Sugar_Art_Cakery Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 12:57am
post #1 of

Not sure if I'm even putting this in the right forum, if not, I apologize.

I guess I'm just venting here but I'd like to know what other members think of this. Whether you think I'm wrong or right, just let me have it straight.

I typically do labor intensive sculpted cakes for which I charge my customers a fair price. I tell them what it will cost and they pay...no muss no fuss.

Now, when a family member (on my side) says they need a cake, I charge them for supplies ONLY and donate my time. Invariably, I'm asked to do labor intensive sculpted cakes. I don't mind losing my hourly rate as they are family but I think it's fair for supplies to be paid for.

Now to clarify, I have done sculpted and regular tiered cakes for my fiance's side of the family. They INSIST on paying whatever that particular cake would cost a regular paying customer. They have stated that they understand the amount of work that goes into these cakes.

On the other hand, when I do a cake for my side of the family, they only pay for supplies (and sometimes not even that much). I'm told "that's what families do for each other."

Recently, my brother-in-law (on my side) called me and asked me to do a large Coach Purse Cake (along with Gum Paste high heels) for my sisters birthday party. I told him I would need $100 for supplies. He agreed, paid and she got an amazing cake (in my gallery). I would charge a regular customer about $400-$450 for that cake.

Now she and my b-i-l want me to do a cake for my nieces birthday next month. My niece is 17 and she wants a sculpted cake that looks like the Disney Castle along with gumpaste figures of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Snow White....etc. I told her that she would need to pay $150 for supplies as this is a LARGE cake but that I would donate my time to build it. Please keep in mind that this would be a $600 cake for ANYONE else. My sis BLEW UP when I told her this. She says I should do the cake for free since I'm the uncle and godfather. I tried to explain to her the amount of time this kind of cake would take and how much money I would lose since I wouldn't be able to work on other cakes. I'm not about to go $600 in the hole just to do a cake for a family member. I might as well hand my niece a check for $600 and say Happy Birthday. Sorry, but I don't have that kind of money for a Birthday gift.

She could care less. As I've been told over and over, it's ridiculous for you to charge family members for cakes...."that what families do for each other."

Now I'm hearing that even though she loved her birthday cake (she cried when she first saw it), she's upset that I charged my brother-in-law for her birthday cake. She thought it was "ridiculous." I'm to the point where I'm honestly thinking about not doing any cake for family unless they pay what a regular customer would pay.

So, what do you all think? Am I wrong to expect the supplies to be paid for on a family members cake? Am I looking at this all wrong? Has anyone else run into this issue??

Thanks much for any input!

38 replies
ladyhawke917 Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 1:29am
post #2 of

I would use the comparison of a general contractor. If a member of your family was a general contractor, would they expect him/ her to provide all the materials to remodel their bathroom as well as providing the labor? Hopefully they will get the idea. And no, I don't think you are wrong. I think people don't realize how much is involved in the way of time and money. The average person's idea of what it takes to make a cake involves a box mix, a can of frosting and some of those candy letters.

jason_kraft Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 1:35am
post #3 of

Considering you can't legally sculpt the characters or the castle without Disney's permission, perhaps you can suggest a simpler cake that uses licensed character toppers you can purchase as a gift.

Sugar_Art_Cakery Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 2:11am
post #4 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyhawke917

I would use the comparison of a general contractor. If a member of your family was a general contractor, would they expect him/ her to provide all the materials to remodel their bathroom as well as providing the labor? Hopefully they will get the idea. And no, I don't think you are wrong. I think people don't realize how much is involved in the way of time and money. The average person's idea of what it takes to make a cake involves a box mix, a can of frosting and some of those candy letters.




Thanks for the perfect analogy. icon_biggrin.gif It's too true that people don't realize how much time goes into this. All these people (non-cake people) watch Cake Boss and say to themselves, "Look at that! They did that beautiful sculpted dragon (or whatever) in 30 minutes on the show"...lol

I understand that the everyday lay person doesn't understand just how involved a sculpted cake is....but my family does know how much work it takes. They've seen me working on cakes, they've heard me talk about how involved it is to do a cake like this. They've heard what I charge customers for these cakes and they know that it isn't a huge profit margin. Yet, my sister still feels entitled to free cakes....lol

Thanks for the input...much appreciated icon_biggrin.gif

Sugar_Art_Cakery Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 2:52am
post #5 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Considering you can't legally sculpt the characters or the castle without Disney's permission, perhaps you can suggest a simpler cake that uses licensed character toppers you can purchase as a gift.




