How Do I Handle This?

Business By Kitagrl Updated 25 Jan 2009 , 8:30pm by Kitagrl

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 6:36pm
post #1 of 34

Okay I have a semi-regular customer...she enjoys finding homemade cakes online (or the kind that is posted for "regular moms" to do) for me to copy. Last time she did it, it was a design easy to improve upon and it actually turned out really cute.

This time she is ordering again, and sent me the photo in the mail and wants me to call her when I get it. Um....Its a round white iced cake with blue icing "waves" complete with Twinkie boats and some kind of sails (not sure yet, she sent the complete instructions. *sigh*) and Goldfish crackers in the waves. She also requested little people fishing.

Oh...the photo is from a Woman's Day mag so I can't find it online.

So...what do I do? I'm not trying to be proud or anything but geez....she wants to pay me to do something she could just do herself? I don't know if I want some kind of Sandra Lee cake going out of my house, ya know? But its not like she's a new customer, either. I'm just like appalled at the cake she wants me to do. Good grief she sent me the instructions!

What do I do? Humor her? I don't even know what to charge.

33 replies
kelleym Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 6:43pm
post #2 of 34

Heh. That's kind of funny and sweet and sad all at the same time.

I know exactly what you mean - I wouldn't want to do this either. You mentioned that the last time she did this, you improved on the design. Can you do the same this time? Give her the essence of what she wants without replicating the semi-homemade cake in the photo?

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 6:46pm
post #3 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelleym

Heh. That's kind of funny and sweet and sad all at the same time.

I know exactly what you mean - I wouldn't want to do this either. You mentioned that the last time she did this, you improved on the design. Can you do the same this time? Give her the essence of what she wants without replicating the semi-homemade cake in the photo?




I know....she's a real cute preppy enthusiastic mom....

The last time I pretty much copied the design verbatim but did it more neatly than the photo...plus she requested something extra on top. So it was cute.

This is like, good grief, twinkie boats with breadstick masts and royal icing sails, and colored goldfishies. And then she wants boys fishing off the sides of the twinkie boats...?????

Help here....

Juds2323 Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:14pm
post #4 of 34
Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:16pm
post #5 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juds2323

Is this the cake? http://www.womansday.com/Recipes/Ship-Ahoy-Cake

JUDI




No, its not...unfortunately, that link is cuter than the one I got in the mail. haha.

CakeForte Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:29pm
post #6 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl



So...what do I do? I'm not trying to be proud or anything but geez....she wants to pay me to do something she could just do herself? I don't know if I want some kind of Sandra Lee cake going out of my house, ya know? But its not like she's a new customer, either. I'm just like appalled at the cake she wants me to do. Good grief she sent me the instructions!

What do I do? Humor her? I don't even know what to charge.





That's just it. Some people get so overwhelmed with even the easiest baking task that they would rather pay someone. Just the same as people have maids/ take their car to the car wash/ buy frozen dinners instead of cook....etc etc. It could be a conflict of time on her end...who knows.

I think you should do it...charge it like you would for a custom party cake.
You don't have to add it to your portfolio if you don't want to. Plus she it sounds like she is loyal to you and this won't be the last cake.

Unless there is another issue that I'm missing??

Bijoudelanuit Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:32pm
post #7 of 34

Could you use the theme and bring it up to par? Let her know that you like the overall theme of the cake, but have some great ideas to improve on it?

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:32pm
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl



So...what do I do? I'm not trying to be proud or anything but geez....she wants to pay me to do something she could just do herself? I don't know if I want some kind of Sandra Lee cake going out of my house, ya know? But its not like she's a new customer, either. I'm just like appalled at the cake she wants me to do. Good grief she sent me the instructions!

What do I do? Humor her? I don't even know what to charge.




That's just it. Some people get so overwhelmed with even the easiest baking task that they would rather pay someone. Just the same as people have maids/ take their car to the car wash/ buy frozen dinners instead of cook....etc etc. It could be a conflict of time on her end...who knows.

