How Did You Guys Start With Nothing?

Decorating By Carlys-Creations Updated 2 Feb 2012 , 4:26am by mcaballero2

Carlys-Creations Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 12:25pm
post #1 of 30

Hello icon_smile.gif

Iv recently decided to start a small business from home. Im half way through the lagalities, so hope to begin January 2012.

Problem is i have nothing. Literally one baking tin! Obviously im saving up for an electric whisk, sculpture tools, varied tins and all the BASIC stuff thats essential. I will concentrate on expanding my kit once i start earning bit of money to put towards it all.

How do you do it though? Everybody at some point had no equipment, what did you do? Im not financially in a position to go out and buy everything at once, but im so eager and passionate to start this, i dont want to wait months until iv saved enough money to have everything. Im sure most things i want, i wont even need. Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Iv got a small following who are waiting for me to start making to order, after seeing cakes iv made for my close family. Thats how it all started. To make their cakes i didnt have any tools but managed. I cant just 'manage' when im taking orders of course, so whats the best way i can go about doing it?

As i mentioned in my previous thread, im considering making cakes at cost price for a few months. To build a portfolio, maybe make £5 for myself from each cake to save for equpiment.

Someone please offer me their wise words of experience icon_smile.gif xx

29 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 1:11pm
post #2 of 30

Most of us started out as hobby bakers and bought tools gradually. Buy the tools as you need them, don't just run out and buy a ton of stuff.

Vista Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 1:12pm
post #3 of 30

I think most of us have just gathered things through the years. I have been decorating for about 6 years now, and have been collecting little by little. A lot of things I got because I needed it for a specific cake, or just because it was on sale. My family has been gifting me cake stuff for years too, birthdays, holidays, etc.

MCurry Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 1:17pm
post #4 of 30

I started out as a hobby baker then changed careers into baking. What I did first was purchased things a little at a time or when the ordered required it. My first pans were 6, 8 & 9 then 10 inch since they seemed to be used most. Then I got a kitchen aid stand mixer. I also used coupons and checked for sales to offset the cost of items.

During holidays and birthdays I also would ask for gift cards and specific items to help grow my inventory.

Also, while you may not have a lot of upfront cash to get a lot of items at once, depending on where you are, many items you purchase should be eligible for a tax write off for your business.

Congrats and best of luck!

ButRCream Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 1:50pm
post #5 of 30

Coupons, coupons, coupons!! icon_smile.gif Coupons quickly became my best friend when purchasing items a little along! Even then, it's still pricey when you add everything up - so just try to go at it a little at a time, but the coupons help immensely! Also, put the word out to friends and family that you're wanting to collect tins and tools - once people heard of my interest, I inherited quite a few baking tins icon_smile.gif

lissyUK Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 1:59pm
post #6 of 30

My first mixer was lent by a family member when i was hobbying. Do you have anyone who could lend you one for a few months?

another thing is ebay. It's an excellent way to pick up cheap things to get you started.

Where are you based? There's a big cake company near me that leases out specific pans for a few days at a time - it's only a few pounds per tin.

Supermarkets are also a good option. They have baking aisles with basic tins etc.

Good luck - It's such an exciting venture to start out on!

Carlys-Creations Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 2:36pm
post #7 of 30

Thanks everyone for the great replies! icon_smile.gif

Family all know about my new venture so i assume i will be getting a few baking gifts this Christmas icon_biggrin.gif My close family arnt really into baking so dont have much to pass onto me.

Do you think a good idea would be for me to just buy 10" + 8" + 6" tins to start? Only offer these sizes at cost price for a few months (while adding £5 for myself, just to put away in a pot and save). Plus cake boards, boxes, paste colours, fondant & sugarpaste, lustre dust, floral wires, and a few cutters. That would start me off just fine i think, and with those things i could make a variety of creations.

I figure this way, i dont have to worry about unexpected huge orders that i cant do, because i dont have the bakeware.

