Feeling Torn And Bewildered... Kinda Long.... Sorry

Business By CakeInfatuation Updated 22 Aug 2009 , 9:47pm by myslady

CakeInfatuation Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:00pm
post #1 of 18

Okay... so I've been decorating cakes since March of 2008 when I took my first Wilton course. I love cakes and decorating. Even when I don't have a project that needs to be done, I sit down with my fondant or gum paste and start creating something or I start planning in my head for a project I can do just to be able to create.

Because of my addiction and the need for money... I figured I'd open up shop from home. Get my variance, license, llc, insurance, and start advertising... BUT... had mixed emotions about the book keeping, tax time, and logistics of being legal. Not that I can't do it... I've been doing my own taxes with a 10-99 for a few years... but it is WORK!

Then I find an ad for a bakery looking for a cake stylist. I contacted them on Sunday and by Tuesday I had an interview. Got the job so I can work 1 day a week regularly and then extra as needed for the custom cakes. My job there is to make sure that the more detailed and "clean" cakes go out of the shop with the WOW factor the customer expects.

It's going well... BUT the longer I'm there... despite how much I love my colleagues and my bosses... there are things that I have a hard time with. How long product is left in the displays... the quality of some of the product that goes out, and how icky the decorating room, bathrooms, and kitchen are. Everything is slimy. Then the orders aren't taken real clearly and there is miscommunication... upset clients... etc.

I don't know what to do... I take great pride in my work. I take considerable care with each cake recipe and filling recipe. I CLEAN my space well. I sanitize my stuff... Do I say something or keep my trap shut or bag it and go on my own? My husband is supportive either way. But he doesn't want to eat anything from the bakery. He used to work at one... he knows what should and shouldn't be...

To top it off... I've got a growing following and I'm losing people by sending the friends of friends to the bakery. If I go on my own.. these are clients I could have kept. I'm bewildered!

I'd really like some guidance.

17 replies
Deb_ Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:12pm
post #2 of 18

I'd be torn too.....but, I know for sure that I wouldn't be able to continue working at this bakery.

Good luck to you!

Brenda0217 Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:21pm
post #3 of 18

To me, and I am in no way an expert in this area, but if you are losing clients, that you had already and are refering them to this bakery, that in my mind tells them that you think the same way they do, and care about the cakes in the same way, In which you don't from what you wrote, you are more clean. And it is only one day there. You would have nothing to lose by quitting. and then build up your clients again. And keep an eye out for a more respective place to do cakes, a place that cares how long something is on display etc etc. I would quit since it is just one day a week, and go back to my clients and build it back up.

brincess_b Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:24pm
post #4 of 18

you already know your options, so follow your gut. do you want to work smewhere, where you wouldnt even eat the food?
a lot of people do jobs for services they would now never use having worked there, so it depends if you can suck it up, or just dont want to.
if you do bake at home, or even rent a kitchen or something, im sure you could pay someone to do the bits, like tax, that you dont want to.

whisperingmadcow Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:24pm
post #5 of 18

Just by reading this, it sounds like you want to do your own thing, and thats completely fine. There are alot of risks involved in starting your own business but if you think that you have the client base and a good know-how then I would think maybe its time to branch out.

On the other hand, times are tough. A job is a job. Do you need this one to get by? How close are you to the owners/managers? Maybe they could benefit from some constructive imput.

These are just a couple things to think about. I would love to have my own cake business but I need a steady income to get by so I am just not there right now.

auntbeesbaking Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:28pm
post #6 of 18

Just a thought - would you have more PEACE by controlling those factors in your own place despite the work it will take to get (variance, license, llc, insurance, and start advertising...) ? What does your heart tell you?

I love your signature - GREAT Bible verse!! I'll be praying for you! thumbs_up.gif

auntbeesbaking Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:37pm
post #7 of 18

I should have looked at your photos first - girlfriend you have REMARKABLE talent!!! icon_eek.gif DON'T waste your time stressing over that bakery - you need your own! Your cakes are drop dead GORGEOUS! The way you sculpture - WOW! icon_surprised.gif I loved the one of your dad and mom!! You go girl!! icon_lol.gif

alidpayne Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:37pm
post #8 of 18

Ok, if it were me I would SO TOTALLY just open my own place.

Now, you aren't me, so maybe that is the wrong decision for you. But my advice is to either go it on your own, or just absolutely sit down with your managers and have a heart to heart. Sounds like you get along with them well. Explain to them that you know they are losing customers because of the quality issues and that you don't feel comfortable with the sanitation standards. This conversation might just make your decision for you. If they are receptive and make the needed changes you will be happy with your job. If they don't make the changes you can go open your own place.

LaBellaFlor Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:42pm
post #9 of 18

As they always say listen to your gut and I believe it says you need to leave.

-K8memphis Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 2:42pm
post #10 of 18

That's the rub huh. Been there done that.

indydebi Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 5:28pm
post #11 of 18

If you're working one regular day plus "as needed", can I assume that the money you're making is not the BIG issue .... that's its more of an opportunity to decorate cakes?

If money is not the big issue, I'd go with my gut. In today's times, if money is the issue, then you should weigh and balance the income vs anything else.

I did that once. Literally, I put my money where my mouth was. I was selling insurance, making about $50K a year. But I left my house when my elementary age daughter was getting off of the bus. I didnt' get home until midnight or after, and then spent 2 hours getting paperwork finalized. It was 7 days a week and since it was straight commission, I felt that I couldn't ever stop. I had to go go go. Yeah, I might have a good week this week, but what if I sold nothing next week? icon_eek.gif I never saw my family, I never got to attend family functions, I felt that all I was doing was chasing the next dollar.

