I'm Ready To Ditch The Grocery Store Job (Long)

Decorating By ladycakes85 Updated 24 Jun 2010 , 5:29am by mamawrobin

ladycakes85 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:18am
post #1 of 14

I started working when I was 16. It was just a job working in retail and I appreciate all that I was able to take from it. I worked there for 5 years. Then new management came through and pretty much every employee started looking for a new job. This man made everybody's life miserable. (He ended up getting arrested for theft 2 years into his job with us). I got to the point where I just hated my job. I woke up one day and prayed hard that God would bring me something new. That very same night, when I clocked out from my job, I had a voicemail. It was a local grocery store wanting to interview me. I had applied for a similar cashiering job. They asked me if I would want to work in the bakery. I told him I would get back with him. I had no experience in the bakery. All I knew was that I liked eating cake icon_wink.gif Well.. then I remembered my prayer and thought I would be foolish to ignore the opportunity. I called and accepted the next day. It was the best thing i've done so far in my life.

I went to college for elementary education, but switched to graphic design after realizing my favorite part was designing bulliten boards. I've always been creative, so it was a good leap. I graduated in April of 2009 with my Bachelors degree. In my final art show, two of my pieces involved cakes. I designed a postage stamp featuring a wedding cake to be used on wedding invitations icon_wink.gif And I made a logo, business card and envelop set for a bakery I made up. The more I went through my classes at school, the more I realized I wanted to do cakes. At first I felt like a failure and that I had wasted my time and money going to school for art. That was a stupid thought. I gained so many elements of design that I can apply to my cakes. I'm always finding myself thinking back to something I learned in school. In many ways, I think it was a big advantage.

Sorry this story is jumping around so much, I'm just trying to collect my thoughts. Well, the job at the grocery store has been great. I always loved the fact that going to work excited me. My favorite part of the day was/is completing the customers cake orders. There is nothing like having the person pick up their cake and oooh and ahhh over how much they love it icon_smile.gif Well, part of my job is also keeping our display cases stocked with cakes. It always excited me knowing that each cake was a new canvas. I had free reign over the decorating. Whereas my co-workers would have a rack full of cakes with half of them looking the same, my rack would have a different design on every cake.

Well, I've always thought fondant looked so cool, but the store where I work doesn't use it. I decided not to let that stop me. I was going to teach myself, and that's what i've been doing. I'm having so much fun. I love learning! I want to try gumpaste/sugarpaste/modeling chocolate... and to think of all the endless possibilities out there! Whoo!

The thing is. I want to work at a real bakery. I want to have custom orders. I want to learn how to do wedding cakes. I want to learn new techniques from people who have mastered them. I want to be able to use fondant at work. I want to be challenged. There just isn't a place to do it. I live in a small community. About an hour north of Indy. There is one lady who does cakes in my county. She's an older lady and doesn't use fondant either. There is so much potential out there, but it feels like it's out of my grasp. I'd be willing to travel to a larger city, but the bakeries never seem to be hiring. I guess I just need to trust in God again and pray that he will lead me to the next opportunity. He's never failed me yet icon_smile.gif

13 replies
step0nmi Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:36am
post #2 of 14

wow! sounds like you've gone through a whirlwind of thoughts there icon_wink.gif I think I know EXACTLY where you live too! Only because my sister lives in a city that is also 1 hour from Indy icon_wink.gif

IMO, even though you have been working the bakery job and are not completely satisfied...you should stick with the bakery while you learn. Start teaching yourself techniques you find through this site and even take the Wilton course or other courses you can find in your area. The economy is really bad right now and as a recent graduate I WISH I was in your position. There is a lot of work that goes into planning a business or working with a custom ordered cake shop. Give yourself time to do your research but in the meantime facilitate the opportunity to move up in the cake world. Maybe if you explain to your bakery that you will be taking the proper classes to learn things they will be more accepting to the thought of using fondant on their cakes icon_wink.gif Good luck! icon_biggrin.gif

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:38am
post #3 of 14

We should start a club. I'm in the same boat. I want to do more and I know I'm capable of it, but the opportunities just aren't there.

Plus it doesn't help that my state won't allow me to sell cakes from home. So I'm kinda stuck in the grocery store bakery, where quantity rules over quality.

JCE62108 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:54am
post #4 of 14

Wow. You just made me feel really stupid. In a good way, though. lol.

I have the same passion...and a similar story. I worked at a grocery store for over two years making cakes. Mostly birthday cakes with airbrushed backgrounds and plastic toys. A few wedding cakes and fancier things. Rarely fondant. Only twice, actually. I wanted to learn more so bad. I started looking for information online and found this site. You would not believe some of the things Im able to create with only 3 years experience. This site IS a blessing. This is your source for so much knowledge and support.