Thanks much for the input, Jason.

No offense to yourself or any others on the forum that use these....but I wouldn't use a licensed character topper on one of my cakes if you offered to pay off my entire business and every bill I have. My cakes are custom, one-of-a-kind cakes....not Walmart cakes. Someone wants their Walmart cake with the Mickey topper...go 4 miles down the road and take a right and look for the pick-up trucks.

I'm a professionally trained cake designer. I didn't pay $20,000 for school to put some cheesy topper on one of my cakes.

As far as offering to do a simpler cake, I won't do that. I'm known in the area for the particular skill I have and that is sculpted cakes and/or theme cakes. I don't do simple cakes. You can go to Walmart for simple cakes or even hit Carvel if you want a whale shaped Ice Cream cake. That's not me and that's not what I do. My simplest cakes start at $250 and go from there. If you aren't willing to pay for my skill and effort, go someplace else....especially if I've offered to donate my time as long as you pay for supplies. I have bills to pay just like everyone else.

To be honest, my sister wouldn't even accept an offer to do a simpler cake. She wants one of MY cakes and that's that. She wants to be able to show off to her friends (and my nieces friends) that she got one of my cakes.

I just found out that my sis told other people that the reason I shouldn't have charged her for her cake is that I should look at all of the "publicity" I received from doing her cake....lmao So far, I've been approached by 7 people from her party. Want to know how many of those decided to buy a Purse cake when they found out what it really cost?

Zip
Zero
Zilch
Nada

Again, these people want these high-end cakes and have a Walmart budget. If I did some rinky-dink cake to keep it cheap for my sis, then Ive got 50 people coming to me for that rinky-dink cake and expecting it at the price I gave it to her at..NO THANKS.

As for the first part of your answer, I am very aware of what I can and cannot do legally. That's my business and besides, you weren't really answering my question to begin with. I wasn't asking how to rectify the situation (with offering a cheaper cake). I was simply asking if I was looking at this wrong and if anyone else had run into this issue.

ellawillow Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 3:52am
post #6 of

Ladyhawke has the right idea..........pffft family........lucky can choose our friends right icon_smile.gif


Just had to edit this as I just went and looked at your cakes - they are fantastic.....I can tell how much work goes into it.

If it were me I would now say 'no family cakes'.......unless they are willing to pay. That is time you could be making a cake for a full paying customer. I would just use your sister as an example and say it is not worth getting offside with someone so better to keep cakes and family separate. Good luck with it icon_smile.gif

jason_kraft Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 4:17am
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Art_Cakery

To be honest, my sister wouldn't even accept an offer to do a simpler cake. She wants one of MY cakes and that's that. She wants to be able to show off to her friends (and my nieces friends) that she got one of my cakes.



Well then, in my opinion she should be paying the full cost of the cake if she will be showing it off. I'm assuming she will probably be publicly posting pictures of the final cake and generating "publicity", which makes copyright permission an even more important issue.

When customers ask for cakes with decorations that are protected by copyright, my response is to have the customer provide written permission from the copyright owner. If they can't procure permission they get a non-infringing cake, which usually ends up being less labor intensive. It is certainly possible to make a great looking non-infringing cake.

For family and friends, we don't charge if we offer to make the cake for them, but if they request a cake they pay full price.

Lucky6 Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 4:39am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellawillow

Ladyhawke has the right idea..........pffft family........lucky can choose our friends right icon_smile.gif


Just had to edit this as I just went and looked at your cakes - they are fantastic.....I can tell how much work goes into it.

If it were me I would now say 'no family cakes'.......unless they are willing to pay. That is time you could be making a cake for a full paying customer. I would just use your sister as an example and say it is not worth getting offside with someone so better to keep cakes and family separate. Good luck with it icon_smile.gif




What she said no more cakes for family since they obviously don't appreciate your effort

Godot Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 4:45am
post #9 of

Well, you know, there really is an easy solution to this problem.

JUST.SAY.NO.

