I had a small liscensed cake business out of my home kitchen. It started slow as I only used word of mouth. A year after I started it, I got pregnant. Knowing how much time and effort went into every cake I knew there'd be no way I could do that and take care of a baby. Plus I wasn't really making any money. I spent as much time as needed to make each cake perfect. So I wasn't paying myself for all that time I put into it. And I'd spend a lot of time on thinking about and coming up with the concept for the cake as well. My DH was so supportive, creating my website and designing my logo. It didn't bother him that I wasn't making much money. Fortunately we didn't "need" the extra money. I loved the affirmation I got from everybody telling me how beautiful my cakes were and how great they tasted. But I was hating other things besides not charging enough. The time it took away from my family (I also have a 9yo), waiting around for people to come pick up their cakes, getting my kitchen dirty, dirty dishes and clean up... I know you all know about that. I really wished I had a seperate space to do cakes so I could keep my kitchen clean or make my family dinner without having to work around all the cake stuff. Plus everyone that comes to pick up a cake, sees my kitchen, so it really needs to look clean at all times.
I stopped doing cakes when I was about 4 months pregnant. I couldn't see putting any more time into building a business that I wasn't planning to continue after the baby came. So I ended up turning customers away and telling them that I wasn't doing cakes anymore. Now my baby is 5.5 months old and I'm really missing making cakes. There was such a sense of pride in the completed cake.
I don't know what I'm hoping to get out of this post. Maybe someone who's BTDT. I'm still breastfeeding so I don't see myself getting back into it right at this moment but as she gets older. Any thoughts on how to get back into it? Do I email/ call my previous customers? How do I explain a fairly large price increase? How do you other home bakers keep your kitchen in order between family meals and cake stuff? Any thoughts or advice is so appreciated.
Any thoughts on how to get back into it? Do I email/ call my previous customers? How do I explain a fairly large price increase? How do you other home bakers keep your kitchen in order between family meals and cake stuff? Any thoughts or advice is so appreciated.
I'd say, since you haven't been away from it that long, it should be easy to jump back in. It wouldn't hurt to email your previous customers, and make it known on your website that you're accepting orders again.
You never need to explain your prices, or price increases to anyone... if they like your cakes they'll continue getting them.
When your kitchen is being used for cake projects--order a pizza. If the family has nowhere to eat, send them outside to the patio with their pizza or let them eat in the living room on occasion. (sounds like your hubby would help out with the dishes and cleaning of the kitchen after your work is done, especially since he didn't mind the mess when you were doing cakes!) Good luck when you're ready.
I can relate to what you're saying, I'm in a similar situation, and was thinking of starting a new thread to ask other ladies who have young families/babies, and are working from home, how they manage with all of the aspects you've just mentioned.
I am a mother of 3 boys aged 7, 6 and I have a baby boy of 14 months. I am only a beginner and have a long way to go before I'm at the stage of websites and price hikes etc, and ATM am making one cake a week at cost price through word of mouth. Mostly for family /friends, but the orders seem to be snowballing, and from every cake I deliver to a party/event, a new order is generated, and I have had lovely feedback on how the cakes taste and presentation.
Like yourself, I am also breastfeeding my son still, and it does at times pose a problem when doing the cakes. Most of the time I can only do the cakes after the kids have gone to bed, but if the baby is teething (which seems like all the time ATM!!) he wakes frequently during the evening, and needs to be fed to get back to sleep, so it interrupts what I'm doing, and sometimes at a crucial moment!
Yes, I know that's an issue I will have to address! He really needs to be weaned from B/F.
The kitchen space is also a major issue for me, and it is tricky to juggle it all with the family's needs.
Is delivery of cakes a feasable option for you? That way, people won't have to see your kitchen, you could just leave the mess and sort it when you get back from delivery? You could do a flat rate delivery charge within a certain distance/area, or you could just work it in with the cost of the cake itself, and tell customers you do free delivery within a certain area/distance. For some reason that seems to appeal to people, when they hear "free delivery!"
The previous reply sounds like good advice, I like the pizza idea, I will have to try this myself! Since most cake orders are usually for a weekend event and usually a Saturday, a bit of pizza on a Friday night wouldn't hurt, the kids would love it!
