Am I being selfish?

Baking By Twopeasinapod Updated 10 Mar 2009 , 2:17pm by indydebi

Twopeasinapod Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:01pm
post #1 of 37

I have just started making cookies and cookie bouquets. I started selling them in December as a fundraiser for my 13 year old son who is going to Japan this summer as a Student Ambassador with People to People. We have sold a bunch and have made good money for his trip.

But now, I have friends who want me to teach them how to make and deocorate cookies. They want to come to my house and use my things to learn with. A few of them have not even helped us out in the fundraisers.

Am I being childish and selfish by not wanting to do this? I believe they only want to learn so they don't have to buy them from us and they can do their own. Which is okay but I don't want to teach them! Why do I feel like I am being ugly about the whole issue? icon_cry.gif

36 replies
GeminiRJ Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:09pm
post #2 of 37

You could always charge them up the wazoo for the lessons. Certainly they don't expect to be taught for free? They probably have absolutely no idea the work that goes into making the cookies, and the bouquets especially. Many people, once their eyes are opened, will probably decide they'd rather pay someone else than do it themselves!

HeidiCrumbs Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:16pm
post #3 of 37

Hhmm, that's a tough one. Me, having no backbone whatsoever, would probably end up doing it, grumping about it the whole time and then being mad that these people all know how to do something only I could do for a while.

Or, if I did have that backbone, I would maybe explain that I have devoted much of my time to researching how to decorate cookies, online and in books, practicing practicing practicing, buying all of the supplies etc....and that I really don't want to teach people how to do a skill that would put me out of business.

Or, I would tell them with a smile on my face, "I'm sorry, I'm just too busy, but Michael's offers cake decorating classes and I learned a lot of my techniques there," even if it's a lie, lol.

I hate it when people ask big favors like that, especially when they're not a close close friend. Then it would be different, but it sounds like these people just don't want to buy something if they think they can do it themselves. However, even if you did do it, some people are just not crafty/artistic and they're going to not do it well, KWIM? So if you're comfortable that you can do it better, do it and secretly laugh when they really suck at it. OK, that sounded really mean and I'm not a mean person, I just hate it when people try to be sneaky and make it look like they're not trying to take advantage of someone but they really are.

Good luck!

KKristy Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:46pm
post #4 of 37

No, I don't think you are being selfish.
Tell these"friends" that so many people have asked you, that you are thinking of teaching a class. Say that you will contact them when you have determined the class fees and supply lists. That should stop them...but if they keep asking,...write down the supplies they would need...EVERYTHING...if they see that list, then they will think twice.

I don't think non bakers know about all the ingredients, tools and time that goes into the things we make. Just last week, one of my friends husbands said to me..."those cupcakes of yours are so good , I would pay $10.00 a dozen".............( that would not cover the cost of the chocolate I used in that recipe !)

Good Luck to you and your son with the fundraiser ! I hope his trip will be a wonderful experience....and what a great mom you are for helping him to dream big and reach for his goals!

KookieKris Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:49pm
post #5 of 37

Twopeasinapod ~
I totally understand where you're coming from. When I first started my business I had friends and family asking me for my recipes and techniques all the time so they could make them for their parties and events and it really bothered me! I baked for months before "perfecting my recipes" the way I wanted them and it took me a long time to figure out the best way to make my products, so why would I just "share" them like that?
I wound up just saying something like "I'm sorry ~ baker's secrets can't be revealed!" or something as equally corny. I didn't want to offend anyone, but I also didn't want to share!

bbmom Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:56pm
post #6 of 37

You're doing this to make money... teaching all your would be clients how to do it themselves would be poor business sense.
Talk about selfish, how 'bout those people who didnt help with the fundraiser and now want free lessons and supplies.
Just say nicely as possible of course.

icer101 Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 6:58pm
post #7 of 37

i love KKristy's answer... go with that one.. it sounds really nice.. the ones that want you to teach them.. this is , if you have time.. will buy what they need ,for you to teach them.

chutzpah Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:00pm
post #8 of 37


I don't think you're selfish at all.

tripleD Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:03pm
post #9 of 37

no your no being selfish. Why give your tallent away. Don't give your secrets. When I make a cake if people rant and rave about how good it is I never give out the recipe even if its a common one.
I have had a local grocery store come to me and ask where I learned to do fondant and what type I use. Are they nuts.... I am not telling my sources. Then I loose buisness. They have even ordered a cake from me. Then there decorater called and asked where I get my fondant she would like to try it at home. Yeah right.

Dizzymaiden Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:07pm
post #10 of 37

I agree with Kris & icer101

If you want to start teaching (which can be very time consuming) it is just like any other job. You can't just "give away" your time and experience. Your time is valuable and so is your talent.

