I NEED to complain but I don't want to gossip, and I feel like I'm going to explode!!!
99 percent of the cakes I've done I've had mostly free will to do what I feel will work with the occasion, as long as I know what the theme/color, etc. will be. Of course, this may also be because I haven't really charged for my cakes either, so maybe people don't feel they have the right to push me? But basically, people have loved the cakes I've done and been ecstatic to get something far and above what they were expecting.
I thoroughly enjoy the artistic aspect of caking, and that I've been able to build confidence that I can pull off whatever was needed, and then some.
What I'm really struggling with are the few 'difficult' people that want to torture me! And it's only the ones that will never be happy no matter what anyone in any situation will do; they are the ones that suck the fun right out of this for me!
I don't like being questioned about every single little detail that I haven't even figured out myself; a lot of that happens during the decorating process as I'm going along. I don't like that instead of someone telling me, "I don't want this, or I don't care for that," I'm being asked, "Were you planning on using fondant or bc for xxxx details?" and me not knowing whether they DON'T want fondant because they hate it, or whether they DON'T want bc because they think fondant details look better. Just tell me!
And then proceed to tell me EXACTLY how to decorate their cake down to which colors to use on which tier, which accents to use where, question how I will border (as if I just wouldn't DO a border?!), and not allow me to offer any creative insight, such as, you really shouldn't combine jewel tones with whimsical colors.......
Okay, here is the thing; this is coming from a wealthy woman in a very well to do area that has the 'best of the best'....lives in a 1-2 mil. $$ home, drives a Mercedes, carries Louis Vuitton, etc. She wants to make a statement by the cake she presents at her child's party and is obviously afraid I can't pull it off. Then don't ask me to do the cake!!!
And, I do feel I have a 'knack' for this and there are certain rules that need to be followed in order to produce a more professional looking end result, like, YOU SHOULDN'T MIX JEWEL TONES WITH WHIMSICAL COLORS!! And, you shouldn't use cheapy plastic dollar store jewels to decorate the cake when you want to impress your wealthy friends! AND I'm also a big believer in the rule of three's....three colors instead of just two, three accents, or five, or seven, but not two, or NONE AT ALL!! Let me do my job!
Even though I'm not running a business doing this, my name is still going to be on this cake, and I take pride in doing what I do; I don't want to produce something that looks amateur at best and give the impression that that is how I operate. I do tend to be a perfectionist (not that I'm under the mistaken notion that my cakes are perfect by any means, but it's what I'm striving to achieve in each one I do). And the bottom line is, this lady is going to be MUCH more disappointed in the cake she wants me to produce than the one I CAN produce based on the knowledge and experience I've gained. And then she will complain that she should have gone to xxxxxx specialty bakery that all the wealthy people use (okay, I don't even think there is one here, but you know what point I'm getting at), and I just don't like dealing with people that are never happy.
I had entertained the idea of opening a shop of my own at some point, but honestly, I don't want to deal with people like this, because it's not worth it to me! This is only the second person I've dealt with like this, the first being my own sister, and I KNEW what I was getting into there! LOL. And, this is only a birthday cake for a small child for goodness sake! There's just no way I could deal with the 'bridezillas', or momzillas for something MUCH more important like their wedding cake!
Soooo, today, I told my husband I'm not doing anymore cakes except for us and what "I" want to do, how I want to do it, and WHEN I want to do it! His response? "Good! I don't know why you let people run all over you all the time anyway, and you get way too stressed caking anyway! " So I really think I am done.....at least for now.....
Thanks for letting me vent....I know it was long, but I feel much better now!
PS The cake in my avatar was done last week for this same lady so she could 'test' me out before her child's party and she never even told me what she thought of it, whether it tasted good, etc. Just nothing! I guess I just don't understand people?!
Wow i think you already know the drama this mumzilla is going to bring. You might have to call her to get a feedback on the last cake.Good luck.
I'm glad you're here. I'm not sure what "haven't really charged for my cakes" means exactly but it can't be good.
I can't sleep so here goes...
The 'cake lady' phenomenon is very interesting. Typically in the post WWll days we got our fancy cakes from the bakery--then not too long after that Wilton started equipping the homemaker and here we are viola.
Now then, there's been tons of people like you who to whatever extent 'don't charge enough' and there's been jillions of us doing this adding that fuel to this fire. Couple that with our willingness as women to lay down and be rugs--speaking just in general.
So the whole reason to be legal and run a nice shop is to be able to have the tools to deal with madame-got-rocks there and other folks like her who might live in a different neighborhood but have the same pushyness.
So you are evolving into what you need to be. Being pissed off right now--that's good. To be making decisions based on the reality of the market place and the types of customers--excellent.
