Many of the famous cakers...I assume the brides come to them and say "Here are my colors...here is my theme...I want something romantic yet classy..." and then the caker designs it for them.
Is that how it works?
If so...how can I get my business to that point, to where I am doing more designing and doing less of following the customer's directions?
Not that I have a problem with how I am doing right now...but it would be soooo cool if someone came up to me and said "I want you to design me a cake to go with my theme."
Is that pie in the sky or does that happen?
I started my cake business that way. I design. In the beginning I looked at a lot of pictures every single day until I got a feel for what all could be done. I can usually spot the famous designers work even now. But I rarely let a bride tell me how a cake is going to look, unless her ideas are just way better than my sketches. That's happened maybe twice in 12 years.
I sit down at the consult, we chat, I see a picture of her dress, ask about a theme, flowers, color scheme, invitations, and start sketching.
I would also like to get to that point you're talking about, Kitagrl. What I'm doing is making a lot of dummy cakes or real cakes in the styles that I like. I create my own art and then display it on facebook and in my website. I've had a customer just recently ask for one of my own designs based on the photo in facebook!
In time we all develop our own style but if you have defined it already, just put it out there! For me, I definitely market my business as a place to buy style. I also look for affiliations that reinforce my marketing plan. eg. I'm donating mini cupcakes to a mom's event at a fashion retailer so that they will associate my products with style and fashion. I get a free plug with the organizer of the event, who is a big player in town. The only cost to me is 24 minicupakes which is a lot cheaper that other advertising! This is just one idea.
We telll the bride when they make their appointment that we have cakes on display they can look at, photos to look at, but they can also bring in ideas, pictures, wedding stationery, their dress, etc if they want us to design something for them.
I just feel them out when talking, get there ideas, ask if they are having a formal reception or a more "fun party", etc. You will usually know where to go after talking to them....whether they see something they like, or whether you need to come up with ideas just for them.
We have brides come in with what they think they want, then after seeing other possibilities, completely do a 180 and change their mind.
I offer to sketch out a cake for them, keep colored pencils nearby and even add the color to the cake sketch. Most people are visual and want to see what the cake will look like.