I just love your Easter cookies - that sheep makes me smile and think of Spring.

P.s it is snowing again...really sick...of...snow!

esculapiaxula Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:09pm
post #11 of 37

I'm a cake decorator, don't do cookies. The only time I tried making a cookie bouquet (it looked easy, right? -NOT!) was after my sister had her second baby. Although the cookies tasted great, I had more breakage than anything. So, I KNOW it's not easy to make those beautiful cookie bouquets. I checked out your pictures and you are VERY GOOD at what you do. I think anyone who is really interested in learning your craft should be willing to pay for the lessons and bring his/her own materials, as he/she would be expected at Michael's or any other class forum. And if you were to get together a class, it would help you raise more funds for your son's trip! thumbs_up.gif

esculapiaxula Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:09pm
post #12 of 37

I'm a cake decorator, don't do cookies. The only time I tried making a cookie bouquet (it looked easy, right? -NOT!) was after my sister had her second baby. Although the cookies tasted great, I had more breakage than anything. So, I KNOW it's not easy to make those beautiful cookie bouquets. I checked out your pictures and you are VERY GOOD at what you do. I think anyone who is really interested in learning your craft should be willing to pay for the lessons and bring his/her own materials, as he/she would be expected at Michael's or any other class forum. And if you were to get together a class, it would help you raise more funds for your son's trip! thumbs_up.gif

liapsim Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:11pm
post #13 of 37

You are not selfish! I would explain that you are "looking into this as a business opportunity" and if all of them are doing this as won't be able to make a business out of it. If they would like to pay to take could do a Saturday school and charge them and make them bring their own supplies....just like Wilton. Or they can continue purchasing them from you!

I had this happen with my cakes. First my friend wanted me to teach her, then she wanted to just come and watch, and her 3rd attempt was to "help me out if I needed it"-whatever! Plus, I had heard from mutual friends that she thought she could easily learn it and do it herself for people!
I just had to tell her "no...this is my work and I'm sorry but if you want baking lessons, maybe that's another aspect of my work I can branch out into and start charging for". I never got bothered again!

julzs71 Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:12pm
post #14 of 37

I would do it. But tell them it is 50-100 dollars and you have to have 15-20 other students sign up. That would help pay for the tickets.
By the way I loooovvvveee Japan. I was stationed there for two years while in the military. Great place to see.

torysgirl87 Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:24pm
post #15 of 37

I would say, "Guys, this is a money-making effort for me to support my child. My efforts would be greatly hindered by giving lessons" and leave it at that. If you feel like your conscience will bother you, maybe you can give them a project page for a cookie pop from Wilton, though I wouldn't even go that far.

Here's a cute one (with tons of details and items to buy but very few instructions that won't begin to cut it to the level of what you're doing!)

Most of what we do is difficult and it takes more than just instructions to perfect the skill. I've tried cookies and decided that I would stick to cakes only! icon_lol.gif
The selfishness is definitely on their part and not yours.

dewia Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:35pm
post #16 of 37

I feel you!

I also experienced this dilemma even if they are my good friends. I make cakes on the side and even go to culinary school for this (and this school is really not cheap... but since I really want to learn and be better... I am willing to pay). Even my cake recipe is something that I experiment and improve over periods of time.

To tell the truth, sometimes I don't mind sharing my technique with my fellow cakers... but what ticks me the most is when I heard comments that say that "Oh.. it seems that it's not that hard to make cake... I should be able to do it on my own at home... no need to take any class." and yet....they just casually asked me for recipes and even ask me to teach them how to do it from start to finish. I love them dearly but sometimes it just make me mad inside.

How do you guys deal with this kind of people without hurting their feeling? Since I do this as a profession.. I'm hoping they should understand that they would have give me dilemma by asking that question.. but that doesn't seem to be the case.

psurrette Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:47pm
post #17 of 37

I understand how you feel. I would be nice and say I can teach you for a fee. I work part time at a candy store and they are always asking me to decorate things Like bunnies this time of year. I have been asked to do the nose, ears and tails. Man it "frosts" my butt because I only make 10 bucks and hour there and they are using me to get a nicer product. I cant say no so I guess I dont have a backbone. Make sme mad but I do it.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:47pm
post #18 of 37

Sorry, I have to admit that I didn't read all the responsed, but since CC is going at a snail's pace yesterday and today and I've gott to look a few things up, I need to make this fast......

I totally agree with what GeminiRJ and KKristy said and suggested!! Charge for the classes this way you don't have to feel like a heel and you recoup from that also!

doughdough Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:55pm
post #19 of 37

You know, it's really up to you. If you really don't want to teach them, then that's your call.

