!


mamafrogcakes Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 6:12pm
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I wanted to chime in here too and my 2 cents in. Not sure what it's worth but here goes----

You say that you aren't interested in the advertising and that you only want the chance to make the cakes, and that you have freedom of choice....then why not bake for people that you know, work with, go to school with, family etc. Then your hard work can pay off and then you can get more interest in your cakes by people that you know.

I'm not trying to get down on you either, but this woman makes question her intentions. Doesn't sound right for me, and ask ANYONE on this board about having these feelings in the beginning about someone, instincts are always right!!! Sounds like she wants a whole bunch of somethin' for a whole bunch of nothin' and she found the person to give it to her. And also, what makes this woman so special to "advertise" for you. I understand and remember when Star Jones did it but geez, is this woman in a position to bring that much attention to you??? AND are you prepared for that?

DO NOT underestimate your time and effort in all of this!!!

You sound young and ambitious and that's awesome but no one here would want you to get taken advantage of. Sorry that this thread has had "extra" advice to you, but we all have these opinions b/c of things that have all happened to us.

Good luck!!!

TexasSugar Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 7:28pm
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I have heard that mini cakes take alot more time to actually do than the larger cakes. You will have more baking to do. You will be working on smaller details, icing smaller cakes, and such. You also have to have room in your kitchen to have all the cakes laying around and don't forget about transporting all of them where you want them to go.

I totally understand wanting to make more cakes. And wanting to build up your portfolio, but if it was me I really would not do this. I don't think in the end it will be worth it on your part.

Yes your supplies would be paid for, BUT not your time. And it is your time that you are going to be using, and lots of it! Read some posts on here about doing cakes for really cheap. Charging less than you are worth is a clear path to burnout before you even really get started.

If you aren't looking for the advertising, then you really are not getting anything out of the deal. I think you would be better off making cakes for family and friends, maybe people you go to school with, rather than some woman that is looking for cheap labor.

If you do decide to do it, then I'd give her a REAL price of the supplies you would need to do this. Don't cheat yourself here to get in her price range when she is already getting your time and talent for free.

Plus if you posted here to ask about it something about the situation is bothering you. Take a step back and really think about this before you agree to it.

snowboarder Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 8:02pm
post #19 of 44
Originally Posted by slejdick

I haven't done larger than the six inch pan, only because I've never needed to, LOL!

If you put a good band around the side it's pretty sturdy, and I think that should make it strong enough to go larger, though.

You could also make foil pans by molding the foil over other things (2 inch size from the lid of an aerosol PAM can, for instance) and avoid buying ANY of the smaller pans!


Thanks for the tips Laura! icon_smile.gif

MrsMissey Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 8:08pm
post #20 of 44

..I think I would have to say "No Thanks"

If "unique decorating experience" is all you are really looking for.....buy some cake dummies made from styrofoam and decorate them, take pix to add to your portfolio! Clean them off and re-decorate..you will have a beautiful portfolio in no time!!

JamieL Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 9:48pm
post #21 of 44

I want to echo Texas Sugar on the time thing . . . I do multiple cakes for decorating parties, and the most I did was sixteen single layer 6" rounds--I baked and iced them, then the kiddos decorated them. It was a TON of work, and that is without the stacked construction, without the decorating. They take up tons of space and require lots more boards (and board covering) and boxes, which add considerable expense to your cost. Plus, transporting those things is a huge effort that can take even more time--sometimes multiple trips in your car, as well as multiple trips in and out of the building. I absolutely empathize with the challenge of trying to do it, but I have heard so many people do single serving wedding cakes and swear they under-charged, or else they swear never again . . . or they just plain swear! icon_smile.gif Good luck with what you decide, and I look forward to seeing photos of your work!

Jennz818 Posted 18 Dec 2005 , 10:11pm
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First I have to say that the person asking you to do this must be cheap or something...I just don't understand this sponsored wedding thing. Do these people really think that we (not just cake decorators but anyone offerering a service) are just sitting at the edge of our seats waiting for them to call upon us to give them things at cost??? I just don't get it.
Anyway enough with that rant...in my opinion I don't think you really need to do cakes just for free if you're looking for practice. I was just looking at your cakes and not only are they great they are extremely unique!!! I agree with the previous MrsMissey and make up some dummy cakes to perfect your techniques if that's what you are looking to improve.

rainbowz Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 12:20am
post #23 of 44

Well, figure out the costs (go a little large, don't skimp) for the ten cakes including electric and so on for the baking & the gas to get them there. Add a wee bit more to round up. If she's still fine with your price, go ahead, and build up your portfolio and experience.

Give yourself LOTS of time to make these - they may be "small" but will each still take a LOT of work, TIMES TEN. It's not the cake itself that's time consuming, it's the decoration! Ten small cakes are likely to be much more time consuming than one big one.

Whatever cake you do first will sit for several days as you make the rest... unless they're all exactly the same (which defeats the purpose of getting ten different cakes under your belt).

I don't see much logic in this "sponsored" cake thing... If this was a cake show where prospective brides and wedding planners were looking, sure, but the aunt and uncle from Debuque aren't in the market (nor IN your market) to do you any good.

And the "for costs" thing is really bugging me since the primary costs is time. Throw that into your bid and she'll flat out refuse your offer.

So you're basically going for a bunch of stress and a very tight deadline for no pay and no real possible advertising... I would pass.

Wanna build your portfolio? Make those same wedding cakes (but in different colours) and drop them off at the local retirement home or homeless shelter. It'll cost you "ingredients" but you can spend as long as you want on each, no stress of pleasing someone who's paying you squat and you still get to build your portfolio and get experience, and the people who get the cake are more likely to appreciate it.

