Making A Living

Business By sweetkisscakes Updated 23 Oct 2008 , 5:13pm by cakedout

sweetkisscakes Posted 6 Oct 2008 , 11:51am
post #1 of 28

I am 18 years old and very willing to learn.I work as a cake decorater at wal mart and I have taken some wilton classes but the lack of creativity there is driving me crazy. Ultimately I want to be able to support myself off of just making cakes. My question for you is how do I get to that point? and is it even possible? I have had many people tell me unless I live in a big city it can just be a hobby. any advice is greatly appreciated I don't wanna give up on this dream.

27 replies
littlecake Posted 6 Oct 2008 , 6:53pm
post #2 of 28

how do the "many people" know? have they ever tried it?

in business everyone and their brother will tell you why you can't do it, esp your family.

you got a good start working at the wal mart bakery, i suppose you can ice a cake pretty fast, and have a general knowledge of things.

you could go to some other more upscale bakeries and apply for a job there, and you can learn more things.

i've been doing this professionally for about 10 years, opened my own shop eventually.

i hope you have a passion for it, it's hard work, and you most likely won't get rich doing it.

i have learned tons of stuff off this site, and there are dvd's you can buy, and theres some videos on you tube you can learn from.

GOOD LUCK

indydebi Posted 6 Oct 2008 , 10:48pm
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlecake

how do the "many people" know? have they ever tried it?

in business everyone and their brother will tell you why you can't do it, esp your family.




Abso-freaking-lutely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RobzC8kz Posted 6 Oct 2008 , 11:48pm
post #4 of 28

Luckily for you, those "many people" aren't going to be your competition!! Don't listen to what they say. If you work hard enough at it, and become good enough, you can make a living off of decorating cakes!!

And when all those people want you to hook them up for free, you can tell them that they'll have to pay the same price as everyone else!

loriemoms Posted 6 Oct 2008 , 11:49pm
post #5 of 28

I agree with both of you guys! And it is good advice..get a job working at a high end bakery and see if you love it. And remember, owning a business isn't just being able to decorate cakes...thats only a SMALL part of it!!

moxey2000 Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 12:04am
post #6 of 28

Do you know how many people told Mary Kay Ash that her idea for her cosmetics company wouldn't work? Now there is a class at Harvard Business School in Mary Kay Cosmetics!

Desire and ambition are key factors in any business ventures. There are thousands of successful businesses that weren't supposed to be.

sweetkisscakes Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 3:58am
post #7 of 28

Thank you for all this great encouragement. this is definitely a passion for me. I'm gonna look into finding more high end bakery's some where around here and see what I can do there. As far as culinary school goes is it really necessary? I feel like I could learn hands on while making money instead of spending a ton on a piece of paper that says I graduated.

CakeForte Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 3:58am
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by loriemoms

I agree with both of you guys! And it is good advice..get a job working at a high end bakery and see if you love it. And remember, owning a business isn't just being able to decorate cakes...thats only a SMALL part of it!!




Yes, Cakes is really a tiny portion. Most of my time is in marketing, promotions, working on my website, working on my kitchen plan, looking for suppliers, scheduling appointments, working on the appointments, answering emails, networking, keeping my files updated, etc.

I'm VERY part time with my biz right now as I have a FT job and I'm a FT graduate student. Plus I'm limited in what I can do until my kitchen is complete.

If you really want to make a living on this, you need to prepare yourself with a STRONG foundation in business, because that is what will make you successful on your own, not the actual decorating aspect.

indydebi Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 4:11am
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

Yes, Cakes is really a tiny portion. Most of my time is in marketing, promotions, working on my website, working on my kitchen plan, looking for suppliers, scheduling appointments, working on the appointments, answering emails, networking, keeping my files updated, etc.