I think you should do it...charge it like you would for a custom party cake.
You don't have to add it to your portfolio if you don't want to. Plus she it sounds like she is loyal to you and this won't be the last cake.

Unless there is another issue that I'm missing??




No. I guess that's about it. My cost per serving for a custom party cake will be putting this "homemade cake" at a price of at least $100....craziness. And then her guests aren't exactly going to want to be calling my number...I guess that's my main hangup. I still do alot via word of mouth...people who attend parties and want a cake just like the one at the party they attended.

stephaniescakenj Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:45pm
post #9 of 34

i had a woman ask me to make her a baby shower cake a month or two ago. she sent me pics that she found online of I think marshmallow booties covered in buttercream stars and she had baby bottle candles and pacifier candles. After speaking with her for a little while, I sort of convinced her to just let me "do my thing". I made the booties out of gumpaste and a little sleeping baby too that matched the bedding. She was really happy and called me the next day to say how happy she was that I did it my way because it looked so much more professional. I might suggest the same to this woman, maybe tell her the twinkies are a nice touch but that you could make them out of gumpaste or whatever your intentions are and that it will look a little cleaner than the original, more professional since she is paying a hefty price. Just say, I'll make whatever you want of course, but might I suggest... blah blah blah.

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:48pm
post #10 of 34

Yeah....I'll probably need to do that!

panchanewjersey Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:53pm
post #11 of 34

You know that's funny, never understood these cute preppy moms when they do b-days they almost always bake their own cakes in a one of those glass rectangular pans and just frost the top and sprinkle add a candle and there's your cake or they just order a little cheap funky cake from Save Mart. Then you have you reg working mom who barely has any money for a party but wants it to be the best and she doesn't care what she spending just make it look beautiful, I'll just work harder next week. Hmmm So as long as she's willing to pay you for it just make it as weird as it looks, and if she complains then ask her why she didn't make it instead. Funny how people try to tell you how to make they're cake and give instructions but can't do it themselves. I hope she doesn't tell her guest when they ask her where she got, that she had it made and she could've done a better job.

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 7:56pm
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by panchanewjersey

You know that's funny, never understood these cute preppy moms when they do b-days they almost always bake their own cakes in a one of those glass rectangular pans and just frost the top and sprinkle add a candle and there's your cake or they just order a little cheap funky cake from Save Mart. Then you have you reg working mom who barely has any money for a party but wants it to be the best and she doesn't care what she spending just make it look beautiful, I'll just work harder next week. Hmmm So as long as she's willing to pay you for it just make it as weird as it looks, and if she complains then ask her why she didn't make it instead. Funny how people try to tell you how to make they're cake and give instructions but can't do it themselves. I hope she doesn't tell her guest when they ask her where she got, that she had it made and she could've done a better job.




I think I will ask her if I can modify. haha.

Regarding your observation...I"ve noticed that too! I have a customer who has been making payments for months now for a Feb cake she ordered. I guess that's why the cute preppy moms have money...they put it in the bank instead of spending on cake. haha.

Deb_ Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 8:02pm
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

No. I guess that's about it. My cost per serving for a custom party cake will be putting this "homemade cake" at a price of at least $100....craziness. And then her guests aren't exactly going to want to be calling my number...I guess that's my main hangup. I still do alot via word of mouth...people who attend parties and want a cake just like the one at the party they attended.




Does she expect your price to be lower because it's considered a "homemade cake" instead of one of your custom cakes?

peg818 Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 8:02pm
post #14 of 34

call me a pessimist but is she passing your work off as hers?? That was my first thought, she wants you to do something she could do if she were so inclined so she can pass it off as hers with out having to deal with the mess.

__Jamie__ Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 8:17pm
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by peg818

call me a pessimist but is she passing your work off as hers?? That was my first thought, she wants you to do something she could do if she were so inclined so she can pass it off as hers with out having to deal with the mess.




