Hi, I'm new to the forum and I joined because I love cake decorating. I have a AA in Interior Design, but, after I graduated the economy plummeted and needless to say, I never got a job..BUT, I really am not all that interested in interior design because I THOUGHT it was a job where you just help people design their home..no, it's commission sales, it's mostly about getting them to buy the most expensive furniture and spend as much as possible (just like cars).
I took a cake decorating class at Michaels and LOVED it, so, I think I should have gone in that direction. To all of you professional cake decorators, how did you get started? What classes did you take? Did you go to a culinary school or small calsses, like at an art store?
2nd question, after taking the classes, where did you start? Did you work in a supermarket and move your way up? or just started a business from word of mouth?
I started, like many others, making cakes for my kids. I also took the wilton classes. i have no pastry school experience (heck, or college for that matter)
Once I took the classes, I gave away a TON of cakes just so I could practice. Keep in mind that before you ever sell a cake, you need to know the HD regs for your area.
After a while, I really wanted to do wedding cakes, so I used a commercial kitchen and tried my hand. I had enough inquiries for the next year that I decided to run the numbers and see what it took to open my shop. Took a lot of work, late nights, and computer time, but we've been open for 1.5 years and we've got several 2011 bookings already!
That said, cake decorating is an obsessive passion, so be forewarned. I find myself looking at a skirt in the store and thinking "that pattern would look great on a cake" or a toy and think "now how can I construct that out of cake"
I've been decorating for about 3 years now. I got a job at a warehouse club store as a cashier. Then one day the bakery said they needed some help bagging dinner rolls and I offered to help. Actually, my mom kinda volunteered me as she worked back there at the time. So I helped out that day and my mom mentioned to the manager that I went to culinary school after high school. The manager asked if I would want to transfer to the bakery because she lost a decorator recently who had thrown her back out. I said sure.
Best career move I ever made. Although I didn't learn anything about cake decorating at the culinary school I went to, I learned most of what I know now on the job. My first day, the manager had me practice making roses for cookie cakes. Just kinda moved up from there. I've only ever taken one cake decorating class (fondant and gumpaste from Wilton), but I stopped half way through, I wasn't getting as much as I thought I would get from it. Just about everything I know about buttercream, I learned on the job.
Everything else (baking, fondant, gumpaste, cookies, etc) I learned here. I practice a lot at home. What I mean by practice is that I work on gumpaste flowers in my spare time and I always offer to bring the dessert to family get togethers. My family is very insistent that I start selling cakes or open my own kitchen, but they don't realize how expensive it is to do that and that it's illegal for me to sell from my home. I keep telling and they keep insisting.
Grocery stores seem to have some kind of a stigma to them (thanks to CakeWrecks), but they're really not all that bad. Sure they are cheap cake, so the choices and options are extremely limited. My store even goes so far as to outline what color combinations are allowed in the case. They do that so you are able to concentrate more on getting the cakes done rather than "what colors should I use for this one? Hmmm. . .". Some might not be able to work like that, but I don't mind. Lets me think more about stuff I'm going to do at home! But grocery stores are a great place to learn the basics, which is very important, and to get proficient at the basics, also very important.
It might not be a bad idea to get a job at a grocery store bakery. You've already taken the classes at Wilton, so you might have a little more of a head start then someone with no experience. The grocery store I work at does nothing but sheet cakes, 10" rounds and cupcakes. You could go with a place like that or some place like Byerly's, who does large wedding cakes too. I would just go to the stores and browse their cake case. See what kind of things you like and ask yourself if you could see yourself doing 40 of those.
I am still at the grocery store, but keeping my eye out for any bakeries in town that offer the kind of stuff I want to do. I feel like I've learned all I can at the grocery store and I'm ready for the next step.
I started 9 years ago after I decided to make my son's first birthday cake...It kinda snowballed after that.Friends wanted me to make their kids cakes etc...Then I started getting requests from others and it began...I have been going ever since.I have taken countless courses etc and learned on my own by trial and error.I also have no college degree or anything just passionate about cakes!