How Did All Of You Start Out?

Business By mndy204 Updated 4 Oct 2008 , 5:39pm by moxey2000

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:17am
post #1 of 22

I'm wanting to eventually start my own business and would loooove to open a shop someday (in a pretty far future more than likely). Anyway, I wondered how those of you that do this as a business or all the time not as a business got started?

Did you just make cakes and more cakes until they were coming out your ears and take pictures of them? Did you wait patiently for people to call you with a special event? Or what?

I'm having a hard time being patient, but I also don't have tons of money to make cakes everyday that I'm not being paid for. (I hope that doesn't sound rude or anything like that). I really really really want to practice and really really want to learn, but also want to start making things for people, too.

Sorry this is so long. I've been wanting to ask since I found this site. icon_smile.gif

Any and all help is soooo appreciated!!!

Thank you!!!

21 replies
CakeForte Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:56am
post #2 of 22

My career path was actually a wedding/ event planner and I worked at a large resort as their planner. I hated that...and they hated me too, and when I left I started selling cakes. I have a a regular day job and am in the transition phase of my business. Right now I'm in the process of getting my kitchen constructed at my facility.

I built up my skills by practicing on small 6" cakes. Once I was comfortable enough with the basics and they looked good...I started showcasing at bridal shows.

I made up 2 very nice dummy cakes that were very different. One was a modern/ abstract design, but still very "wedding" (think Ace of Cakes.....although he was not known back then) and then a very romantic, all pink wedding cake with silk flowers. They were not complicated at all...but they got a lot of attention because they were not white like most of the others at the bridal show. From there I booked several consults that turned into business and grew from there. I'm still a very tiny operation, but I make enough to where my cakes cover most of my operating costs and rent for my facility.

sari66 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:12am
post #3 of 22

Welcome! A good way to practice is to buy cake dummies, get them from your local cake store or online and get playing!

indydebi Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:21am
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mndy204

Did you just make cakes and more cakes until they were coming out your ears and take pictures of them?



Yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by mndy204

Did you wait patiently for people to call you with a special event?



Yes. Although if you plan to do this as a business, I wouldn't suggest you "wait patiently for people to call you" .... you have to wear your sales hat ALL THE TIME and work it, baby, work it! thumbs_up.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by mndy204

....but I also don't have tons of money to make cakes everyday that I'm not being paid for.



When I first got started, I worked in an office with 400 women ...we found LOTS of excuses to have a pitch-in! At first, my pitch in contribution was the cake. Then people started "whining" about they had no idea what they wanted to bring in. So I suggested, "Why don't you give me a couple of dollars toward the cake and that can be your contribution? We can say that Debi and Anna brought the cake." Then another person, then another person wanted to chip in. About 3 pitch-in's later, I was collecting enough money to cover the cost of ingredients and usually with money left over. That really helps cover those costs! thumbs_up.gif

Kitagrl Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:34am
post #5 of 22

I started making stuff for church functions....then I had moms wanting their kids birthday cakes done, so I'd charge $20 or so (enough to cover expenses)...soon I was doing them for the mom's friends, etc. Took pix of all of them. Experimented on "cooler" cakes when it was for a friend or something I really wanted to do a good job on.

Then moved out of state and knew I wanted to head towards doing a business so posted my pix on a website and just slowly started building back up word of mouth. Took a good three years to get a slow but steady schedule. This year I got licensed, and its been my best year yet, but I've also had more expenses. I'm hoping next year will see more weddings and more profit...but I can actually call it a "part time business" now I think. I did it about 3 years in SC and now about 6 years here in PA so you can see unless you purposely market yourself aggressively, it does take time.

It just takes time...like Indy says...photograph everything and get your name out there, give flyers or business cards with every cake order so that they can pass it out to their guests. I have gotten so many emails "I was at so and so's party and LOVED their cake and now I want one, too."

Good luck!

Chefperl Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:45am
post #6 of 22

i started with the wilton class about 7 years ago. I had very bad post partum depression and needed an outlet. I fell in love with cake deocrating (always love food and love to cook). Now i teach wilton classes and am trying my hardest to open a shop.

TJCanadian Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:47am
post #7 of 22

I started doing cakes for friends, family, then word of mouth spread. I struggling in that limbo between my friends still expecting cakes for free, and trying to make money. With customers I take what they can afford and the style they want, but if its something more complicated that I've been really wanting to try, I let them know I'm doing more because its a learning experience for me but I'll charge them what we talked about. This week I'm having to tell all of my freeloaders I can't do free cakes for them...some lack manners, some just don't think about what it costs me. I had offered the wedding cake as a gift to very close friends...when it was 150 people....now its 300 people and she wants fondant too, and no offer to cover the difference...