But you could take the opportunity to teach a craft that you do well, and treat it like any other class (charging a fee, make them buy their own supplies, etc.). I think you'll weed out anyone who isn't serious about learning, and you can always keep it simple & not share all of your decorating "secret weapons". icon_wink.gif
I wouldn't just assume these friends are out to steal your business. They probably just think your bouquets are really cool and want to learn, which is a wonderful compliment!

xinue Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 8:09pm
post #20 of 37

I know it is hard to turn down people. You have two choices:
1. say "I'm so sorry, I'm so busy, can't do it. There are classes at the local craft store..."
2. Charge them! explain that this would take some of your precious time (that can be expent while making cookies for sale), they would be using your stuff, your kitchen...
If they are good people they will understand.
Good luck with that!

cocobean Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 8:11pm
post #21 of 37

You could say... Oh my gosh, you guys are sooo flattering to want me to teach you, but TEACHING is just not something I like to do! Besides, I don't know where I'd find the time to do that! It shows them you are flattered icon_smile.gif

robinscakes Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 8:19pm
post #22 of 37

I have a verrrry hard time saying no, too. I'd just say that I didn't have time to teach lessons but offer them the option of going to Michael's or somewhere else to take lessons.

Ruth0209 Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 8:24pm
post #23 of 37

I don't think it's selfish at all.

One thing that always surprises me when I read responses to this kind of question is the need so many people have to make up some sort of "palatable" lie to tell people about why they won't do something. I do not for the life of me understand why people feel the need to do that.

There's nothing wrong with just graciously saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, I just don't do classes" or "Thank you, but I'm just not interested in teaching how to do this." Someone recently asked me if I'd come to her house and "help" her 6 year old make her own cake. I just said, "I can give you a quote to make you a cake, but I just don't do that type of activity." I gave her a few ideas of how she could do it herself, and she was happy with that.

Why, oh why do we think we have to make everyone else comfortable with our responses at our own expense? Not to mention the fact that I know when someone is giving me an excuse, and I think it's insulting. I appreciate it more if when I make an honest request I get an honest response.

michellesArt Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 8:42pm
post #24 of 37

i definately agree that you could use this as an opportunity to raise more money (maybe a little more effectively too) for your son. hold a few classes (beginner, simple techniques) but have a list of supplies. anyone who is is just trying to take advantage will probably not attend but someone who genuinely admires your talent (and has no idea how to begin) would pay. you could even have the first class be 5-8 people max so you would get a better feel of the actual interest (and it would be more manageable) i agree not to share all you secrets and tips but give them a base which they could expand on. on the other hand that is a lot of work and you could just tell them that you have too much on the go at the moment for a project like that. icon_smile.gif

Marmette Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 8:42pm
post #25 of 37

Nope not selfish at all and i think KKristy gave you the perfect answer.
I would definitely go with that.

Twopeasinapod Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 9:00pm
post #26 of 37

Thank you all for your answers and kind words! I do not want to teach a class and really have time to so I will be turning everyone down. I did tell someone just about an hour ago that I don't have time now but if she is really interested in it I can give her a few web pages to check out. She looked at me and said, "I don't have time to look all that up and read it all, I just wanted you to show me!" I just stood there for a minute looking at her and then said, "It's really not that easy for me to JUST show you! Sorry, but I will not be able to do this."

That is all I could get out because I was a little frustrated that she thought I could just show her what to do and she didn't really want to research it or read about it! icon_mad.gif

Marmette Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 9:05pm
post #27 of 37

people are so presumptuous. But way to go!! good thing you told her.

valerieb52 Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 9:07pm
post #28 of 37

I do not think the 'Little Red Hen' felt selfish when the bloodsucking (oops!) pigs came AFTER the crops were planted and farmed and she sweated her little feathers to the bone for her brood and she sayed where were you when...!!! You keep making your bouquets. You can not do or be it all. Your friends will be okay with 'no'. It is alright not to, and if you do it and your true heart is not in it, you will not be spreading the joy you had making them for your little rooster. Bake on Baby,Bake on!!!

yankeegal Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 9:11pm
post #29 of 37

Good for you for sticking to your guns!

Cookie classes are a lot of work. There is a ton of prep work that people don't understand. If you ever decide to do one-charge a ton of money!!

HeidiCrumbs Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 9:38pm
post #30 of 37

Wow, the NERVE of that lady! If she can't even find time to look at a few websites to get cookie ideas where in the heck does she think she's going to get time to MAKE the cookies in the first place?!?!? She obviously just hasn't a clue.

As for making excuses, I totally do it all the time. I'm just such a wimp when it comes to thinking that I'm going to hurt someones feelings I make myself feel better by making up an excuse. It's a character flaw I guess, lol.

Anyway, good for you for not doing the classes! What a load off of your mind, hey?

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