Then, as i slowly build up a fund, i can go and get more tins etc? I know a lot of people arnt fans of offering cakes at cost price because it starts something thats hard to climb back up from. But i am so excited about starting all these new projects il have, and i love doing it so much that price isnt an issue for me at the moment. Aslong as they are paying for what the cake cost me to make, then im happy being able to create, while building a portfolio too.

mrslivvix Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 2:54pm
post #8 of 30

I actually have found several pans at garage sales or auctions or even the thrift stores. Some in great shape and others in not great shape but workable. Look online on Craigs list or somewhere maybe a biz might have closed and they are selling stuff.

MCurry Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 3:02pm
post #9 of 30

If you can afford to I would suggest you go ahead and buy the pans. The 8 & 10 inch would more than likely get used 1st unless you get a tiered cake and then will need the 6 inch.

As far as offering cakes at cost I completely understand where you are coming from. I started off charging a little more than cost for friends. However, I did let them know what the "retail" cost would be and noted the discount on the invoice. What I told them is they were getting a discount in the event that people who attended their events would become potential customers. It worked and I got orders from people who attended their event. They were charged "retail" not the discount. Both groups are still customers.

My recommendation is to consider charging a little more than cost to help you get the supplies you need.

jgifford Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 3:09pm
post #10 of 30

Since I only do a couple of cakes a week, I haven't invested in a lot of commercial equipment. My mixer is a portable with a stand (Christmas gift quite a few years ago) and the rest I've bought a little at a time.

Over the years, I have become the queen of improvisation. I raid my DH's tool box regularly - - it's amazing how well his tools work with cakes. icon_smile.gif

It was years before I bought any cake boards - - I made my own from whatever wasn't nailed down.

So you don't have to have a lot of expensive equipment to start - - yay!

tiggy2 Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 3:41pm
post #11 of 30

I wouldn't sell for cost just to get orders. ou'll work yourself to death and wont make any money to buy more supplies. Set your prices, get 50% deposit at time of order and balance due 2 weeks prior to delivery. By doing this you will have the funds needed to purchase supplies and complete each order. After a few orders you might even begin to start building up a slush fund.

BeccaW40 Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 4:33pm
post #12 of 30

I'm still fairly new....started in 2010 when I was in a cast. I found coupons, and hit up wal-mart. Then I borrowed a mixer, and informed everyone to give me cake tools for gifts....it worked!!! I also did alot of bargain shopping online. It helps if you have a little extra money, when you see a clearance sale, to pick up items because eventually you will use them, and believe it or not there are numerous things in your kitchen, under your baker's nose, that can be used as decorating tools...such as a long handled metal spoon, use the handle for impressions on a planter pot...I have called upon the Cake Yoda for inspiration....Good luck....and 1st and foremost A happy Baker is A Successful Baker....thats my motto!!!

ReneeFLL Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 5:18pm
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiggy2

I wouldn't sell for cost just to get orders. ou'll work yourself to death and wont make any money to buy more supplies. Set your prices, get 50% deposit at time of order and balance due 2 weeks prior to delivery. By doing this you will have the funds needed to purchase supplies and complete each order. After a few orders you might even begin to start building up a slush fund.




I totally agree with this, but when figuring out cost you must also take into account the electricity used for the oven, mixer, more ac to cool the warm kitchen, etc. Always add in every little thing such as flavoring, salt even if it is only a teaspoons worth, use of tins, etc because you will have to buy more and it all adds up.

Sorelle Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 6:18pm
post #14 of 30

I Found most of my stuff on ebay, there are a lot of caking goodies on there for super great prices. I have found my airbrush system which I bought on ebay for $50.00 from a retired baker to be my most valuable purchase. I can turn a simple cake into something really special, and a sculpted cake into a work of art with 10 min. and my airbrush. Definitely check out ebay for everything from cake pans to ingredients! Good for you for taking the right steps with the legalities and Good Luck! I'm looking forward to seeing your work!icon_smile.gif

soledad Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 6:36pm
post #15 of 30

Carlys... check these threads, there are some things you might already have at home, that you could use for cake decorating.