Now that gets my brain turning! Hmmmmm....not an impossible scenario! icon_cool.gif

Sweettooth1120 Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 8:19pm
post #16 of 34

Keep in mind that what looks simple and easy to most of us isnt simple and easy to do by someone else. I sometimes have the mindset when someone asks he "how did you do that" that "heck you could do it too if you tried." But in reality, they cant or dont hve the time, energy or desire to do it. So yes it looks easy to you and has twinkies and pretzel rods but that doestn mean that she can replicate it and have it turn out the same way.

I would say to her that you dont like to replicate other peoples work, your not a copy cat cake artist. Find out what she loves about this cake and design a cake with those elements. You can have a lot of the same elements without the cake looking the same.

Kim

mom2spunkynbug Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 8:26pm
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by peg818

call me a pessimist but is she passing your work off as hers?? That was my first thought, she wants you to do something she could do if she were so inclined so she can pass it off as hers with out having to deal with the mess.




I was wondering the sme thing...

imakecakes Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 8:34pm
post #18 of 34

Surely she must know what you're capable of. Your webite gallery is amazing!! Your cakes are true artwork! I don't get why she would ask you to make such a simple cake unless she thinks it will be cheaper. Charge her your regular going rate and see what happens.

Maybe you can refer her to the galleries here when she's searching for future cake ideas.

Or mention how to search Google for cakes to steer her away from the do it yourself cakes.

Or suggest next time that she give you the theme or idea she's looking for and then let you do your own thing. In this case, she could have said "Bobby loves fishing--I trust you to come up with a great cake idea for him!" Most of my friends do it this way.

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 9:34pm
post #19 of 34

I do think I"m going to switch it up some. I think she just likes the "mom made" it type look...that always seems to be what she comes up with. I don't think she passes it off as hers, but who knows. haha. And surely she knows it won't be cheaper....? We'll find out!

KeltoKel Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 9:44pm
post #20 of 34

I think you should do the cake. I know some people have posted that business is slow so be happy that you at least have business, even if it isn't the most impressive cake.

I would definitely try to give the cake your own creative twist. Tell her what many people tell their clients, "you can give me a pic, but it won't be 100% the same."

Make the cake you do look better than the one in the pic she gave you!

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 9:51pm
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by KeltoKel

I think you should do the cake. I know some people have posted that business is slow so be happy that you at least have business, even if it isn't the most impressive cake.

I would definitely try to give the cake your own creative twist. Tell her what many people tell their clients, "you can give me a pic, but it won't be 100% the same."

Make the cake you do look better than the one in the pic she gave you!




I'm not complaining. icon_smile.gif I am a little slow myself.... and am happy for the orders.... I just am thinking about how her party guests are going to view this "Cake by Suzy" and I want to think about how I represent myself in all cakes.

Its not that I'm not going to do the order...I just didn't know how to approach this.

Deb_ Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 10:19pm
post #22 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

I just am thinking about how her party guests are going to view this "Cake by Suzy" and I want to think about how I represent myself in all cakes.




After looking at your gallery Suzy I have to agree with you on this point. Your work is awesome.......perfection........fantastic..........top notch......etc.

It's obvious that a "cake by mom" style cake is way beneath your talents and you're not going to want the guests at this party to think that's your level of work. (even though yours would be better than most moms could make)

So as recommended by other posters before me, I would tell the client that you will use her picture as a guide, but she shouldn't expect twinkies, gold fish crackers and the like on the cake you make. It will be much better than that. I think you'll have fun replicating this in your own way, and at the same time you'll preserve your reputation as a "custom cake decorator".

Good luck, I can't wait to see your creation!
Deb

Danielle1218 Posted 17 Jan 2009 , 10:49pm
post #23 of 34

Here's my 2 cents. I would do what she wanted. The last thing you need is for her to tell all her yuppie friends at her party that she asked you to do one thing and you did something different. That would give you a bad name.