So one day I just walked in, turned in my stuff and said, "I can't do this anymore." My husband didn't even bring home enough to make a mortgage payment ... THAT'S how important this issue was to me. We figured we'd make it work somehow.

And we did. God has a way of looking out for fools! icon_biggrin.gif I found a job within 10 days. In my case, it worked out right and I feel it's because I left for the right reason.

leah_s Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 5:47pm
post #12 of 18

I will also tell you to follow your gut. But think it through thoroughly.

1. Working at a bakery will increase your speed and that in itself is a valuable skill. I worked at a bakery and could pull a cake out of the freezer, base ice, decorate it leaving a space for a message to be added later and get it in the case twenty minutes later. That's not bragging - it's the standard in the bakery biz.

2. I also learned how to fix/repair darned near everything. That's also a valuable skill. On my first day I was assigned to do "scrape offs." You know, someone had misspelled a name, written an illegible message, etc.

3. When working in the bakery I also on occasion had to pull a cake I knew had been in the freezer months and months, improperly wrapped, ice it, decorate it and box it for a customer. What that taught me is to properly wrap cake, date it, rotate stock and never for any reason use the crap at the back of the freezer.

4. It is nice to have the luxury of decorating and letting someone else (the owner) take the risks and do the paperwork.

Now that I'm on the other side, there are advantages also:
1. I do what I want, when I want. I can turn down orders like the wedding who just called today - for tomorrow. I can go play it the afternoon if I am willing to do a night bake. There are trade offs.

2. When you're in biz for yourself, there's an old saying, "You eat what you kill." IOW, you must market, sell, bake, decorate, deal with customers both good and bad, in addition to taxes and a lot of other paperwork you may not have thought of yet. But it's all you, all the time. You don't sell it and deliver it, you don't make any $.

3. When I started my biz, I had to make a go of it. That in itself is a powerful motivator.

So, girl, make your T Chart. Pros on one side, Cons on the other and write it all out. If the Pros win and you're ready to strike out on your own, then start the process with applying for your variances and writing our biz plan. Then when you're ready, quit your job.

ps, I can help you with zoning language if you get stuck. Maybe not specifically about your particular city, but I can 'splain those words in a general sense. Let's just say that I "work with" zoning in my area.

Well, I haven't gotten any less wordy.

KoryAK Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 6:39pm
post #13 of 18

Perhaps the sanitation issue is an unfortunate result of the staff being overworked? Now, my place is by no means slimy all over, but as we have gotten busier those corners just don't get scrubbed like they used it. I'd love to hire someone to do just this for me but I can't afford it. I'd love to have my employees and myself spend more time doing it but I can't afford it. We are busting our asses putting out cakes just to keep the doors open right now. I guess my point is try to see it from their side and try to find a way to help the situation. Ask if maybe they'd like you to come in for a half or full shift once a week to get the cleaning backlog done. Do a little something extra cleaning-wise at the end of your shift. I know it's not decorating cakes but that kind of care and motivation makes an employee invaluable and you will get more hours doing more things.

newmansmom2004 Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 7:01pm
post #14 of 18

My personal feeling is that any business that is THAT unsanitary (to the point it is an issue) is not worth risking your reputation before you even get started.

The one thing you DON'T want to do is to refer friends to the bakery then find out they're getting sick from the food they're eating or they're finding sub-par quality. People aren't stupid - they can taste when something has set too long or has gone rancid. Don't wait until it gets to that point.

If you feel you can do it on your own then I say YOU GO, GIRL!!!

leah_s Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 7:09pm
post #15 of 18

Honestly, if you guys ever spend time in restaurant kitchens (not all, but a lot of them) you wouldn't eat in the front room. Just sayin'.

Doug Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 7:38pm
post #16 of 18

follow heart -- and this case it sounds like hubby's silent advice via his not being willing to eat product of that bakery.

point to consider -- will you get the "additional" reputation of "Well, I not trying to be ugly here -- but you know, she used to be such a wonderful baker with the most amazing cakes and just don't know but have you see what she's doing now? I wonder what happened, it just seems like she's slummin. Well.....(tsk tsk) bless her heart!"

do you really WANT to be associated with "such" product?

now as for paperwork -- and who, just who said you had to do it? -- that's why there are these absolute magicians with numbers who speak in foreign tongue of bottomlineia -- they call themselves accountants. Big box -- all receipts there -- had box monthly to this magician. Of course you could get software (quickbooks or similar) to assist too.


based on what tone I could decipher -- you're heart would be happier privately cakin'!

OfficerMorgan Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 7:52pm
post #17 of 18

Your cakes are beautiful!

I would be careful here. I know you didn't say the name of the shop you are working for, but your boss and colleagues could easily see this post and know it is you, since you have your blog attached to the post.

myslady Posted 22 Aug 2009 , 9:47pm
post #18 of 18

Speak up and be prepared to go out on your own. If you really enjoy working there, you can set the example.

If you are questioning how long product is left in the displays, ask the owners if the product can be changed in was to make it move faster. for example, if the product was cake, can it be turned into cake balls, mini cakes, etc after a certain amount of time.

For cleaning issues, clean more than just your area. casually bring up the subject to the other dectorators and see if they feel the same as you. if so maybe work together to come up with a cleaning schedule for you all to follow.

For the orders, talk to the owners and come up with a way or a form that will capture all the pertinent information from the clients.

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