I started taking on some orders for family and friends after I was laid off from the bakery I worked at. It got out of hand, and I have at least one or two orders a weekend now. I dont really want to do things this way, for one thing it's illegal, and another it's taking over my house and family life. I live about an hour from a very large city, and there are many opportunuties for me there. I guess I feel stupid because I havent pursued any of it. I guess I havent because 60-90 minutes one way is kind of rough, and I also have a two year old to take care of, and one on the way. However, when we move in a few months I plan on taking full advantage of my opportunities. We will be moving 10 minutes from Orlando, FL and I know I can find something there without worrying about such a commute.

I hope you find something. I know small town living. (Say, nearly anywhere in VA? ugh. miserable.) It can be rough to find something. In the meantime, just know that this site can teach you nearly anything you wish....that and youtube, of course. icon_smile.gif

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:08am
post #5 of 14

Any custom bakeries near me are about 40 minutes away too. I don't mind early morning hours, but just knowing that I have a 40 minute commute in front of me is kinda rough. Right now I'm 7 minutes from my grocery store job and I love that. Hubby loves that too.

I'm holding onto the hope that the next house we buy will have a large detached garage that I can convert to a kitchen. That is legal in my state. I actually think it would be fun to do cupcakes and cookies rather than large cakes. Well, maybe some large cakes, but mostly cuppies and cookies.

Dream a little dream. . .

mbark Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:11am
post #6 of 14

I too started decorating cakes in a grocery store bakery & totally understand how creativity is stifled. There just isn't a budget or time to let you have fun & create to your heart's desire.
Once I finished college I got a M-F 9-5 type job at an insurance company because I hated not being able to spend weekends with my family or go to weekend events, as you know the weekend is super busy at the store!
Like others posts, I too have learned SO much from CC on working with fondant, stacking cakes etc & have done it all on my own & from home. I still have my insurance job but have promoted to a field position so have more flexibility to do cakes.
My advice would be to start trying new things with fondant & stacked cakes at home, for friends or family events until you get good enough where you could open a bakery or do an in-home bakery depending on where you live. That is my dream too, good luck to you!

ArtsyLady Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:15am
post #7 of 14

I completely understand where you are coming from! I worked in a grocery store bakery for eight years and only left last week. What I will tell you is that I learned ALOT from my experience in the grocery store. While we didn't use fondant or do any of the more high-end cakes, they did give me a little bit of freedom with the sheet cakes. I used the internet (mostly CC and YouTube) to teach myself whatever I wanted to know about cakes and I practiced a lot on cakes for family and friends. The cool thing about grocery store bakeries is that you can do whatever you want to fill the cases. I found lots of ways to make our cakes stand out from the competition by experimenting with different colors and designs and pretty soon I built up a base of loyal customers. About a month ago I was transferred to another store location and my customers followed me! It was so nice knowing how much they trusted me. The problem was that my new location was about an hour from my home and I just couldn't drive that far everyday. So, as of last week, I'm officially free of the grocery store business and my husband and I are looking into opening our own bakery. icon_smile.gif In my opinion, you should stick with your current job, especially if you love it, and learn all you can. I don't regret my years with the store and all the things I learned there. icon_smile.gif Good luck to you!

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:28am
post #8 of 14

It's funny how I've heard a few times now that "at least I had the freedom of doing what I wanted for the case." At my job the cake case is VERY structured. Even down to the color combinations. We are to have 2 buttercream half sheets with flowers, two with balloons, two with any geometric design (all have specific pictures that we're to follow), then 2 whipped half sheets with flowers, two with balloons, two with geometric. For the round cakes we can only use the three gumpaste flowers that we offer on buttercream cakes, we only put them on whipped cakes if someone orders it. Any character cupcakes have to be done exactly as they're pictured and we can only use a list of color combinations provided. Our regional director was in the other day and was pointing out how we incorrectly labeled the cakes. The price tag is supposed to reach the extreme bottom of the box and not be folded over the top so people can see what the item is. And the stickers that tell what cake flavor and type of icing is supposed to go to the right of the price label, not the left.

You get the idea.

mbark Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:31am
post #9 of 14

micro-managing at its finest. yikes.