Dont' forget cleaning! .... everytime I look around, I'm either cleaning or I'm seeing something that needs cleaned! I had 3 weddings this past Saturday .... so today was in-depth cleaning day! I had to put away everything from the weddings (and some of that is still sitting out). I moved all of the equipment out ... the stove, ovens, freezer, warmer, deep fryer, etc., and swept/mopped behind them and washed down the stainless steel walls. The mixer and oven didnt' get turned on until my girls came in after school to make the dealership's cookie order.

I bake cakes on Tuesday .... but I clean every day! Man, that's just not right! icon_eek.gif

chefjulie Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 4:17am
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetkisscakes

Thank you for all this great encouragement. this is definitely a passion for me. I'm gonna look into finding more high end bakery's some where around here and see what I can do there. As far as culinary school goes is it really necessary? I feel like I could learn hands on while making money instead of spending a ton on a piece of paper that says I graduated.




Oh, my! Culinary school (and any higher level degree) is SOOOOOO much more than a "piece of paper". Obviously, there are great decorators and chefs who didnt go to culinary school; however, I guarantee you that MOST of the really successful ones DID. They dont just teach you how to make a cake. They teach you how to open and run a restaurant, how to make a business plan, etc. Also, you'll learn so much about the SCIENCE behind food. That is really key if you plan on developing your own recipes. Also, if you know WHY something happens with your recipes, you'll know how to make it better and/or how to fix it when it goes wrong. So, no, culinary school is not required; but, if you have the opportunity to go, I dont know why anyone would pass it up. You have one of the most amazing culinary schools right there in NY (CIA)!! I would LOVE to have had the chance to study there. I actually tried to get my hubby to request to be stationed at Ft. Drum so that I could go, but it was still waaaaaay too far.

indydebi Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 10:13am
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetkisscakes

I feel like I could learn hands on while making money instead of spending a ton on a piece of paper that says I graduated.




I have zero formal cooking/decorating training, but I DO believe that add'l education is NEVER a waste of time or effort! If you have the money and the opportunity (!) to advance your career and education, then do it! (she said, as she shook her mom-finger at the potential student!)

loriemoms Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 12:28pm
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

Yes, Cakes is really a tiny portion. Most of my time is in marketing, promotions, working on my website, working on my kitchen plan, looking for suppliers, scheduling appointments, working on the appointments, answering emails, networking, keeping my files updated, etc.


Dont' forget cleaning! .... everytime I look around, I'm either cleaning or I'm seeing something that needs cleaned! I had 3 weddings this past Saturday .... so today was in-depth cleaning day! I had to put away everything from the weddings (and some of that is still sitting out). I moved all of the equipment out ... the stove, ovens, freezer, warmer, deep fryer, etc., and swept/mopped behind them and washed down the stainless steel walls. The mixer and oven didnt' get turned on until my girls came in after school to make the dealership's cookie order.

I bake cakes on Tuesday .... but I clean every day! Man, that's just not right! icon_eek.gif




OH MAN tell me about it! October is my June. I had 4 weddings last weekend, 6 weddings this weekend, 4 weddings next weekend and 7 weddings the following weekend...AND a couple of baby shower cakes, grooms cakes and tastings thrown in there. I haven't had a day off in two weeks and won't get a day off till November 1. (i also have a wedding show in the middle of all of this to do!) The bakery gets cleaned every day, but the rest of the house..hahaha! I have shipments sitting in my foyer that I haven't even unpacked yet! The first weekend of November? I am cleaning my house!!! I wonder how thick the dust will be by then..

sweetkisscakes Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 6:04pm
post #13 of 28

Thanks for all the info! what courses and/ or schools do you all recommend? Also what was your biggest learning experience?

RobzC8kz Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 7:42pm
post #14 of 28

You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a Culinary School Diploma to learn the business. Granted, Culinary School puts everything together for you in one format, but you can earn the same certifications and gain the same knowledge by going to community college and paying for semesters.

Also, some of the greatest bakers/artists/decorators in the business offer classes at their shops to aspiring young artists! You can pay for classes wtih the Masters and get individual, hands on, instructions for a fraction of what Culinary School will charge you!