I, in no way can decorate to your level, but I did have something similar happen to me last summer. A repeat customer wanted a cake for her daughters Sweet 16 b-day...and wanted nothing on it but candy. So, I debated over and over what to do because it just seemed too simple. So after 2 weeks of figuring out what to do, I did just as she asked. I make a cake covered with candy. SHe could have done it herself...but then again like someone else noted on here.....she was "wowed" with what I did. It was something she would have never thought to do herself but I whipped it out in 2 hours. I charged her $40 for the cake. I want her to come back for more.

So take that for what its worth. Hopefully, she will give her friends your name and if anything comes from it, you will get some more business. HTH.

mamacc Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 12:15am
post #24 of 34

I wouldn't want to send out a cake with twinkies on the top either....I agree with the idea of telling her you can capture that "essence" of the theme but in your own style and maybe more tailored to the birthday child or something. I would charge her at least $100 and not even feel bad about it.

Kitagrl Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 12:20am
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamacc

I wouldn't want to send out a cake with twinkies on the top either....I agree with the idea of telling her you can capture that "essence" of the theme but in your own style and maybe more tailored to the birthday child or something. I would charge her at least $100 and not even feel bad about it.




I think I agree...I'm thinking about just telling her that I have to charge her the same price whether she gets the cake in the picture or whether I use my "own style".....and that I don't want her to have to pay $140 (the price for how many servings she needs) just for twinkies and goldfish...although if she is stuck on that idea, then so be it I guess! No business cards for her. haha.

confectionaryperfection Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 12:30am
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by peg818

call me a pessimist but is she passing your work off as hers?? That was my first thought, she wants you to do something she could do if she were so inclined so she can pass it off as hers with out having to deal with the mess.




I WAS THINKING THE SAME THING!!! THAT IS WANTS IT LOOKING HoMEMADE SO SHE CAN PRETEND THAT she made it. who knows at this rate maybe her friends will start asking her to make cakes for them and she will get them from you and charge them like she made it. maybe she is a BORED preppy mom

BlakesCakes Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 3:45am
post #27 of 34

Personally, I wouldn't like "degrading" my skills, on purpose, for anyone.

I'd be inclined to be very honest:

The cake is cute, but way below my skill levels. I can make it, but I'd rather not because others seeing it won't understand that I'm capable of much more advanced work. Also, just because it's much more basic that I normally do doesn't mean that it will be cheap. I still have to charge you buy the serving, so in all honesty, it will be an expensive cake that will look cheap.

You could then tell her that you're happy to take her money but that under no circumstances is she to tell anyone who made the cake OR you can tell her that because of this issue, you'd rather not make the cake.

Just my .02
Rae

FromScratch Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 5:25pm
post #28 of 34

I agree with Rae.. no way would I send out a cake with twinkies and gold fish on it. Now handmade gumapaste twinkie boats would be another thing.. icon_wink.gif.

I would draw up a sketch and see what she thinks and if she insists on twinkies I'd tell her she could easily make it herself.. maybe even provide the base cake and let her have at it.

mysonshines Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 11:25pm
post #29 of 34

I'm still smiling about the twinkie boats icon_lol.gif Sorry. I don't think I'd want to be caught purchasing twinkies, let alone decorating a cake with them. You are way too talented to make a cake at that level. People do talk. I'm amazed at how often people tell me they were at so and so's party and saw my cake, when I had no idea the people knew each other. Word does get around. But she's a good repeat customer. icon_cry.gif It is a tough situation -I think I would have to go with something similar to what Rae said. It's curious to me. I want to know more... what does she dress like? her home decor? Is everything 'homey'? Or is it just cakes? What about previous cake orders? You don't have to answer. I guess it's the therapist in me that wants to know more. icon_smile.gif Let us know what happens.
Deirdre

Deb_ Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 10:07pm
post #30 of 34

Hi kitagrl,

Just wondering about the infamous "twinkie cake", did you end up doing it?

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