ArtsyLady Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:53am
post #10 of 14

Whoa and I really thought I had it tough! I mean, at my store we had to have all the variety of sizes and flavors available at all times and they did have a certain way we were supposed to label everything but as far as decorating they left it up to me. Our case was pretty big and I also had to do all the dessert cakes (red velvet, german choc., etc) as well as cookies, brownies, cupcakes and the like. As the only decorator it was sometimes hard to keep up. Our DM would come in and say we needed more of this or we needed to move this table here or whatever but he really didn't care what the cakes looked like as long as the cases and tables were full. That would totally suck having no freedom at all! Bless your heart.

ladycakes85 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 8:05pm
post #11 of 14

Thanks guys icon_smile.gif Yeah. I'm definitely not going to quit. Especially in this economy. I was just saying I wish I could move onto an actual bakery setting for awhile before I can someday hopefully have my own business.

I cannot imagine having to stick to the same designs and colors all the time! That would be so boring and take all the fun out of it. Wow. I admire you. I don't think I could last at a place like that. Our boss is more concerned with the deli operations instead of the bakery, so she pretty much lets us handle all the decision making, and encourages me to design new cakes. She appreciates the variety icon_smile.gif

And, you're also right. I LOVE Cake Central. I don't even remember how I came upon it, but it's been such a wonderful addiction icon_wink.gif There are soo many decorators to admire on here, and the inspiration is out of this world.


Thanks guys! icon_wink.gif

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 8:30pm
post #12 of 14

I came upon cake central because I was getting bored with decorating at my job (imagine that!!!) so I thought I would practice baking bakes at home since my job was only decorating. So I googled some cake recipes and one of the links brought me here. What a wealth of information!

Yes I so wish I could be in a real bakery setting. There was a gelatto store that opened in my town a couple years back that offered cakes too. She had a few wedding cakes on display. But the store didn't last long.

The good thing about having such rules about what can go in the case and what can't is that it makes my job really easy. I could do those cakes in my sleep! I am able to do some really fun stuff for my family, but those have been less than perfect. Sometimes I want to do a real pretty floral buttercream cake for one of them because then I know it will look amazing. Buttercream is a breeze for me. I did do that for my mother in law's birthday this year because she never asks for cake. I made her a buttercream floral and she LOVED it. I got to use a diamond impression mat that hubby gave me for my birthday! SO much fun!

JCE62108 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 8:50pm
post #13 of 14

The store I worked at sounds kind of similar. We had to have a certain amount of floral cakes, ballons, streamers, etc. I used to get in trouble though, for putting different flowers on the cakes. I started putting buttercream orchids, pansies, carnations, daffodils, and other flowers. My boss came up and looked at a carnation cake I did. She was like, " That is a really ugly rose." yeah, because it's not a rose, it's a carnation. "oh, well customers dont like those, they like roses. Dont do any of those other flowers you've been doing because people dont know what they are and they dont like them. Just do roses". Oh really? I just took an order for a carnation cake and a daffodil cake today. My cakes have been flying off the shelves and none of them have gone out of date. "Well people like roses better. So just do it." Every now and then I would try to sneak a different cake in the case just to spite her. lol. It usually sold before she even saw it. I did learn a lot though. It gave me my start. I had no clue Id love this so much when I started. For what experience they did give me, Im greatful.

mamawrobin Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 5:29am
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

The store I worked at sounds kind of similar. We had to have a certain amount of floral cakes, ballons, streamers, etc. I used to get in trouble though, for putting different flowers on the cakes. I started putting buttercream orchids, pansies, carnations, daffodils, and other flowers. My boss came up and looked at a carnation cake I did. She was like, " That is a really ugly rose." yeah, because it's not a rose, it's a carnation. "oh, well customers dont like those, they like roses. Dont do any of those other flowers you've been doing because people dont know what they are and they dont like them. Just do roses". Oh really? I just took an order for a carnation cake and a daffodil cake today. My cakes have been flying off the shelves and none of them have gone out of date. "Well people like roses better. So just do it." Every now and then I would try to sneak a different cake in the case just to spite her. lol. It usually sold before she even saw it. I did learn a lot though. It gave me my start. I had no clue Id love this so much when I started. For what experience they did give me, Im greatful.




This happened at my grocery store bakery job as well. I started doing cakes for the case with some of the same designs as my cakes. I'd do stripes on the sides of the sheet cakes and polka dots ets. on the top. Like you I would do different flowers on cakes and the same thing with my cakes....they would sell faster than any of the "standard" cakes that they always made. Roses...shell border. I'd even do a "buttercream version of the fondant ball borders on some of my cakes. People LOVED having a different style of cake to choose from. I left that job in December of last year and went to work in a bakery that specializes in custom cakes. I love my new job thumbs_up.gif

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