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 1:24pm
post #8 of 22

Thank you all for your help!! I really enjoyed reading all of your starting out stories!! thumbs_up.gif I can't wait to be successful at this, but am really not patient when it comes to getting calls (aiting for them to start coming in anyway). I do have a business card that's going around and I have a little website (I chose blogger and I think I'm regretting it now because I don't have much to "blog" about my cakes.)

Last night after posting this I thought I could practice cakes/cupcakes and take them to my mom's work with cards.

I'm itching to do a baby shower or bridal shower or something like that so I can make a cupcake tower. icon_smile.gif

Anyway, thank you all very much for your responses!! You all really helped a lot!!!

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 1:26pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sari66

Welcome! A good way to practice is to buy cake dummies, get them from your local cake store or online and get playing!




I've looked at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn and I can't find any cake dummies around here. I don't know that there are any more craft stores. Can you tell me where they are at the craft stores? Or am I better off asking while I'm there?

Thank you very much for this, it would sure save money and time making cakes. icon_rolleyes.gif

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 1:29pm
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefperl

i started with the wilton class about 7 years ago. I had very bad post partum depression and needed an outlet. I fell in love with cake deocrating (always love food and love to cook). Now i teach wilton classes and am trying my hardest to open a shop.




I'm glad you found an outlet to help you out during your hard time and that it turned into something so good for you!! Good luck with opening your shop, too!!

I drive all over and keep finding really cute places I'd love to have and can see as my shop, but naturally am no where near able to own one yet. icon_biggrin.gif

CakeForte Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:16pm
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mndy204

Quote:
Originally Posted by sari66

Welcome! A good way to practice is to buy cake dummies, get them from your local cake store or online and get playing!



I've looked at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn and I can't find any cake dummies around here. I don't know that there are any more craft stores. Can you tell me where they are at the craft stores? Or am I better off asking while I'm there?

Thank you very much for this, it would sure save money and time making cakes. icon_rolleyes.gif





Hobby Lobby only has the stacking hat boxes. Those work, but the proportions are a little off in terms of the graduated tier look. For practicing fondant...it works just fine. You can also order dummy cakes online of you don't have a local cake supply store.

jammjenks Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:26pm
post #12 of 22

Do an online search for cake dummies. I buy mine at www.taylorfoam.com but I've seen others use Dallas Foam too.

I started out taking the Wilton 1 course in Oct 2006. DH wanted me to get a hobby and suggested I take the class. I really enjoyed it and decided to make a couple for my work guinea pigs. I work in an office of about 50 and some of them started asking me to make their family birthday cakes and such. Still now, most of my orders come from coworkers and/or their friends. I have relied on word of mouth for my advertisement up until about a month ago. I have been working diligently to legally operate my home-based cake shop and am almost there. I have been inspected, rec'd my sales and use taxID# and business license, and put together my website. I still work full time and do cakes on the side, but someday soon am hoping to go part time at my job. I currently do about 5 cakes per week and have had probably 6 wedding cakes this year. Pretty good for word of mouth, I think.

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:35pm
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jammjenks

Do an online search for cake dummies. I buy mine at www.taylorfoam.com but I've seen others use too.

I currently do about 5 cakes per week and have had probably 6 wedding cakes this year. Pretty good for word of mouth, I think.




Thank you for the link, I'll look into that!

5 cakes a week isn't bad at all for word of mouth!! I'm a stay at home mom so I don't have a workplace to make cakes for, but I'm hoping some word of mouth from everyone I know that does work will help. icon_smile.gif I hope you are able to go part time too eventually. This is such a fun hobby to have!!

jammjenks Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:41pm
post #14 of 22

The other place I was referring to was D allas F oam. I haven't used them, but I know others have.

summernoelle Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 2:50pm
post #15 of 22

www.**********.com is great. For my OSSAS cake, there was some issue with the shipping, so I drove out there to pick up my dummies. They were super nice anf friendly. I've ordered from them about 4 times-great prices, easy to work with!

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:07pm
post #16 of 22

Oh wonderful thank you!!! I was wondering what the blocked part was. Why is it blocked?

