Just Starting Out - Building A Portfolio, Use Dummy Cakes?

Business By MajesticCupcakes Updated 7 Mar 2013 , 5:33pm by SABvictim

MajesticCupcakes Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 8:35pm
post #1 of 17

I am just starting my cake business and was wondering how I should go about building a portfolio. I don't have many pictures of work to display yet. I was thinking maybe I needed to create some cakes using dummies in order to have a substanstial photo gallery. Has anyone else done this? How did you go about building yours when you were just in the beginning stages?

Also, how soon should I build a website? I live in an area with a tough market but I have noticed only a small handful of the small bakeries have websites.

16 replies
BlakesCakes Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 9:01pm
post #2 of 17

Can't help with the website, but I will say this about using dummies as an example of your work--be very, very sure that the work you do on actual cake can live up to the perfection of dummies.

Recently, someone posted about an unhappy customer. The complaint was that the customer had seen a cake in the baker's portfolio and wanted it replicated with a few minor changes in color & flower placement.

The baker thought she'd succeeded, but when the real cake was compared to the portfolio cake--a decorated dummy--it was obvious that there was a problem. Sadly, the customer was right. The real cake was not up to the standard set by that perfect dummy.


jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 9:06pm
post #3 of 17

Regarding your web site, I would set one up as soon as you are licensed and have an inspected commercial kitchen space available. (GA does not have a cottage food law so if you start advertising before you are legal you might run into trouble.)

You actually don't have to wait until you are fully legal to develop the site...it's possible to design the web site without publishing it (so you would be the only one who could see it), once you are ready to go live it would only take a minute to publish the site so it is publicly available.

redvelvet4u Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 10:59pm
post #4 of 17

I am considering the same thing with using the cake dummies. I recently discovered there is a product that looks and acts like buttercream that is made to be used on dummies. I'll find the name of the product and let you know. In the meantime, you may also want to consider a facebook page with your pictures on it. My teen daughter was able to make mine for me.

AnnieCahill Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 11:18pm
post #5 of 17

I was going to post the exact same thing as BlakesCakes, including the part about the recent post from the CC member.

If it were me, I'd wait until I have a substantial portfolio to show clients before starting the business. And definitely don't use dummies!

mystsparkle Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 11:25pm
post #6 of 17

I'm just starting out also, and have decided to offer my cake/cupcake services to friends/family for free (or if they want to offer to pay supply cost only) that way I get some practice in, and can get pictures taken to build up a portfolio.

cakestyles Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 11:29pm
post #7 of 17

Ditto what Blakescakes and AnnieCahill posted.

It's one thing to fill up your portfolio with decorated dummies, it's an entire different thing to execute that same design on a real cake.

I'm not a fan of sites filled with dummies for that very reason.

ajwonka Posted 22 Aug 2011 , 11:57pm
post #8 of 17

I made 3 tier cakes for every family occasion to build my portfolio! To this day I've only done 3 dummy cakes!

Atomikjen Posted 23 Aug 2011 , 1:45am
post #9 of 17

could you possibly make a few cakes, real ones, and decorate them and then either give them to family and friends or maybe donate them to a local soup kitchen? I'm not sure what rules apply to do the latter but ask around, maybe someone would take them so they don't get wasted.

good luck!

I've built my portfolio for years with family/friend cakes... I'm slowly but surely getting my things together to get legal. Found a kitchen, just need insurance and licensing. =D

kmstreepey Posted 23 Aug 2011 , 2:17am
post #10 of 17

Decorating on real cake is so much different than decorating on dummies. Plus, if you are beginning, it helps to have to go through the baking and all stages of the process as well just for practice. It can only make you a better decorator in the long run. There are no real shortcuts, so build your portfolio in a way that will also improve your skills with real cake.

I don't have a business, but I have been doing a lot of cakes for friends and family for free. When a friend or a friend's child is having a birthday, I offer to make the cake. Sometimes friends ask me. And for every family event (not weddings, though, which is a whole different ballgame), I offer to bring a cake. It is such good practice to be able to sit down with someone, plan out a cake, bake it and then make the plan come to life, dealing with all the little mishaps that come up. I cannot imagine dealing with an actual customer (and deadline) without having this experience ahead of time!

Good luck with your business and portfolio!

MajesticCupcakes Posted 23 Aug 2011 , 2:34am
post #11 of 17

Thanks everyone for the advice. I actually have never worked with dummies! So I am actually glad most don't like the idea. I saw on a FB page that I frequent a lot that the baker mentioned on several of the cakes I liked that they were dummy cakes. I wondered how common it was.

I have done several cakes for friends. I think I just need to be more diligent at grabbing the camera!

KimandAshlee Posted 23 Aug 2011 , 2:37am
post #12 of 17

When we first started out, we wanted more than just dummie cakes for our portfolio so we made alot of cakes for friends, schools, and we donated our cakes to anyone who would take them. We donated to the blood bank and church functions. We would actually look for events in the newspaper and call places in the yellow pages. It was a little difficult at first, but everyone was so receptive that it became easier and easier. We would set our business card out at every place we donated to. Not only does it get your name out there and build your portfolio, but how can you have a better way to advertise than to have someone taste your product and see it at the same time? As soon as we got a website, everything changed for us. A facebook page, a website....you need to use the internet and have your photos. It made such a big difference and you can put testimonials on your pages. We traded the local TV personalities free wedding cakes and event cakes for testimonials...it works!! We are now in our third year of our store with six employees and growing...and we started at our kitchen table....hope this helps icon_smile.gif and good luck to you!

Michelle84 Posted 23 Aug 2011 , 3:37am
post #13 of 17

To save your ingredients and work time, why don't you buy some plain un-iced and un-filled cakes from your local grocery store? I know I can get chocolate mud cakes and vanilla sponge from our major stores (Coles and Woolies) for as little as $4. That way you can practice filling, icing and covering with fondant as much as you want without wasting good cakes or too much money.

AliBakes6167 Posted 24 Aug 2011 , 4:48am
post #14 of 17
Originally Posted by Michelle84

To save your ingredients and work time, why don't you buy some plain un-iced and un-filled cakes from your local grocery store? I know I can get chocolate mud cakes and vanilla sponge from our major stores (Coles and Woolies) for as little as $4. That way you can practice filling, icing and covering with fondant as much as you want without wasting good cakes or too much money.

thumbs_up.gif GREAT idea!!

TexasSugar Posted 24 Aug 2011 , 2:12pm
post #15 of 17

I agree with people on the comments about the dummy cakes. Dummy cakes are hard bases, they don't bulge and they are always flat and level. Dummy cakes often look more crisp and clean than a real cake (unless you have a lot of practice.)

Something you can do though, so that you don't have to make a ton of different cakes is start with a plain jane cake and maybe put some flowers on top and a ribbon border. Take pictures. Pull the ribbon and flowers off, and take some different flowers and place those around the different edges of the cake. Take pictures. Remove those and pipe some scroll or another design on the cake and put a different topper on the cake. Take pictures.

If you think it out you can get many pictures of a cake that doesn't look exactly the same, while only having to bake one cake.

BlakesCakes Posted 24 Aug 2011 , 4:10pm
post #16 of 17

And really, getting the baking right is MORE important than the decoration...just sayin'

SABvictim Posted 7 Mar 2013 , 5:33pm
post #17 of 17

" We traded the local TV personalities free wedding cakes and event cakes for testimonials"



Small wonder they get good reviews on the media....... as contrasted to the scores of negative feedback fr paying customers.     Just an observation.     Check 'em out for yourselves.

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