ATCakes Posted 16 Dec 2012 , 9:59pm
post #1 of

Hi all!

 

I just need a little feedback.  I recently lost my accounting job after 9 years.  I have been decorating cakes for the past 10 years and have taken all sorts of classes from well-known sugar artists. I feel that my skills are good enough to start in a bakery as a cake decorator.  I have approached one bakery and sent them pictures of my best cakes and a resume stating that while I have not worked in a commercial bakery that my skills and passion for sugar arts are great.  I haven't heard back from them at all.  My question is how should I approach bakeries so I can get a foot in the door and how should I word my resume?

 

Thanks

17 replies
BakingIrene Posted 16 Dec 2012 , 11:54pm
post #2 of

"Passion for sugar arts" is not normally used inside a bakery.  The skills that matter to a bakery are timing, multitasking, and people management.  They can teach you to decorate a lot faster than they can teach those other skills.

 

How to get your foot in the door: do your homework.  Make a table of bakeries, their style of decorating, their contact info, look carefully at their website. Look for the ones that are busiest or that take interns (many now do say that in their careers section).

 

Then call the bakeries on your shortlist and ask for the manager's name and best time to contact them.  Use google to see if there are any useful email addresses on their website.

 

Write a cover letter for your resume addressed to this owner or manager, that stresses your professional attitude and your willingness to work with customers.  Ask for  an informational interview and a tour.  Follow up with a phone call to schedule a time.

 

Put together your portfolio and take it with you to this informational interview.  Let it speak for itself.  At the tour, look carefully at the way that they have set up work areas. Look at the condition of their equipment.  Look at the stacks of their supplies and the cleanliness of their shipping area.  Look for obvious insect infestations.

 

Follow up with a thank-you letter as you would after any interview. Keep in touch with the bakeries that you found to be most appealing after you saw the back rooms.

shanter Posted 16 Dec 2012 , 11:57pm
post #3 of

You might be able to start at someplace like a supermarket, Costco, Walmart, etc. That would get you experience to use when you go for a more sophisticated job.

embersmom Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 12:18am
post #4 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by shanter 

You might be able to start at someplace like a supermarket, Costco, Walmart, etc. That would get you experience to use when you go for a more sophisticated job.


I second this.  Most stand-alone bakeries will not look at you, no matter how great your portfolio, unless you can demonstrate that you have experience in a commercial setting.  A supermarket or club job (i.e., Costco, BJs) is the easiest way to get your foot in the door.  As a poster said upthread, the major thing they'll teach you is speed and how to multitask, which are two indispensable skills in any kind of production work,

 

ETA:  You're already halfway there, as you already know the basics.  They will be thrilled not having to teach you how to ice a cake or use a rose nail!

DeliciousDesserts Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 2:51pm
post #5 of

AI completely disagree!! Here, in Charleston, bakeries will not think twice about someone who lists grocery stores in a resume. They consider that to be practicing the wrong way! We've gossiped about it & how they would rather have some fresh & green than someone who had been taught how to crank out crap.

I say do exactly what you've been doing!

-K8memphis Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 3:39pm
post #6 of

One of those crap crankers won the Holiday Food Network Challenge against James Rosen in the Christmas song challenge a few years ago. The nerve of him!

 

Speed is very important in successful employment in cake deco. Playing well with others helps too- good customer service.

 

edited to say I mean James Roselle not James Rosen

DeliciousDesserts Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 4:53pm
post #7 of

I certainly wasn't meaning to be offensive.  

 

I doubt seriously that he won with something he would have placed in a grocery store case.  I might also add that my "crap" reference was to the crappy cake not any person.  The Nerve to twist my words & meaning!

 

For the record, I started in a Kroger bakery.  While it did teach me speed, it did not teach me attention to detail or creativity or many of the important, vital skills needed for working in an upscale bakery

DeliciousDesserts Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 5:00pm
post #8 of

oops, just couldn't let it go....I play very well with others.  I think if you review my many posts that you will see that I take great care to be considerate.

 

I sincerely apologize for offending you.  I did not mean to imply that people, who work at those places, are crap or crappy.  I do believe, & so is my right to opinion, that those mass produced, impersonal cakes are crap.

Sparklekat6 Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 5:13pm
post #9 of

Are you a CPA? Why don't you do book-keeping for the bakeries in town?  You probably understand their business better than most accountants and maybe you can help a few small bakeries do a little better with better financial management.  At least then you can marry you passion with your formal education in some way. 

jason_kraft Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 6:03pm

A

Original message sent by Sparklekat6

Are you a CPA? Why don't you do book-keeping for the bakeries in town?  You probably understand their business better than most accountants and maybe you can help a few small bakeries do a little better with better financial management.  At least then you can marry you passion with your formal education in some way. 

This is a great idea, and now is the perfect time since California's cottage food law is in effect as of Jan 1, 2013.

Annabakescakes Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 6:55pm

AI couldn't a

Original message sent by DeliciousDesserts

oops, just couldn't let it go....I play very well with others.  I think if you review my many posts that you will see that I take great care to be considerate.