I also like to mention that I notice lissyUK is from your area.

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-8964-unusual.html+tools

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-10052-unusual.html+tools

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=/modules&name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=726016&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Has anyone any idea what happened to the UK bakers thread? icon_confused.gif

Good luck thumbs_up.gif
CIAO

argylealice Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 6:38pm
post #16 of 30

Hi good luck with your new venture.if you have a tk max shop near by they do a great range of baking tins at reasonable prices,they also have a few tools and usually a good selection of cutters.stock varies from week to week so you have to keep popping in.also a good site in the uk for tools and edible supplies is cake-stuff.com they also sell on ebay.i bought my kenwood chef second hand off ebay and i wouldent be without it.hope this helps

AnnieCahill Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 7:28pm
post #17 of 30

I started when I was verrrry young so I have quite a stockpile. Here are a few tips:

1. Invest in quality bakeware. I use Magic Line pans and you can feel the difference and see it when the cakes are baked. I bought mine in a set on Amazon, sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14.

2. Buy a set of cake strips because these help your cake bake very evenly and they also protect the "crust."

3. No need to buy a stand mixer for now. I have had a stand mixer for years and honestly I almost like using a hand mixer better.

4. Get a basic decorating tip set for buttercream decorating. I have three tip sets and I always go back to the same ones. Look for ones that are basic: leaf tips, star tips, and round tips.

5. If you decorate with fondant, get a couple of fondant smoothers. Here is a good tip for fondant tools. Go to a store that sells craft or art supplies, and look at clay modeling tools. I got a set of dirt cheap plastic clay modeling tools and I only spent $3. They work just fine. You just have to make sure they are non-toxic/food safe.

6. Wilton makes a gumpaste flower set that has all different kinds of cutters in it. Not sure if you can get it in the UK but maybe you can see if popular UK cake decorating brands have something similar.

I would start with the basics and then go from there. I definitely don't recommend selling at cost because you aren't really earning anything by doing that. You need to earn money for your time as well as any supplies or ingredients. You also need to think about water, electric, etc.

SweetDelites Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 7:29pm
post #18 of 30

I stay at Micheals with coupons every week, sometimes everyday of the week. My mother and DH buy items when the come across them. Just do it little by little at a time,you will get there.

KoryAK Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 8:35pm
post #19 of 30

Please don't take this the wrong way, but if you don't have ANY tools then I wonder if you have gotten enough practice in to start selling cakes? Did you maybe work for another bakery and get your experience there? I'm just curious (since you have no pix on here)...

I started the way many of the pp's said: just buy what you need for each cake and try to be as thrifty and multi-use as possible. Pretty soon you'll have lots of stuff.

Carlys-Creations Posted 28 Nov 2011 , 9:21pm
post #20 of 30

Thank you all VERY much for such helpful replies! icon_smile.gif

I LOVE the 'retail' cost idea, that sounds absolutely perfect, thank you! I think i will do this to start, maybe for the first 3 months.

Thanks to everyone, all your advice has been really helpful and im grateful to you all icon_smile.gif

jgifford, my gosh i know exactly what you mean! I have been improvising so much too! I used anything i could think of to make my cakes and figures as i didnt have any tools. It was all well and good, and did me just fine, but obviously i cant do this if i plan on selling them i know icon_lol.gif

KoryAK, my first post on here was a big essay explaining everything but it didnt get replies as it was just a huge post, so i edited it and removed the pictures! I havnt made any cakes for anyone outside my very close family. In a nutshell, i found i had a talent from a young age at handcrafting anything i could get my hands on, drawing & painting etc. I have a great passion for art & deign icon_smile.gif

On a whim, i decided a year ago to make my daughters birthday cake, and since, have made a few more for my family. They created a great responce from friends on my Facebook and people in my area, but i want interested in making it into a living until just last month. Since then i have been doing nothing but research, research, research. I would love to get in the kitchen and make cakes to have more photos to show, but i just cant afford to.. so this is why i considered the 'cost price' option. I guess cake making is something that comes naturally to me, something im very confident in, which is very unlike me as im so self critisising! icon_smile.gif

