Have any of you that are home bakers, taken like 6+ months off from cake decorating and had customers come back when you start up again? I'm thinking about taking a break. In April, my friend, her husband and two kids moved in with me. I was able to keep up with doing cakes, but it's getting harder and harder.
I have to time when I can get the oven. Then if my friend is trying to cook dinner, she hovers over me instead of asking me to move when she needs to get to something. She does the same thing when she wants help with the baby. Then her 4 year old daughter ALWAYS wants to help. That never bothered me before either, but now I'm noticing it takes me twice as long to do any kind of cake and by the end of it I'm irritated.
I just think I need to quit taking orders. I'd still do the occassional close friend's child's birthday or something important for work, but I don't think I'll do word of mouth orders or co-workers.
Do you think people will come back?
Sorry so long.
I think if you tell people that it's only temporary, they probably would come back. Just say something like "I'm sorry, but I can't do any cakes for the next 6 months. If you need a cake after that time, please feel free to give me a call if you would like me to do it." It's up to you how much you want to tell people about your personal living situation. Some people might be more likely to come back if they understand it's because you're doing a favor for a friend and just don't always have access to your kitchen when you need it, but it's really none of their business.
How generous of you to allow your friend's family to move in with you. You did not mention why but I am assuming it was a favor to them. Can you negotiate the kitchen time so you can have time for your cakes, uninterrupted and undisturbed? You kind of give the impression that the living situation is getting to you- maybe a sit down and clear the air is in order.
I agree with pugmama about this being time to clear the air with your friend. It sounds like they're taking advantage of you, and if they moved in with you, then they need to respect your home and your schedule, not the other way around. If you're working they should stay out of your kitchen (i.e. your office.) Your friend needs to understand (in other words you need to tell her this directly) that you're not available for helping with her baby when you're working. You also need to tell the 4-yr-old that because someone's paying you for the cake, she can't help because you promised that you'd be the only one making it. My daughter understood that fine at age 4.
You don't say why they moved in with you, and it's very VERY nice of you to let another family move into your house, but that doesn't mean that you need to give up your business. I think that if you do decide to take a break you'll be fine, but the bigger issue is why you need to change your routine so much because it seems to be inconveniencing your houseguests. If I had to move in with someone I'd be doing everything I could to not inconvenience THEM. It sounds like the opposite is going on here.
We used to own a house in Boston where we lived in one unit and rented out two more. The only time that we ever had any problems with tenants was when we rented to the friends of a friend. Living with friends is difficult because you feel more sympathy for them, but you need to stand up for yourself and set some limits, too.
Again, I don't know the whole story of why they moved in with you, but I'd suggest that you stand up for yourself and don't set the precedent of letting them affect your routine so much.
If you do decide to take a break from cakes for a while let your clients know, then make sure that you let them know again when you start up again. You shouldn't have much trouble if they're loyal customers. Maybe a combination of reducing the number of cakes that you do and setting "kitchen hours" where your friends and her kids aren't allowed in the kitchen would work. Also, make sure that they do have a move-out date in mind, or you'll be unpleasantly surprised when you think it's coming and they don't! (I speak from experience on that one!)
It's true that we can't do it all and sometimes a break is necessary for us to retain our sanity. If that's what you need, then I agree. Let your clients know you appreciate their business, but you need some time off and be sure to call back in 6 months.
But from what I can see in your post, that's not really the problem.
It's really difficult to live with friends - especially when they are down on their luck. But I strongly agree with the others that some ground rules need to be set, starting (but not ending) with the kitchen. That is a business environment for you.
Also, as far as taking a break. Will you be able to lose the extra income now that your electricity bill is higher (etc, etc)? Can you afford to lose one of your creative outlets now that you have other stressors in your life.
There's some great advice here. Maybe you just need a break until this situation is over. Maybe you can use the situation to your advantage. Do you have kids? Maybe she could take all of them to the park one day while you're baking and you could take them with you when you go shopping the next day. Think outside the box.
It's not always easy to broach the subject and make new rules. But if everyone has input it really should help clear the air.
Boy, I wish I took advice as well as I give it!
Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
I don't know why, but I don't get emails telling me when someone has replied to my posts.
Anyway, thanks for all of the advice. Although I just read it, I have already done most of it. The main thing that really kept me from saying much (besides the fact that she is my friend) is that she is paying half the house payment, electric bill, etc so they aren't technically guests. I feel the same as most of you though, if I'm living in someone else's house, I'm going to do my best to not be an inconvenience. Anyway around Labor Day I had a talk with my friend and she seemed to understand and agree with a lot of my concerns. However, more than 4 weeks later, not much has changed. So Thursday (5 days ago) I told her it wasn't working and they need to find some where else to go. They are currently looking and have applied for a rent house. So *fingers crossed* they will hopefully be out in the next week or two and I will have my house back!! And my cakes back!
I took off the entire summer after being bombarded w/ orders and my first wedding cake all at the same time. I had an order every week and I was exhausted! I now only decorate for friends and family to satiesfy my passion, but I know how you feel. If they love your work and you put out a good product, they'll follow you even after your vacation.
you know I just started to work full time (former stay at home mom) since May. I did a few bday cakes, a couple wedding cakes, and cupcakes. And boy was it tough to getout orders. We already have priorities to keep the house clean, cook dinner, pick up kids from preschool. Let alone make cakes. After my last cake ( wedding which was the biggest ever) I decided I couldn't do all of it and remain the same cheerful wife/mom that i like to be. So i too have decided to take a break. And I totally get the child wanting to help. My daughter is 3 1/2. And everytime she sees me doing an order, she wants to help. It breaks her heart when she can't, so now I've decided that all baking will be fun bakinf for a while. aAnd she can help witht whatever she wants. Plus I don't wann miss ot on precious time experiencing life with her all because i am too busy making cakes. All this however, is just my opinion.
Sun33082 -- Good for you for telling them it wasn't working out. I discovered last summer, after having my husband's nephew stay with us for a month and a half, that I am very touchy about my personal space and I do NOT like having someone else there all the time.
BellaSweet -- thanks for that post. I am a SAHM too, with kids ages 5, 3 and 9 months, and I have been thinking about starting a home baking business decorating cakes. Your comments have made me pause and really think about some of the plans I have been turning over in my mind and how they would affect my kids.