I sincerely apologize for offending you.  I did not mean to imply that people, who work at those places, are crap or crappy.  I do believe, & so is my right to opinion, that those mass produced, impersonal cakes are crap.

I couldn't agree more. And I knew what you meant when I reads your previous post, and took no offense, it didn't even occur to me to be offended. I worked at 3 different places decorating crappy cakes, but I tried to make them pretty and they told me to hurry up! The bakery manager actually told me,"it doesn't matter what they look like, people will still buy them. Just keep the case full." 8-0 I put in my 2 weeks notice about a week later and worked delivering pizzas because I'd rather not make a cake at all, if I have to make a crappy one.

-K8memphis Posted 17 Dec 2012 , 7:32pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATCakes

Hi all!

 

I just need a little feedback. I recently lost my accounting job after 9 years. I have been decorating cakes for the past 10 years and have taken all sorts of classes from well-known sugar artists. I feel that my skills are good enough to start in a bakery as a cake decorator. I have approached one bakery and sent them pictures of my best cakes and a resume stating that while I have not worked in a commercial bakery that my skills and passion for sugar arts are great. I haven't heard back from them at all. My question is how should I approach bakeries so I can get a foot in the door and how should I word my resume?

 

Thanks

 

There was a caker on here a few years ago who took something like 14 hours to make a pirate ship cake. It was awesome. She was transitioning from home to an employee in a bakery. However I think she got fired or asked to leave because a bakery cannot afford to loose money like that on sucha slow decorator. Even in the chichifoofoo shops they might be more limitless in design--I know one girl got to do a large oil well that spewed chocolate--but they know how to determine the hours of work necessary and therefore how to bill for those work hours.

 

So speed is crucial. There's no way around it.

 

Another friend of mine could not believe how physical cake deco is. Back breaking, foot swelling, leg aching, arm burning hard labor.

 

As to how you should word your resume, hmm, perhaps acknowledge that you are looking forward to learning how a full time bakeshop works or something to that effect. Maybe start out in a position icing cakes and work up or offer to. Just give a bit of a nod to not being fully skilled.

 

A home decorator is both over qualified and under qualified so in your resume you want to give a nod to bridging that gap. It's like a home decorator just hatched out of a beautifully decorated sugar egg. They look like a cake decorator and talk like one but they can't walk/work like one yet. They're a snow globe the bakery would set on their shelf.

 

There's a genuine rift between bakery owners and home decorators & vice versa. Bakery owners are upset that home decorators can't function successfully in their world. Home decorators think they are better than bakeries who have been churning it out day in day out because they do not have the luxury of time that home cakers have You want to gently softly that in your resume even in a high end cake shop/bakery.

 

GOOD LUCK!!!

cakefat Posted 18 Dec 2012 , 12:21am
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis 

One of those crap crankers won the Holiday Food Network Challenge against James Rosen in the Christmas song challenge a few years ago. The nerve of him!

 

Speed is very important in successful employment in cake deco. Playing well with others helps too- good customer service.

 

edited to say I mean James Roselle not James Rosen

James Roselle worked in a grocery store bakery? Really??

 

I knew he worked at Ron Ben Israel after culinary school..which would have prepared him for winning almost anything but I did not know he worked at a grocery store bakery? 

cakefat Posted 18 Dec 2012 , 12:23am

oh Sorry!! I misread that... someone who worked at a grocery store bakery won AGAINST him a contest. My mistake!

-K8memphis Posted 18 Dec 2012 , 12:40am

James worked for Ewald Notter too. He got a great education!!! And he's an incredible artist.

embersmom Posted 19 Dec 2012 , 12:24am
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis 

 

There was a caker on here a few years ago who took something like 14 hours to make a pirate ship cake. It was awesome. She was transitioning from home to an employee in a bakery. However I think she got fired or asked to leave because a bakery cannot afford to loose money like that on sucha slow decorator. Even in the chichifoofoo shops they might be more limitless in design--I know one girl got to do a large oil well that spewed chocolate--but they know how to determine the hours of work necessary and therefore how to bill for those work hours.

 

So speed is crucial. There's no way around it.

 

Another friend of mine could not believe how physical cake deco is. Back breaking, foot swelling, leg aching, arm burning hard labor.

 

As to how you should word your resume, hmm, perhaps acknowledge that you are looking forward to learning how a full time bakeshop works or something to that effect. Maybe start out in a position icing cakes and work up or offer to. Just give a bit of a nod to not being fully skilled.

 

A home decorator is both over qualified and under qualified so in your resume you want to give a nod to bridging that gap. It's like a home decorator just hatched out of a beautifully decorated sugar egg. They look like a cake decorator and talk like one but they can't walk/work like one yet. They're a snow globe the bakery would set on their shelf.

 

There's a genuine rift between bakery owners and home decorators & vice versa. Bakery owners are upset that home decorators can't function successfully in their world. Home decorators think they are better than bakeries who have been churning it out day in day out because they do not have the luxury of time that home cakers have You want to gently softly that in your resume even in a high end cake shop/bakery.

 

GOOD LUCK!!!