Iv made dozens of sugarpaste characters & accesories which i absolutely love doing too. I will get pictures on here as soon as i have built up more of a variety, as i have made novelty cakes with toppers up until now, which doesnt show any elegance or varied work i can do. I dont want to be the character lady icon_lol.gif

Taking pieces from everybodies replies, i think what i will do then is go ahead and get the 10" + 8" + 6" tins, a few 'tools' and equipment, then wait for my certificates and ensure im 100% lagal, and start in January 2012. Very excited! icon_biggrin.gif xx

scp1127 Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 4:22am
post #21 of 30

On the tools, especially if you are in business, should never be used because the are not food safe.

Ebay has many use pans, but Amazon is almost as good on pricing.

Noobz Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 7:14am
post #22 of 30

I would look on ebay for pans, they have professional quality ones for much less than invicta prices, also take it slow. You have to build up your tools etc but things do get expensive. Write a list of what you think you need any maybe buy a couple of things every month, or one thing a week. Don't buy every single thing you want though, lustre dust, pearls, impression moulds and all the cool stuff we want to buy isn't your priority now.

I've been doing this for over a year and I still haven't got everyhing I 'want' but most of the things I need. I still don't have an 8" pan! Like you I didn't have the money to buy everything up front but I still had about £1000 saved which i've since used up. Every little thing adds up and with p&p it sometimes hurts lol It is good though because i've been able to practice the whole time and I realise how naive I was when I initially thought about starting a business.

There is a lot to think about but the thing that stopped me charging low was that I would build customers who wanted cheap cakes and that wasn't something I wanted to maintain, especially after I went through the cost of my cakes including electricty, time, labour, ingredients, colours, boards etc etc etc.

If you are charging as low as you are it might take a while but I understand why you aren't charging more.

Carlys-Creations Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 9:56am
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

On the tools, especially if you are in business, should never be used because the are not food safe.

Ebay has many use pans, but Amazon is almost as good on pricing.




Oh yes deffinately, i wont be making any cakes or selling untili have appropriate tools etc. Things i used to make for my close family wernt building tools though, just things like washed cups to create circles, things like that icon_smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobz

I would look on ebay for pans, they have professional quality ones for much less than invicta prices, also take it slow. You have to build up your tools etc but things do get expensive. Write a list of what you think you need any maybe buy a couple of things every month, or one thing a week. Don't buy every single thing you want though, lustre dust, pearls, impression moulds and all the cool stuff we want to buy isn't your priority now.

I've been doing this for over a year and I still haven't got everyhing I 'want' but most of the things I need. I still don't have an 8" pan! Like you I didn't have the money to buy everything up front but I still had about £1000 saved which i've since used up. Every little thing adds up and with p&p it sometimes hurts lol It is good though because i've been able to practice the whole time and I realise how naive I was when I initially thought about starting a business.

There is a lot to think about but the thing that stopped me charging low was that I would build customers who wanted cheap cakes and that wasn't something I wanted to maintain, especially after I went through the cost of my cakes including electricty, time, labour, ingredients, colours, boards etc etc etc.

If you are charging as low as you are it might take a while but I understand why you aren't charging more.




This makes perfect sense, i completely relate to this. People have been trying to rush me into making cakes to order for almost a year now but i have said no, explained i am not confident enough. Now that i have recently decided it is something i want to do, i am taking it very slow. Iv spent most of my time just researching at home, checking out the business aspect of it all as i dont want to rush in and fall on my face. I understand theres a lot more to it than thinking im good at making cakes, jumping in and selling them, its not a highly profitable job but that suits me fine as i want to do it because its something i love icon_smile.gif Iv never found what i felt right doing, and this feels right. I always wanted to do something with creativity, so this is just perfect. The idea of new projects to work on each week excites me, i really cant wait! It is expensive though, and if it takes me months to build up a half decent decorators kit, then i will wait. January 2012 is a goal time, but im not hell bent on starting at that exact time, i would just love to because having no cakes to make right now is driving me mad icon_lol.gif

My family informed me yesterday that i will be having money and bakeware for Christmas! I am very grateful, this means i should be able to get a nice kit started.