KoryAK Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 5:05am

My friends and family get 25% off across the board. It is up to them up to them choose a cake that they'd like and they'll get a discount on it, but that's it. If *I* choose to give a gift, that's a different story of course - and typically those cakes end up being pretty simple! lol

mommachris Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 6:52am

Her position that family 'does that' for each other is ridiculous.
If her husband owned a store...would you be allowed to shop and not pay?
So then your book keeper nephew would do your taxes for free.
Your driving instructor uncle will teach all your kids to drive at no cost and your father-in-law that owns a car dealership will give you all free used cars.
She's nuts.
No cake for her.
What she's really saying is that the family motto is 'we screw each other out of time and money because we are related'.

mommachris

mommynana Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 2:17pm

I hope no one jumps on me, But I think It depends on how good everyone gets along, My sister spend coutless hour`s sewing curtains for my living room and dinning room, My other sister jar`s tomato sauce every year (hundreds of jars) She never hesitates on dropping off 8 to 10 jars to everyone. The point is there is`t any thing I would`t do for any of my sisters, And they do the same.. But there is always a consideration On all of our part. That when we visit When the person that is visiting leaves, Will call on the phone and say... I left you a 50, or a 100, or a 150, Behined you frame in the living room. And thanks again for what you did for me, I love you. And I understand what people say If your husband owned a store Would anyone expect the stuff free, And NO That`s NOt expected. But, That`s just the way I feel.

kisamarie Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 2:38pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommachris

Her position that family 'does that' for each other is ridiculous.
If her husband owned a store...would you be allowed to shop and not pay?
So then your book keeper nephew would do your taxes for free.
Your driving instructor uncle will teach all your kids to drive at no cost and your father-in-law that owns a car dealership will give you all free used cars.
She's nuts.
No cake for her.
What she's really saying is that the family motto is 'we screw each other out of time and money because we are related'.

mommachris


thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gificon_biggrin.gif

Sugar_Art_Cakery Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 2:51pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommynana

I hope no one jumps on me, But I think It depends on how good everyone gets along, My sister spend coutless hour`s sewing curtains for my living room and dinning room, My other sister jar`s tomato sauce every year (hundreds of jars) She never hesitates on dropping off 8 to 10 jars to everyone. The point is there is`t any thing I would`t do for any of my sisters, And they do the same.. But there is always a consideration On all of our part. That when we visit When the person that is visiting leaves, Will call on the phone and say... I left you a 50, or a 100, or a 150, Behined you frame in the living room. And thanks again for what you did for me, I love you. And I understand what people say If your husband owned a store Would anyone expect the stuff free, And NO That`s NOt expected. But, That`s just the way I feel.




There should be no reason for anyone to jump on you for your opinion on this. I completely understand your sentiment as far as your family doing things for each other. While my family isn't exactly the closest family in the world, we always help each other out when the other needs us and we do show our appreciation for that help.

My issue is that this is how I pay my bills. I don't mind throwing a free $50 or even $100 cake to family members because the time issue is fairly minimal for me and I like helping out when someone in the family wants a nice cake but they can't afford it. It becomes a major issue for me when my sis knows she can't afford the kind of cakes that my paying customers get and yet expects me to do one of these for her....at no charge. It's like telling me to my face that you don't appreciate the time, money, effort it takes for me to knock out a really intensive beautiful cake. "We know it takes hours upon hours of your time, supplies, effort and skill to do this cake for us....but we don't care - I'm family so give me free
$500 cakes."

My sister is actually a bookkeeper/accountant - do you think she does my books? She doesn't but she HAS offered to do them.....at the same rate she charges her other customers...lol It all has to do with her perception of what she is entitled to.

The best part is...when me brother-in-law contacted me to do my sis's birthday cake, I told him I would do it if he paid for supplies. I told him that $150 would cover it. He actually asked me if that was enough...lol He has said before that he knows how much effort goes into these cakes and he kept saying how much he appreciated me doing the cake for her on the cheap. As for the cake for his daughter, he has told me he agrees that they should at least pay for supplies....but if he wants to keep his head firmly attached to his body he knows that he isn't able to say anything out loud about this...lmao

kisamarie Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 3:04pm

My favorite thing to say is "How much do you get paid per hour for the work you do? It can take up to 12 hours for me to make a wedding cake or sculpted cake. What would you be paid for 12 hours of work?" That usually puts it in perspective for people......but not everyone, lol!

ymmat77 Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 3:14pm

I just set a standard with my family when I started. I don't make any cakes for any events unless I volunteer, which is rarely. I love my work, but when I am with family, I want to relax. I might make a double chocolate cake, but it's not highly decorated. You need a break sometimes. One person in my family teases me about this, but he doesn't really like me that much anyway, so whatever!

j92383 Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 9:15pm

I only offer friends and family 10% off if they can't afford it they simplify their order or they go somewhere else. I treat them like regular customers now no deposit no cake. After a couple of people abuse your genorosity you stop being generous. If I volunteer than I do it completely free they don't have to pay for supplies.

