Finally, a place for me to go and vent lol. My name is Joanne and I started decorating cakes at 14. I went to school and have worked professionally as a decorator for over 30 years when I became ill and had to take early retirement from the job I adored. Flash forward 5 years and now I am a lot better but will always never work in the fast paced bakery again.
I started my own business a couple of months ago when I realised there was a real need here for quality decorating. It was a lot of work, marketing, legal stuff and buying new pans, airbrush, printer....the list is too long to mention. Things are going really well with the exception of a few people who wanted my services for nothing...they can go to Costco..lol. I am able to do up to 4 wedding cakes a weekend (I wanted to take it easy )and I am booked up on a lot of dates.
What should I charge for gumpaste work. I am currently charging on my website 99.00 extra for doing gumpaste for a whole cake-(plus the cost of the cake). Is this too expensive? You have to realize that I come back from the 'old school" and gumpaste is pretty new to me but my flowers are realistic and professional..I would not offer them if they were not.
What also should I do about decorators that I know that have just started out and need my help on cakes that they should of never taken the order on to begin with because 1. they do not have the proper equipment to do that cake 2. they do not have the expertise to do that kind of cake. Why on earth would a young decorator take a cake that they know they cannot do?? I want to be nice and a good neighbor but my friend probably for the meantime should be sticking with birthday cakes and take some culinary training. I do not want to sound like a big b but it took me many many years to become what I am and thats the only thing I ever did for a living. Should I offer courses? Has anybody done courses? I have trained many cake deocrators in the bakeries I have worked in but I turned down the offer to teach as I am quite shy with new people and I even get butterflies with my tasteings..lol
Well, thanks for letting me vent and this will give my husband's ears a break ..he calls me the 'forest gump' of cake decorating because I talk about cake and my biz like the shrimp guy talked about shrimp in the movie..
Congratulations on opening your own business...I know personally how much work that is.
As far as how much to charge for gumpaste work, it all depends on what exactly you are doing. Many people charge by the flower or character etc. If you are talking about fondant on an entire cake...in my area the going rate is generally 1.00-1.50 more per serving (over buttercream pricing). But, I would definitely check out your area.
Let the people go that can't or won't pay the prices you deserve. Not everyone can afford a decorator with alot of experience. And that's okay...that gives the opportunity to somebody with less experience to hone their skill (hopefully their clients know their skill level). And it gives you more time to concentrate on the cakes that are a challenge or worth your time.
As far as people taking cakes they probably shouldn't...
I'm SO guilty of that. I thrive on challenge and love to learn with each cake I do. I'm honest with my clients that it is something that I have never done before. I put every bit of effort into it that I can...and my clients have always been over the moon about the results.
The first time I took on a cake that I thought was beyond me, I was 8 months pregnant and it was a 4 tier Collette Peters Topsy Turvy cake. I studied everything that I could and when it went together at the venue...I stood back and cried. Literally...cried. I couldn't believe I did that!! It was an awesome feeling. So...try not to underestimate a newbie ~that's what I considered myself at the time but in NO way did that cake look like a newbie did it! Be a mentor. You never know what that can do for somebody. And you never know how good they really are until they get the opportunity to step up and challenge themselves. You never know...they may have a particular skill (like the gumpaste) they can help you with.
Congratulations again on your new business!
Oh, I do not mind being a mentor, I just remember when I was a young cake decorator and if I could not do a cake that they wanted...I said so. It is so stressful being in charge of a person's wedding cake (yes, still) that I could never promise something that I could not do and do well. I used to cry at work when I would come in and find 50 orders...and this was only a few years ago..lol. I love to help young decorators but also if I am doing stuff for free (like gumpaste) and they are making money...and I am stressed because I have a bunch of cakes and gumpaste that I should be working on...and I cannot say no...it is just not in me. I was just hopeing that someone might have some advice on how to figure this out...should I invite this gal over and teach her some skills? Should I give her one of my airbrushes to use? What do you think?
If you don't mind helping her...I'm sure she would appreciate it. But, don't put your work or your time on the back burner. Suggest to her that many people learn just by doing. Then let her ask you if she has questions.
But...don't burn yourself out...you've got plenty of cakes to do! Have fun!!