 

thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

 

I'll be upfront:  I've been working in supermarket bakeries in every capacity for a very long time.  I've also worked for a couple of wholesale bakeries specializing in weddings as well as occasionally doing cakes on the side at home.  In other words, I've see all sides of the OP's question, and there is a lot of truth in the "snow globe" effect:  You can talk the talk, but you have absolutely no idea what it's like doing cakes for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or even longer, in a commercial setting.

 

Two chains I worked for refused to hire home decorators because of the time and money that would be spent bringing them up to production speed.  These two chains churned out a lot of what some may call "crap cakes" for the display case,  but those "crap cakes" demanded some finesse in a timely manner because the customers would pay accordingly for the finesse.  Whenever a holiday or graduation rolled around, we were inundated.  There was no way we could spend hours on one particular cake, so a decorator who was quick AND creative was worth his/her weight in gold to us.  Sadly, they were far and few between.

 

I broke into this business OTJ.  I started as a clerk.  The more I observed, the more I wanted to learn, so I was always asking questions like, "How do you do X?" or "Can I watch you do Y?"  Little by little I learned how to do simple cake-ing like icing, making half roses, different borders, etc.  I eventually graduated to doing decos, then, as my skills grew, I was given the occasional special order cake.  At the same time I learned how to finesse by making the display case cakes.  It didn't happen overnight, but I stuck with it.  I read anything I could get my hands on concerning decorating,  My first boss let me bring home parchment bags, icing, and cardboard rounds so I could practice.  In other words, enthusiasm and genuine interest is everything :)

 

Good luck!

Evoir Posted 19 Dec 2012 , 12:47am

OK here is my take, based on my own move from being a professional, to being a professional cake decorator.

 

In the current US economy, given your qualifications, if your primary goal is earning an income outside of the traditional work environment I would suggest you do small business accounting from home (keeping cakes as a hobby), rather than work in a bakery or build a home-based cake decorating business. I know you said you want to work in an bakery, but chances are you will be rudely shocked by how little they earn, and if you have a mortgage to pay then you might not be able to take the wage cut.

 

I'm just being realistic here. 

 

If your passion for cake decorating is your raison d'etre, and your loss of accounting job was secretly a fortuitous opportunity to now turn to the world of caking for your life's work, then be prepared to start at the bottom in a grocery store type situation, at minimum wage. (again, if you want to really work in a bakery, that is).

 

If you want to make quality custom cakes (fewer cakes per week, bigger prices, more interesting work), and you are getting no joy with the local high-end cakeries in your town, then starting your own home-based business would be another idea if it is allowable in your town and state under the pertinent laws etc. This will cost you considerably in set-up costs, however (although far less than starting up a commercial cake making business). But if you have the passion and drive and belief in your skills you can do it. (clearly you will know how to handle the books etc...and the hours and hours of non-cake-making paperwork which goes with the territory).

 

Either way you will not enjoy the income you had working as a CPA for 9 years. At least not for a few years anyway.

 

I'm not posting any of this to put you off, but to help you clarify your thoughts and prioritise your needs. You are a smart cookie who can crunch the numbers. Just make sure you know the real costs before changing tack.

 

All the best with your plans :-)

ATCakes Posted 22 Dec 2012 , 12:52am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir 

OK here is my take, based on my own move from being a professional, to being a professional cake decorator.

 

In the current US economy, given your qualifications, if your primary goal is earning an income outside of the traditional work environment I would suggest you do small business accounting from home (keeping cakes as a hobby), rather than work in a bakery or build a home-based cake decorating business. I know you said you want to work in an bakery, but chances are you will be rudely shocked by how little they earn, and if you have a mortgage to pay then you might not be able to take the wage cut.

 

I'm just being realistic here. 

 

If your passion for cake decorating is your raison d'etre, and your loss of accounting job was secretly a fortuitous opportunity to now turn to the world of caking for your life's work, then be prepared to start at the bottom in a grocery store type situation, at minimum wage. (again, if you want to really work in a bakery, that is).

 

If you want to make quality custom cakes (fewer cakes per week, bigger prices, more interesting work), and you are getting no joy with the local high-end cakeries in your town, then starting your own home-based business would be another idea if it is allowable in your town and state under the pertinent laws etc. This will cost you considerably in set-up costs, however (although far less than starting up a commercial cake making business). But if you have the passion and drive and belief in your skills you can do it. (clearly you will know how to handle the books etc...and the hours and hours of non-cake-making paperwork which goes with the territory).

 

Either way you will not enjoy the income you had working as a CPA for 9 years. At least not for a few years anyway.

 

I'm not posting any of this to put you off, but to help you clarify your thoughts and prioritise your needs. You are a smart cookie who can crunch the numbers. Just make sure you know the real costs before changing tack.

 

All the best with your plans :-)

Thank you all for the responses.  I will take all of your advice and see where it takes me.  I need to clear one fact up-I was an accounting clerk not a CPA. and fortunately my husband makes enough that we will be able to manage for a while.  Since California just passed the Cottage Food Law mu county is still working with the state to figure out how to handle this.  So we will see where this goes.

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