Sugar_Art_Cakery Posted 10 Oct 2012 , 11:40pm

Well, I appreciate all the good advice. At least I know that I'm not being the crazy one here...lol

I have to find a middle ground that works for me. Like I mentioned before, I have no problem doing big cakes for some of the people in my family (with the supplies being paid for) because they do appreciate the work I do, but they certainly couldn't afford one of my cakes.

As for my sis, she CAN afford what I do. She spends more money on trips for cheerleading (with my niece) than I make in a year...lol Thanks to everyone for the great insight and advice....much appreciated.

So with that being said, when my sis decides she wants more free cake...it's No cake for you icon_smile.gif

BobbiR Posted 16 Oct 2012 , 10:45pm

I just wanted you to know i learned this lesson a long time ago because my aunt is a hair stylist. Every girl in the family wanted their hair done you know like full color, cut and style. For a long time my aunt ate the cost. she usually did the families hair after she had been working a 12 hour shift on her feet all day. She couldn't afford doing 7 family members hair monthly. Finally she snapped! a couple of people had their feelings hurt but in the end they were able to see things from her side and she only charges family the cost of her supplies. In fact she took a couple of them with her to Sally's beauty supplies so they could pick each thing they wanted, to help them realize how much it cost. I know its a lil off topic but its how i earned to feel about my cakes. I've had to take a few years off for medical reasons and i'm trying to get back in the swing of things. next month i have offered to do my nieces bday cake. Keyword is I OFFERED lol i'm only eating full cost to get back into swing and start on a new portfolio. I've always kinda had to lay down the law about costs. Family members are suppose to help each other. in my mind at least, BUT that being said my family members wouldn't be helping me by bringing down my money and i wouldn't be helping them by going to someone else to pay full price. I understand your frustration and i do hope things get better for you!

BakingIrene Posted 16 Oct 2012 , 11:05pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Art_Cakery

Now she and my b-i-l want me to do a cake for my nieces birthday next month. My niece is 17 and she wants a sculpted cake that looks like the Disney Castle along with gumpaste figures of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Snow White....etc. I told her that she would need to pay $150 for supplies as this is a LARGE cake but that I would donate my time to build it. Please keep in mind that this would be a $600 cake for ANYONE else. My sis BLEW UP when I told her this. She says I should do the cake for free since I'm the uncle and godfather. I tried to explain to her the amount of time this kind of cake would take and how much money I would lose since I wouldn't be able to work on other cakes. I'm not about to go $600 in the hole just to do a cake for a family member. I might as well hand my niece a check for $600 and say Happy Birthday. Sorry, but I don't have that kind of money for a Birthday gift.




I think this what I would say next time: Family gets cakes at half price. Check my website for the price list. Do the math yourself.

Your sister is out of whack and has probably been watching WAY too much Cake Boss on tv.

If your sister makes any noise, tell her she's like Buddy's sister Mary.

One of my sisters had this habit of grabbing all the good stuff like the antique furniture, the family needlework collection, even stuff that she would never use...and it looks like nobody else in the family visits her anymore. Because the stuff was so important...

arlenej Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 1:23pm

[quote=
I'm a professionally trained cake designer. My simplest cakes start at $250 and go from there. If you aren't willing to pay for my skill and effort, go someplace else....especially if I've offered to donate my time as long as you pay for supplies. I have bills to pay just like everyone else..[/quote]
Sisters. Grrr....
What you said.
So what's the problem?
What you CAN do is tell them that you expect to be swamped ('expect" being the operative word here) that week BUT you can recommend someone who'll be able to do what they want. Then be a fly on the wall when that person gives them a price....

costumeczar Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 4:13pm

If I volunteer they don't pay, it's a gift. If they ask they pay, they're placing an order. I'd probably discount a little but not more than about 10%.

And I agree with the person who said that "that's what families do" is code for "I want to screw you over and not be blamed for it." I'd respond with "Families should be your biggest supporters, and my supporters pay me what my services are worth."

costumeczar Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 4:15pm

I mean seriously...My kids don't even get birthday cakes on their birthdays because they fall right in the middle of wedding season. They're only kids and they understand, so an adult should be able to be reasonable unless she's a victim of arrested development.

fedra Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 4:34pm

I've already told my family that each family "unit" gets ONE free cake during MY business lifetime and after that its 65% of the regular cost. This is working great for me. They have also learned the hard way that I need at least a months notice if they want to ORDER. The best way that I have found that gets my point across to just how much time and money goes into making cakes is by having them come and help me make their cake: 10-12 hours later, they are shocked at the amount of work that is required!

