The Thread about Allergy-Suffering Client and Business Practices

Decorating By CuteCakes1234 Updated 5 Jan 2013 , 6:08am by Evoir

costumeczar Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:20pm
post #31 of 112

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Original message sent by AZCouture

Signs of eventual burnout too, might I add. It's soooooo rewarding when you put all the pieces in place before you go public. Pricing structure, replying to clients, general organization skills, etc., etc. All of which you can get ideas for from here. But *then* start selling. Less surprises that way, less headaches, etc. Makes life easier.

Absolutely 100% right. You'll be much less likely to run into situations that you can't handle if you've thought things through ahead of time and don't just wing it. It would be easier to just not offer special order types of cakes if you don't have those worked out, and it isn't fair to customers or to yourself to add the stress of "figuring it out as I go and maybe it will work" to what should be a simple order.

jason_kraft Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:22pm
post #32 of 112

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Original message sent by -K8memphis

and I'm not a roseanne barr fan but when she was doing stand up early in her carreer some customers in the bars laughed and some did not--kind of a buzz kill--so her sister would stand behind the ones that got her humor and laughed to help Roseanner focus away from the debbie downers and toward her goal would God we All had a sister like that

Stand-up comedians use audience reaction to gauge where they need to adjust their set. Making this reaction more difficult to read is doing the comedian a disservice.

-K8memphis Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:33pm
post #33 of 112

guys, if someone posted a thread entitled,

 

"gonna jump off a cliff",

 

some of you would yell

 

GO

 

some of you would scold them for thier choice and suggest a better place to jump from

 

some would pop popcorn

 

there's no place like home there's....

 

 

icon_biggrin.gif

lilmissbakesalot Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:33pm
post #34 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 


Absolutely 100% right. You'll be much less likely to run into situations that you can't handle if you've thought things through ahead of time and don't just wing it. It would be easier to just not offer special order types of cakes if you don't have those worked out, and it isn't fair to customers or to yourself to add the stress of "figuring it out as I go and maybe it will work" to what should be a simple order.

I couldn't agree more.  The extra months spent preparing would have made this a non issue.  No, we never have it all 100% down, and yes we all make adjustments along the way, but something like knowing that your chocolate may contain nuts would have made this problem non existent.  Also... there is more than one kind of chocolate out there, and having a backup brand that is nut free or having a back up recipe that uses cocoa powder would be a good thing to have.  I also implore everyone to not take on allergy free orders unless they know what they are doing as a life hangs in the balance.  I'm sure you would have felt much worse had the child had a reaction.  I don't condemn you for realizing this was an order you should have never taken at all, but having the plans in place would have allowed you more time to make other plans.

AZCouture Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:40pm
post #35 of 112

What the heck are you going on about? F'real. K8, I mean. Everyone else makes sense, but I don't get what you're saying, sorry, I just don't. :(

-K8memphis Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:53pm
post #36 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

What the heck are you going on about? F'real. K8, I mean. Everyone else makes sense, but I don't get what you're saying, sorry, I just don't. :(

 

With all due respect I was addressing op mostly, not you.

AZCouture Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 5:54pm
post #37 of 112

Ok cool, I don't have to worry about trying to figure it out then. Thanks for the clarification!

SugaredSaffron Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 7:22pm
post #38 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

You know, at the risk of getting dog piled I say this: You have bigger issues than this allergy nut bag woman. You started several threads about starting a business, freaked out about people seeing your posts, deleted them, asked about working alone with small children around, etc., etc. I think you really need to consider investigating the business side of this whole cake thing before you continue down this path. Most of us can confidently say this situation would never ever have happened, and it has nothing to do with how long we've been in the business. It has to do with having really defined rules of business *before* opening shop. Your posts concern me. The ones that haven't been deleted, and the ones I vaguely remember before they were deleted.

 

And just out of curiosity, why are you letting *this* one remain public? Seems odd. Not trying to dis you, but you're exhibiting classic signs of someone who is selling, and then asking *how* to sell. It's backwards. :(


This!! Don't jump into the deep end if your not ready. You've made threads that are all over the place from months ago, you are starting a business, you're not starting a business, mixing wet ingredients, this happened, that happened. Just chill and gather your thoughts for a couple of months, you don't need to be super super organised but at least know in what direction you need to move in. Seriously, the iron is not hot.