That's why being legal is so important. Because then you can turn your turntable slowly and carry a big spatula.
Just tell her no.
When people don't value their own work nobody else will either.
What's the true price of excellence thoughts for you
I'm sorry to hear what this momzilla is doing. I've looked at your cakes and they're beautiful. You're quite creative and know what you're doing! I hope to be as good as you one day.
Keep your chin up - she's not worth it!!!
Sounds like she's the type that won't say anything until her "friends" make a comment, then she will put her two cents in.
Love your cake, the color of the bow really pops!!
I get it that when you're doing cakes for free, you kind of do your own thing, design-wise (I do the same thing). But when someone is paying a lot of money for a cake, they have every right to be picky over the details... I don't always agree with them, and I do try to find a good compromise during our consultation, but in the end, if I'm making a cake that might cost anywhere from $150 (my minimum) to well over $1000, the customer should get what they want. I have, of course, turned down jobs for cakes that I did not want to do for one reason or another (difficult customer or a design I just was not comfortable putting my name on), but you do need to be a little flexible when people are paying you for what THEY want. You may be a big believer in the rule of three, but if I'm paying you $750 for a two-color cake, you better well give me one!
Now I get your frustration with this women also... there are always those PITA customers who seem like they live to make our lives hell, but in those cases you have two choices: Suck it up and make them happy for the sale, or turn down the job (I have no qualms about turning a job down for creative difference).
It's funny how some of us want to be able to do our own thing and others are more comfortable with the customer picking every single color and detail.
Since I don't have a business and don't want one at this point, I have no trouble telling people no if I don't want to do something. I'll just say, "That's not my style," "I don't make cakes covered in those little stars. I quit doing that ten years ago!" or "I'm not putting a bunch of plastic toys and/or a birdhouse on a cake. Just not going to happen." Either they decide they want something I'm willing to do or they go get their cake somewhere else. Either way I am a winner.
Don't give up what you love doing because you come across one person who irritates you...use her as practice dealing with a PITA, or for you to learn that you don't have to do every cake for everyone who asks...it's okay to say no if you just don't like the design.
Have you thought about making up a full color sketch for her, she may be one of those people that has trouble envisioning the colors together and may not like it herself once she sees it all put together??
Also, with the $ Store plastic jewels.........why not find a site that offers candy jewels or tell her you can get a mold and make edible jewels, tell her it's the newest trend in cakes for Celebrities and that her guests will ooh and ahh all year about how (enter her kids name here) has diamonds and rubies on their cake that you could EAT!! Then tell her, anyone can throw plastic gems on a cake....but how many parties have YOU been too where they had candy gems that really sparkle in the lights???
The rule of three usually applies to plated food. You know how many two-tone cakes are out there? Your work is beautiful. Obviouslyshe likes your work or else she wouldn't ask for a second cake. Not everyone is going to call back with compliments. If they order again thats usually a sign they like your first cake. This is simple. Don't do the cake. If you feel you should have free reign over cake designs, cause you may have done some free/low cost cakes, thats not true. Welcome to the world of customer service. If you don't want to serve them, don't.
You obviously have the talent to do cakes. I would not let Miss Snooty Britches ruin something I love to do. I would tell her its obvious that you are not going to be able to please her so maybe she should seek someone else to do this cake for her.
Just an aside here but an important one is you gotta responsibility for the little bitty things people put on their cakes--that they could get ingested.
That's why (moreso in the past) when people used to put the real rhinestones on the lace points onto cakes -- it was so risky to me 'cause it would be easy for one to crack off right into a plate of cake.
So I'm a freak about that.
you Rock...dont give up sweetie just take a break for abit and go back to doing what you love in a couple of months..shame to waste you design kit on one demanding miserable lady....i feel the same way at the mo so i know where your coming from...chin up and dont let the zilla drag you down ;0)
Thanks everyone for first, getting through my ridiculously lONG post! and second, taking the time to respond and encourage.
I am flustered that there was an email in my inbox this a.m. asking if instead of doing the entire cake in one flavor as she originally told me...."to keep it as simple as possible for YOU..." , she has now defrosted the chocolate cake from last week, it's the BEST chocolate cake she's ever had (THANK YOU TO MACSMOM ONCE AGAIN!), and if possible, she would like me to do one of the tiers chocolate. The cake is due tomorrow a.m, I only got the order Wednesday evening, and I was up well past midnight baking last night so they would have a chance to settle and I would have the entire day to devote to icing, decorating, etc. since my own daughter's birthday is tomorrow as well. So NO, she can't have chocolate, as the cakes have already been baked, and this entire thing was very last minute to begin with.