I usually bake wed night, torte/fill cover Thurs, and decorate Fri night. Although for a more detailed cake/stacked cake I would push that back a day.
You could start slowly when you're ready by doing word of mouth for a couple of months, just to get back on the horse, and set yourself a goal of a certain date after that, to email previous customers and update your website.
I'd have to say that personally, even with the problems I have with time issues and kitchen space etc, I absolutely love what I do, and it's worth coming back home to a bit of kitchen mess after delivery! I'm willing to put up with the little problems of home baking for the amazing satisfaction I get from that finished cake!
Like you said, that sense of pride in what you do is very fulfilling, and I'm sure you will be starting to miss it.
Start slow for a short time, just to satisfy that itch, and see how it goes, you'll get to where you need to be with it when you're ready.
I wish you all the best with it, good luck!
When you are ready, write something on your website that says 'Grand Re-Opening!'
Send previous customers an email with a subject something like, "CMS2 Bakery Grand Re-Opening". Offer a coupon in that email to your previous customers. You could actually have 2 coupons in the email, one for them and one for them to give to a friend. The one for previous customer could be just a bit better. You could also do some kind of limited-time referral; that would give customers the incentive to tell their friends about you. Maybe the coupon that previous customer gives to her friend could have a place where the customer can write her name before giving to her friend, then when the coupon is redeemed by the new person, the customer would get something special, such as a discount or a dozen basic cupcakes or whatever.
Print up posters about your grand re-opening and hang them places around town.
Congrats on your baby!
It's hard to juggle babies and cakes, but you can do it. The previous posters gave some good suggestions, but the best suggestions might be to wait a little longer until the baby is older before you get back into it on a full schedule.
Maybe do it part time now, and remember that it isn't a bad thing to turn business down. Once you have all the cakes that you can handle easily scheduled for a certain day, do NOT take any more orders for that day. If you tell people that they need to place orders well in advance they'll be trained to do that, and you'll look more in-demand. Just don't overschedule yourself and you should be fine.
I learned the hard way about rushing back in to cakes...
Last summer was a blur and I missed sooo much..
So this summer, I made sure I didn't take on too many cakes.
The money part is great but the messy kitchen, hot days, toddler running around, and people who wanted masterpiece cakes with walmart prices....cakes aren't as fun as they use to be..
BUT I love, love wedding cakes! Go figure, a lot of people find wedding cakes stressful and i'm in my happy place when I am working on one.
So, please take your time and don't rush back- there will always be someone who needs cake.
Raise your prices, and be selective about the orders you accept. Your time is precious, and you should only do the cakes that fit into your schedule and mind-set. (Maybe do one cake every week or two, if that suits you.)
The kids are only small once, and will be grown and gone before you know it. Enjoy them.
Good luck to you.
You are so luck to live in a state where you can be licensed out of your home and use the same kitchen that you use for family meals and food prep and still be able to do your cakes.
Enjoy your time with the baby - they grow up way too fast.
I see that you've gotten some really good responses already, so far. But, I couldn't help but add my 2 cents anyway!
Honey, I've been there, done that, 2 times over!! I've learned so many lessons and am still learning them as I go. I have 2 kids; 5 and 2, and a full time job as well, and I do cakes on the side. I had to struggle through a couple of burnouts before I realized that the key to balance is setting limits. Understand what you can handle, wether it's one cake a week or one a month. My problem is I have "Go big, or go home" mentality. I always think I always have to be the biggest and the best, and cakes are my passion so I naturally wanted to go full force. I would pile on the orders only to be left feeling so drained and like a lousey mom!! I was letting the business control me instead of the other way around. I started caking again about a year ago. I set my prices higher and only allow 2 cakes a week and I no longer do weddings. Sometimes I take on more, if I need the money or I'm in the mood. The difference is, I feel like I am in control instead of spiraling out of it!! My mom always said, and it's true "You can have it all, but you can't have it all at the same time." I agree, though, and this sounds so weird to alot of people; there is nothing more rewarding to me than a cake well done and the reaction on the customer's face. It's so addicting!!