I'm looking them up now, I love how many different shapes they offer!! Do I just cover them with fondant and start decorating or cover them with icing? Are they reusable?

moxey2000 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 3:09pm
post #17 of 22

I started out with a Wilton pan for Pikachu (Pokemon) for my son's birthday. I will never forget that cake!! I had skimmed over the instructions and bought everything I thought I'd need. One coupler, one #16 star tip, one #2 outline tip.... Then as I got started I realized this cake had at least 8 different colors of icing and 6 of them used the #16 tip!!! It took me about 6 hours to decorate that first cake and all the way through I kept thinking there's no way this cake is going to look anything like the picture icon_cry.gif . In the end it turned out pretty good thumbs_up.gif . I took the cake to my son's school on his birthday. Everyone loved it. But....I turned around to get my camera and when I turned back around the teacher had already made several cuts in it icon_eek.gif !! I took a photo anyway icon_biggrin.gif .

After that I just made cakes for whatever occassion came up and friends and family started asking for cakes. Now I average 3-5 cakes a week, sometimes I do a dozen in one week and other times I do just 2. I love baking and decorating and I hope someday to do it for a living. I have a space for my shop, I have a double oven, a large refrigerator/freezer, a stainless steel sink and counter/table top, and lots of other things. My DH is putting the finishing touches on my Mom's new house, then he's going to concentrate on my shop (tile, paint, plumbing, ceiling tiles). I'm hoping to be open by next fall icon_lol.gif .

Good luck thumbs_up.gif . I totally understand your desire and obsession thumbs_up.gif !!

mndy204 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 7:20pm
post #18 of 22

Oh I can't even imagine!!! icon_smile.gif

I'm so happy for you and your new shop!!! That's so exciting! I sit and daydream about a future shop of my own and even find places around town that I want. icon_smile.gif Is yours in your home or somewhere else?

I never imagined what an addicting obsession this would become, but I loooove it!!! icon_smile.gif

missmeg Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 7:47pm
post #19 of 22

It started for me with the Wilton 1 course, taken so I could make a fabulous cake for my daughter's first birthday - that was in 2003.

Having been bitten by the cake bug, I offered my services to church for celebrations - hs graduates, confirmation...stuff like that. Knowing I needed more practice, I donated birthday cakes to a local pregnant women's shelter for 2 years. The director would send me a list monthly if any of her girls would be having a birthday. They got free cakes, and design / flavor combos were completely up to me.

It was by early 2007 that people were wanting to pay me for cakes, which legally I could not do. I investigated and discovered that the state of NH is extremely easy-going in allowing home-baked cottage industries. So I got my kitchen licensed, registered for a business name, and there it was!

90% of my business comes from church and people at my FT office job. That's fine with me for now.

littlecake Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 8:36pm
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by summernoelle
www.**********.com is great. For my OSSAS cake, there was some issue with the shipping, so I drove out there to pick up my dummies. They were super nice anf friendly. I've ordered from them about 4 times-great prices, easy to work with!




and very affordable!!!cheaper than wholesale!

Sweet_Guys Posted 4 Oct 2008 , 2:29am
post #21 of 22

We learned how to make cakes with our mothers. Several Christmas's ago, Pete asked for the Wilton Cake Decorating kit. I not only got him the kit, but paid for the Wilton classes.

Our instructor told us of a place where she gets her supplies in Orlando. We met a woman who taught chocolate courses. We took all of her classes.

Then we were bit by the bug. We began making cakes and chocolates for friends, family, and local functions.

Another friend suggested we talk to the owner of the bistro we frequented. We brought him some samples and we've been making cheesecakes on a bi-weekly to weekly basis. Recently, we've added chocolates and cookies for customers to choose from.

We've joined a local networking group and they're meeting with newly fianced couples to introduce them to our trades.

Currently, we use the kitchen of the bistro where we sell our cheesecakes, but either hope to convert our garage into a wholesale location or to rent space for a retail location.

After the economy picks up, we will begin to explore options.

moxey2000 Posted 4 Oct 2008 , 5:39pm
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mndy204

Oh I can't even imagine!!! icon_smile.gif

I'm so happy for you and your new shop!!! That's so exciting! I sit and daydream about a future shop of my own and even find places around town that I want. icon_smile.gif Is yours in your home or somewhere else?

I never imagined what an addicting obsession this would become, but I loooove it!!! icon_smile.gif




My shop will be in a building that my FIL and DH own. It already has a glass front and door and an enclosed courtyard. It'll be perfect! I can totally envision it all already!

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