As for costs, it really depends on how fancy you're thinking of making the cakes, but you are possibly looking at about $15-$20 per cake. As I noted already, though, the real "cost"of the cake is in the labour (and skill) and I really don't see why someone should get free labour. It's a really cheap way of scamming yourself a wedding cake and the baker gets little value in return if the deal is "cake for advertising"; 99% of those attending are not going to be in the market for wedding cake.

Gads, what cretin came up with this cheesy "sponsored" idea?

mommachris Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 12:35am
post #24 of 44

Okay, did I read that right...Star Jones had one of these cheap tacky weddings? icon_eek.gif

Give me a break, of all the people who could afford to pay her bills and with a good tip. Just goes to show you that having money doesn't mean you have class. icon_confused.gif

Just my two cents..
I think getting involved with lady is like asking someone to hit you in the head with a hammer and take your wallet while they are at it. Who needs the aggrivation.


soygurl Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 1:06am
post #25 of 44

Wow, there really seems to be a consensis around here!
I'm glad I asked!

slejdick, that is an amazing idea with the pans! I'm sure I will use it a bunch even if I don't do this wedding.

I really DO appreciate all the "extra" advice (as mamafrogcakes put it). I usually have a really good ability to read people, but maybe cake clouds my judgement... I originaly had a really good feeling about this lady, and that her intentions were pure, but I'm really changing my mind here.

I still not that woried about the amount of work it would be (I was woried about the baking with only 2 pans of each size, but slejdick fixed that!) because my last job was torting, filling and frosting 6" cakes. No real decoration (crumbing the sides and such), but it was around 30-40 cakes a night, and I got pretty fast. I think I WAS underestimating the acctuall decorating time, as well as the hastle of transportation and such!

The esperience is still a big temptation to me, because I don't really have many friends where I'm living now (the all moved), and the ones I have wouldn't pay ingredients cost, or even WAN a decorated cake, lol! If I can get a better paying job, I might consider making cakes and donating them though, because I can't really bring myself to make "fake" cakes! lol, it just seems like a waste to me I guess, idk. I'm kind of silly that way.

Anyway, I emailed her a price. Quite hight for "cost" but I also mentioned there were ways she might cut corners if she contacted me (like no fondant, or only one flavor or cake, etc.). I don't know what she'll say, but if she gives me s*** about it, I'm gonna walk. I may do that anyway... I need to get better at saying no, lol!

Thank you all SO MUCH for all your advice! It really is just what I needed!
I'll keep you posted on what happens...

Jennz818 Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 2:34am
post #26 of 44

Ok...here's another idea. DH is a salesperson for an advertising company...he suggested this. Tell the woman who is asking you to do this that you'll quote her your regular price per cake...and then whenever someone calls you to do a cake you'll send her a check for a predetermined about...say $5...if you're cakes are going to generate that much business from her wedding there is no way she would say no...
I just thought it would be funny to see what she says.
Also makes me wonder if she's gone to any large bakerys in the area to pose this or if she figures that the work hungry small guys would be more willing to give her a free cake....
Not sure why this topic is sitting with me...

dodibug Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 4:28am
post #27 of 44
Originally Posted by mommachris

Okay, did I read that right...Star Jones had one of these cheap tacky weddings?

Oh, yeah. She had this huge to do. I think she even had a Sylvia Weinstock cake. She had like 14 bridesmaids. She apparently had promised all of these vendors she would mention them on The View, etc before the wedding and after. Well ABC had other ideas and told her to knock it off. She ended up looking pretty ridiculous and petty.

izzybee Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 4:46am
post #28 of 44

Sylvia Weinstock does free cakes all the time to get her cakes out there, so that is no surprise!

soygurl Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 6:34am
post #29 of 44

Hey Jennz818!
I love your DH's idea! lol! It really is wonderful. Bridezilla would never go for it (plus I already gave her a quote so its kida too late), but sure would have been fun to see her reation! And you bet I will do exactly that if I ever run into a situation similar to this again! Thank him for me will ya?

I honestly think the bride is just nieve that she is doing anything wrong... at least partly. She wants her creative cakes, and sees this as win-win. At least that's the feeling I got from her... but still... I also have a feeling that my quote is going to be way too high for her, and at this point (thanks to all of you!) I think that would just be a relief!

rainbowz Posted 19 Dec 2005 , 12:04pm
post #30 of 44
Originally Posted by dodibug

Originally Posted by mommachris

Okay, did I read that right...Star Jones had one of these cheap tacky weddings?

Oh, yeah. She had this huge to do. I think she even had a Sylvia Weinstock cake. She had like 14 bridesmaids. She apparently had promised all of these vendors she would mention them on The View, etc before the wedding and after. Well ABC had other ideas and told her to knock it off. She ended up looking pretty ridiculous and petty.

I could understand Star Jones getting people to volunteer their stuff, she still will get a TON of press coverage, can easily have her staff/promoters pass on all the info on the people who helped, draw plenty of press to the event, get mention in wedding and/or "star" magazines and so on. In that light, it's not entirely implausible that one would get good publicity doing Star Jones' wedding.

Its' the same reason fashion designers let stars wear their gowns at the Academy Awards and other high-falutin' events: free exposure and there's plenty of reporters willing to point out that So And So wore a beautiful gown by Such and Such, with jewelry by Blah Blah and plenty of people will actually pay attention to that if for no other reason than a Star is wearing it. That gets the designers' names out there and into the heads of those who pay attention to this sort of stuff.

But not some local bride. Nuh-uh. She does NOT have the fashion press attending.

I must say, I really like the idea of a "cash back" response. If the bride seriously thinks her wedding is going to give you that much business, she should be just as willing to get $10 - bah, make it 10%! - referral fee from any orders received from her wedding. Watch her get all indignant at the idea. Har!!

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