Things i need and will get first are;

10" + 8" + 6" tins.
Electric whisk.
Kitchen scales.
Silicone rolling pin (i have a wooden one but its not great).
Floral wires.
Fondant/sugarpaste.
Colouring pastes.
Cake bords & Cake boxes.
Smoother.
Tilted spatula.

Cutters and all the rest of it can wait until i can afford them icon_smile.gif

Noobz Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 12:10pm
post #24 of 30

You sound like you've thought this all out! Good for u dude icon_cool.gif

When I don't have a cutter I google 'such and such by hand', or 'without cutters', theres usually someone who has a blog or on a forum explaining it. I've managed to make a good few flowers and models with just a few circle cutters!

allaboutcakeuk Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 12:39pm
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by soledad

Carlys... check these threads, there are some things you might already have at home, that you could use for cake decorating.

I also like to mention that I notice lissyUK is from your area.

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-8964-unusual.html+tools

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-10052-unusual.html+tools

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=/modules&name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=726016&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Has anyone any idea what happened to the UK bakers thread? icon_confused.gif

Good luck thumbs_up.gif
CIAO




Hi yeah she is from the UK and we still have the UK bakers thread going. Is a good thread too icon_smile.gif

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopicp-7237607-.html#7237607

hope this link works icon_smile.gif

JanH Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 2:29pm
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by soledad

Has anyone any idea what happened to the UK bakers thread? icon_confused.gif




Searched using UK and Bakers. icon_smile.gif

A Thread for all UK bakers!!
(Cupcakes forum.)

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=622656&highlight=uk+bakers

Uk bakers
(Cake Decorating forum.)

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=712966&highlight=uk+bakers

There were others, but I don't have time right now to list them all.....

HTH

Carlys-Creations Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 2:41pm
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobz

You sound like you've thought this all out! Good for u dude icon_cool.gif

When I don't have a cutter I google 'such and such by hand', or 'without cutters', theres usually someone who has a blog or on a forum explaining it. I've managed to make a good few flowers and models with just a few circle cutters!




Great idea thanks for that! icon_smile.gif

Thanks to those who have told me about the UK bakers thread, il take a look now x

luvmysmoother Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 3:52pm
post #28 of 30

Try to buy quality over quantity. I learned that lesson the hard wayicon_smile.gif Don't be tempted by stuff on sale if you know you'll rarely use it.

jgifford Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 3:57pm
post #29 of 30

I still say that anything is fair game. scp1127 said "On the tools, especially if you are in business, should never be used because the are not food safe."

Not to worry - I went to my brother who is a dentist and got him to teach me how to sterilize things without an autoclave. Sterile is sterile, whether it's intended for food or not. icon_smile.gif

mcaballero2 Posted 2 Feb 2012 , 4:26am
post #30 of 30

When I started my home based business I put out the money for a small number of pans and ingredients. To make up the expense for the pans, I charged about half retail cost for the first wedding cake (but made sure to let them know they were getting a discount because I was building my portfolio). I buy my pans from globalsugarart.com. They have magic line pan sets of about 5-7 pans for a little over $60. After my first few cakes, I then started charging retail price and used my profit to buy more inventory. Say I made $200 profit off of a wedding cake, I'd use that money to buy more tools. My main passion lies in gum paste flower making and to keep costs down you can get mold making kits and make your own molds for a fraction of the cost. Buying ingredients in bulk and making your own frostings/fondant/mixes (depending on your recipes) will save you money as well.

There's nothing wrong with charging cost price, just make sure to include the reason for the discount on the customer's receipt/contract to avoid problems with raising prices in the future. I would charge a little above cost price to make up for costs you may not realize like costs of using your oven, water, paper towels, toothpicks, etc so that you don't lose any money.

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