You should definitely know that running a successful business goes far beyond baking and decorating cakes however. It wouldn't hurt for you to take some business administration courses at your local J.C. and also, while working for other bakeries, find out how they're doing business and try to learn from their mistakes and examples.

Any successful business takes work!

But, if you have the desire, you can make it work!

littlecake Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 11:26pm
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetkisscakes

I feel like I could learn hands on while making money instead of spending a ton on a piece of paper that says I graduated.



I have zero formal cooking/decorating training, but I DO believe that add'l education is NEVER a waste of time or effort! If you have the money and the opportunity (!) to advance your career and education, then do it! (she said, as she shook her mom-finger at the potential student!)




i haven't had any formal training either....but girl, if you can, go to school!

shakes mom finger too!

there are some really educated people on this board....i'm kinda envious (in a good way) that they know so much.

sweetkisscakes Posted 7 Oct 2008 , 11:34pm
post #16 of 28

oh Trust me it's not the lack of desire that's holding me back from going to pastry school. It's more the lack of a college fund. I'm kind of afraid to max myself out in student loans in this economy. Right now I'm working 2 jobs to try to save for it but culinary school is very pricey. So I'm just trying to figure out if there is another way to make this work.

littlecake Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 12:00am
post #17 of 28

well my customers have never once asked me if i had a degree...ha ha ha.

if you are opening your own place, you're the boss.

if i were doing it over, i'd take a business course.

do you watch "the big idea" it's on every night on cnbc...they talk about having your own biz on there, solving problems and stuff.

there was a great post on here awhile back by pieceofcakeaz...i'll see if i can find it.

littlecake Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 12:14am
post #18 of 28

http://forum.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=50352&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

here it is...

HOLY CATS! i have a whole new respect for JAN H....this took awhile!

thank you jan h!!!

sweetkisscakes Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 12:49am
post #19 of 28

thank you that was very helpful. I think I need to work on my cake skills before i even think about going out on my own. that will be happening in the very distant future.

RobzC8kz Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 8:04pm
post #20 of 28

Hi Sweetkiss,

You can still get an education without paying for it up front and out of your own pocket. Most Culinary Schools offer Financial Aid and Student Loans. Almost everyone qualifies for the loans and you don't have to start paying them back until 6 months after you graduate.

And when you do start to pay them back, it's a small monthly payment for like 10 years. And you can pay them off sooner if you are able to save up the money. And once you're out of school and making the money you desire, you'll have plenty of cash to pay back the loans!!

Don't let money stop you.

Not starting is the best way to guarantee failure...

MaisieBake Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 8:21pm
post #21 of 28

Look very carefully at expected income after culinary school BEFORE taking out loans for it. The CIAs of this world charge a lot of money to educate you for a profession that overall pays very poorly.

MacsMom Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 8:45pm
post #22 of 28

The Cake Girls don't have culinary arts training and I'm sure plenty of other succesful cakers out there don't. I learned everything I know from CC and I'm doing pretty well... thumbs_up.gif

Shannie13 Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 8:49pm
post #23 of 28

I am older than you are but I am planning on starting a course in January at my local college. I have arranged that I can take the courses one at a time as babysitting is not available to me and I have a young baby and a 5 yr old. My courses will total 13 overall and will probably take me a couple of years but I figure that is how long it will take me to pay for it too...lol.

Definitely take a look around, I have a student loan that I am still paying off 10yrs later. Sometimes college can be very beneficial, especially if you don't have help paying for it.

I wish you the best of luck!
Shannie

MacsMom Posted 8 Oct 2008 , 8:57pm
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetkisscakes

oh Trust me it's not the lack of desire that's holding me back from going to pastry school. It's more the lack of a college fund. I'm kind of afraid to max myself out in student loans in this economy. Right now I'm working 2 jobs to try to save for it but culinary school is very pricey. So I'm just trying to figure out if there is another way to make this work.




Again, if you can bake a tasty cake and do a fine job decorating it, you can still enter cake competitions and have that on your resume if you want something more than simply "self-taught." But people generally buy what they like, regardless of whether you took out a huge loan to go to culinary school.