What I meant about not charging for cakes is that I really haven't! I have had a random gift card show up on occasion, cash stuck in my purse, etc. and when I did my brother's wedding cake he paid for my entire set of square pans, and when we went to pay for our hotel room (the wedding was out of state) he had already taken care of it. Things like that where I'm definitely not charging but some of the recipients have 'thanked' me anonymously. Now that we have moved to another state I for a brief, fleeting moment thought it might be fun to open a small shop, but it really isn't worth it to me.
I had thought about the edible jewels also, which is why I'd told her three weeks ago if she wanted me to do this cake she would HAVE to let me know ahead of time so I could have the supplies I would need, but she only asked me on Wed. night to do it AFTER no-one else would do what she wanted for the price she wanted to pay them, then acted as if I KNEW I was doing the cake! Turning it around on me to make herself feel better, but I kept my mouth shut because this is a friend of a friend and our paths will cross frequently. We have just moved to a new state and I certainly don't want to start out on the wrong path with anyone, so I was going to just suck it up and get through this one this time.
I certainly understand someone getting what they want, in the colors they want, and especially when they're paying you (but she's NOT!), but I couldn't get from her what she DID want, only what she didn't. She wouldn't provide me with pictures so I could see the exact colors she meant; one person's turquoise is another's teal, etc. and it is extremely important that I get the colors right for her, except I can't read her mind! This is why we were on the phone for over two hours! And she changed from one style to another, one design element to another, several times throughout the conversations. She really, truly did not know what she wanted. And this is where the advice of someone who does these things is valuable.
It occurred to me this morning that people like this are struggling for control more than anything, yet even when they have control, such as me begging her for pictures so I can create exactly what she's picturing in her mind, they aren't really settled. She just kept telling me, "Oh, I know you can do this, make it fun for yourself, don't stress, have fun with it, I'm really easy to please!" But then that's followed with a strict list of rules of things not to do which leaves very little room for making this cake look decent!
Oh, also, what I meant about the rule of threes (which actually applies to all elements of design, not just food) is, a two-colored cake CAN look beautiful, but not if there are no design elements to compliment it; it will just look unfinished. So as long as there is three of something, whether it be colors, accents, or a combination of both it will definitely look better. That is something that I don't think we as cake designers have to be told, but we just 'get' it.
Anyway, thanks again for this a.m.'s vent LOL, I have to go get these cakes finished so don't have to stress about them anymore!
I agree with what others have said above. You have a right to give your creative input, but if she is paying you for this cake, she has a right to have it look how she wants it to!
Now, I've dealt with a bridezilla - she was talking/emailing me to DEATH about the tiniest, dumbest little things with the cake. I finally said to her, if you will trust me and my creative skills, I will make you a cake that you will love on your wedding day.
She said ok, and I haven't heard from her since!!
Maybe that's all this lady needs to hear!
(Oh, and been there done that with the quitting caking - I'd say I feel like doing that several times a year! It is so much work, and a "thank you, I liked the cake" would go so far...yet so few people have the decency to say so!)
I forgot to add this; when I was young and single I waitressed at a very high end fine dining establishment. The majority of the customers were extremely pleasant, easy to please, and left very generous tips.
The ones that would ask for 'extra sauce on the side', then when you brought that would ask for extra silverware, then you brought that would ask for a glass of ice only, then when that came, etc, etc, etc. They were never satisfied, they apparently thrived on making me run like a crazy person for their every little whim instead of letting me know ahead of time what they would like, or asking all at once instead of every time I got to the table with the previous request, and they never left a decent tip. Ironically, they would request me everytime they came, but certainly couldn't let me know they were actually pleased with the way I gave in to their every demand.
These are the people I'm talking about, and I feel I'm worth more than that to myself than to let someone take advantage of me because they think they can. The problem is, I have generally let them, but I'm in a different place within myself now and I'm not going to let someone's else's difficulty take away from my own family in either my time, or my mood.
There is nothing wrong with telling someone "Sorry I can not make your cake."
Especially when you are not getting paid
If you feel you are worth more (and your right, you are) and your not going to let someone take time away from your family or devalue you, why are you doing this cake for all that is holy?!?!?! Who cares if you just moved there? Who cares if your gonna cross her path again? You are establishing yourself in a new town as the person to take advantage of. If your a good person, poeple are gonna know this, regardless of what anyone else says.
I agree with the pp - your cakes are fantastic and please don't let one diva spoil the hobby that makes you happy I think we've all been there with that "one or two" customers out of dozens that just isn't happy and asks for really unreasonable things. Sometimes it's a good learning experience though - pushes you to go out of your comfort zone and helps you to deal with difficult people She's a very annoying learning experience