cupncake1 Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 5:29pm

I so wish there was a like button here lol, well my opinion is that we should charge for our cakes for sure, and stop being afraid that everyone will think were mean, every single time I've bent that rule I've regretted it, I just moved to AZ so my family who was all excited about my cakes quickly began asking me to make cakes for my nieces/nephews (it seems like theres a birthday every week!) So I wasnt the mean auntie I told my nieces/nephews they could have a dozen of cupcakes the flavor of thier choice, so a a week before my nephews birthday they decide to go to a pizza place- just us and them, and my sister in law asks if I can make a small cake instead so I agree, then a few days before my moms telling me I really need to make a sculpted spongebob cake (I know Jason, I know) then my sister in laws mom sees me at church and I guess she'll be there too so she's asking me not to make chocolate cause she hates chocolate cake, then I find out there's really going to be like 30 guests and it's a party and I get to make cake for a bunch of people I dont even know and some I dont even like! So of course I would be a terrible aunt if I changed my mind about making the scupted spongebob cake I promised- how did that happen from agreeing to make a dozen cupcakes??? Ehh, now I know I should have stuck to my family gets 20% off rule! People really do appriciate and respect you more for it, then if some family memeber wants you to make a cake for your bastard brother in law at least you can think of a way to upcharge so they cant afford it (thats another story)

CarolLee Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 6:37pm

The ONLY free cakes I ever do are the 7 grandchildren!! Luckily for me their birthdays are generally spread out over the year.

It is true...people just do not have a CLUE what it takes - both monetarily and skills!!

saraek Posted 17 Oct 2012 , 7:21pm

personally, $100-$150 for supplies is definitely reasonable! If I were your sister, I would be ecstatic, especially given the detail her daughter wants in this cake. I made my sister's wedding cupcakes and did it all for free because it was my gift to her for her wedding day. I spent more on supplies, labor and time than I would have on an actual gift probably. But she was appreciative. Considering what your cakes usually go for, I'm baffled that she would complain. But then again, I know what goes into buying the supplies and spending your own time to build a cake for significantly less than what you SHOULD be charging. It's because you're family that she's getting such a great discount. If she can't see that, then apologize and decline. If she wants to look into buying a cake of that detail and design elsewhere, she'll see really fast how good she had it with you.

rosech Posted 18 Oct 2012 , 11:51am

I make free cake when I volunteer. Period. I may discount depending on how busy I am. Whether people understand or not is not my concern. I am more concerned about my health as long caking hours affect my health.

salokin Posted 25 Oct 2012 , 5:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Art_Cakery





No offense to yourself or any others on the forum that use these....but I wouldn't use a licensed character topper on one of my cakes if you offered to pay off my entire business and every bill I have. My cakes are custom, one-of-a-kind cakes....not Walmart cakes. Someone wants their Walmart cake with the Mickey topper...go 4 miles down the road and take a right and look for the pick-up trucks.

I'm a professionally trained cake designer. I didn't pay $20,000 for school to put some cheesy topper on one of my cakes.

As far as offering to do a simpler cake, I won't do that. I'm known in the area for the particular skill I have and that is sculpted cakes and/or theme cakes. I don't do simple cakes. You can go to Walmart for simple cakes or even hit Carvel if you want a whale shaped Ice Cream cake. That's not me and that's not what I do. My simplest cakes start at $250 and go from there. If you aren't willing to pay for my skill and effort, go someplace else....especially if I've offered to donate my time as long as you pay for supplies. I have bills to pay just like everyone else.




This comes off really bitchy.

carmijok Posted 25 Oct 2012 , 5:58pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by salokin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Art_Cakery





No offense to yourself or any others on the forum that use these....but I wouldn't use a licensed character topper on one of my cakes if you offered to pay off my entire business and every bill I have. My cakes are custom, one-of-a-kind cakes....not Walmart cakes. Someone wants their Walmart cake with the Mickey topper...go 4 miles down the road and take a right and look for the pick-up trucks.

I'm a professionally trained cake designer. I didn't pay $20,000 for school to put some cheesy topper on one of my cakes.

As far as offering to do a simpler cake, I won't do that. I'm known in the area for the particular skill I have and that is sculpted cakes and/or theme cakes. I don't do simple cakes. You can go to Walmart for simple cakes or even hit Carvel if you want a whale shaped Ice Cream cake. That's not me and that's not what I do. My simplest cakes start at $250 and go from there. If you aren't willing to pay for my skill and effort, go someplace else....especially if I've offered to donate my time as long as you pay for supplies. I have bills to pay just like everyone else.



This comes off really bitchy.




So?

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