There's a more in marketing than a piece of paper.

CakeForte Posted 9 Oct 2008 , 3:33am
post #25 of 28

ZERO culinary arts classes here...Not even a Wilton course to my name...LOL.
I do have have a degree and am I'm a master's program now....but they are still both 100 miles away from this industry.

I just had an interest that I found very relaxing....and a love of books and the internet. I read and practiced what I read and learned by trial and error. My cakes were crappy!! I wouldn't even let my family eat them.

But eventually...I got better and better and then slowly turned in to this "thing" that actually pays off my student loans from school, and most of my business expenses.

Student loans are not bad debt...so don't discount them. It only turns into bad debt if you stop paying and default...which is hard to do because they give you MANY options and deferment if you are having a hard time paying at any point in time.

Anyway, Even if you don't earn a degree...taking classes at community college, or even online now via University of Phoenix, in the subjects that you don't know...will help you immensely.

Sweet_Guys Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 3:56pm
post #26 of 28

We both work in fields out of the realm of food. I'm in education and Peter is in theme park management. However, we learned to cook from our mothers and we learned to cook more when we each moved out on our own.

As an educator, I never think low of a quality education. In this economy, though, I also think of practicality.

You've received a lot of good information. True, you could go to the CIA (I wish I had thought about it when I grew up 45 minutes from there). But, on the other hand, perhaps working for cake shops and going to get a business degree would be more beneficial. You'd be getting cake experience and decorating experience from the part-time job. Yet, you'd be getting the running-the-business side of it at a lower cost at say one of the community colleges in New York.

Also, joining ICES (go to www.ices.com) and networking with people at the yearly conventions and meeting people in your own area will advance your skills. Here would be a great way to enhance what you aleady know at the fraction of the cost of a college education. Dues are around $60, the convention costs about $200, and then classes are either $7 (for demonstrations) and $50 for hands-on. A great summer investment in your future!

There really is no one right answer just as there is no one right way to make buttercream. Do what you feel is right and what you enjoy and what you like. The rest will fall into place in due time.

Paul & Peter

travelingcakeplate Posted 20 Oct 2008 , 4:44pm
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by loriemoms

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

Yes, Cakes is really a tiny portion. Most of my time is in marketing, promotions, working on my website, working on my kitchen plan, looking for suppliers, scheduling appointments, working on the appointments, answering emails, networking, keeping my files updated, etc.


Dont' forget cleaning! .... everytime I look around, I'm either cleaning or I'm seeing something that needs cleaned! I had 3 weddings this past Saturday .... so today was in-depth cleaning day! I had to put away everything from the weddings (and some of that is still sitting out). I moved all of the equipment out ... the stove, ovens, freezer, warmer, deep fryer, etc., and swept/mopped behind them and washed down the stainless steel walls. The mixer and oven didnt' get turned on until my girls came in after school to make the dealership's cookie order.

I bake cakes on Tuesday .... but I clean every day! Man, that's just not right! icon_eek.gif



OH MAN tell me about it! October is my June. I had 4 weddings last weekend, 6 weddings this weekend, 4 weddings next weekend and 7 weddings the following weekend...AND a couple of baby shower cakes, grooms cakes and tastings thrown in there. I haven't had a day off in two weeks and won't get a day off till November 1. (i also have a wedding show in the middle of all of this to do!) The bakery gets cleaned every day, but the rest of the house..hahaha! I have shipments sitting in my foyer that I haven't even unpacked yet! The first weekend of November? I am cleaning my house!!! I wonder how thick the dust will be by then..




Wow, that is quite a bit of work for one weekend. How do you organize creating several wedding cakes for the same day? icon_eek.gif What is your method?

cakedout Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 5:13pm
post #28 of 28

Paul & Peter... YEAH ICES!!

Great advice- being a part of a supportive group like ICES has been a great asset to me over the years! I've learned so much from other decorators and made some great cake friends along the way! thumbs_up.gif

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