DeniseNH Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 7:46pm
post #39 of 112

I tell them that I will do the best I can by providing nut free ingredients, boiling my beaters and bowls but in the end, I can't guarantee a totally nut free product as I'm relying on the manufacturing companies I get my ingredients from to also be nut free and a lot of them can't claim that.  I tell them that to be totally sure, I'll need to go to a health food store and purchase a mix that's labeled nut free and add the cost of the mix and the mileage to their tab.  That's when they usually hang up and it's no longer my problem :-)  If someone cancelled the day before my daughter's birthday I too would be livid but I'd be livid and would sue you if she ended up in the hospital.  Next time you might want to take the time to be prepared and like the other poster said, if you have too many orders - to the point of exhaustion - time to raise your prices.  If they're gunna make you work, you better make them pay.

Dani1081 Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 7:48pm
post #40 of 112

Totally agree with AZCouture on this one. . . .if you are in business, act like a business person. Be professional.  And if you don't know how to do that, there are business classes available that can help some people.  Otherwise, you waste your time, money and risk everything you have because you didn't prepare and your business will NOT succeed.  You may just get sued for discrimination and emotional trauma- even though we all think this lady is waaaaayyy  over the top, we all also know that  there are all kinds of lawyers out there that are happy to sue a business (that supposedly has an insurance company behind them). 

Dani1081 Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 7:52pm
post #41 of 112

And by "act like a business person. be professional" I mean know what you can do and what you can't and don't promise something unless you can deliver it.  I think we've all had a chuckle at the thousands of photos on Cake Wrecks. . . .those are people that promised what they could not deliver.  Obviously a BAD thing otherwise they wouldn't have a website that is hugely successful.  ;)

jason_kraft Posted 31 Dec 2012 , 9:33pm
post #42 of 112

AThere is no case for discrimination so I wouldn't worry about that, and if the customer was even able to find a lawyer to pursue an "emotional trauma" suit the OP's liability insurance company should be able to make short work of it.

If OP refused to make any cake at all (including a cake with nuts) for the customer after finding out there was a nut allergy, that could potentially be a valid discrimination case.

Dani1081 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 5:38am
post #43 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

If OP refused to make any cake at all (including a cake with nuts) for the customer after finding out there was a nut allergy, that could potentially be a valid discrimination case.

Jason, are you saying that a bakery that does not offer allergy free cakes are discriminating against people with allergies? 

jason_kraft Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 5:56am
post #44 of 112

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Original message sent by Dani1081

Jason, are you saying that a bakery that does not offer allergy free cakes are discriminating against people with allergies? 

No, but if you find out someone has allergies and then refuse to sell them anything, that could be considered discrimination based on a medical condition (which is a protected class). There is no requirement to offer allergy-free cakes, the discrimination is based on refusal to serve a customer.

AFAIK this has not been tested in court so I have no idea whether or not it would be considered a valid argument. They would also need to show that the refusal was based on the allergy and not for another reason.

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 6:11am
post #45 of 112

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Original message sent by dorie67

I was asked to make a cake for an individual that had an allergy, I was a nervous wreck to say the least. I totally understand CuteCakes 1234, try not to let the experience get you down. :princess:

Thank you! As always my fellow cakers made me instantly feel 100x better then when I first wrote this :)

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 6:18am
post #46 of 112

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Original message sent by DonnaOK

This is my chance posting here in Cake Central, and I have not had a chance to read all of the replies....but wanted to tell you not to give up.  Caking is ten times harder than anyone would ever dream.  I've been at it for awhile now, and I think each of us will attest that you learn as you go. 

First, I am not sure anyone mentioned this, but be really careful with FB contests.  They used to have very specific rules about doing contests.  To the point where they could wipe your page out, if they caught you doing one.  The way around it was to promote a contest on your page, that was listed to your blog on your website.  Not sure if that applies to a person page as well, and I am unsure that their rules are as stringent as they used to be.  Just FYI on that. 

I understand both sides of this.  I totally get you not wanting to hurt the child and putting their safety above anything else.  I can only imagine what would of happened if this child got sick.  I also understand the mother's side (to a degree) of being upset.  However, trashing you is ridiculous.  You made a mistake, and you tried to rectify it.  I did read where one person posted about putting the specifics out there for your contests, and I agree with that.  Unfortunately, you have to cover yourself in this day and age.

Hang in there, and keep your chin up.  This will pass, and you will learn from it!

Totally done with contest lol, but seriously I didnt know I could possibly get into trouble. Thanks for the advice it was much needed!!

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 6:22am
post #47 of 112

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Original message sent by jason_kraft

If you blocked her from FB how do you know she is still bashing you? As someone with a severe nut allergy I wouldn't order a cake of any flavor from a bakery unless they already advertised that they make nut-free products and I am comfortable with how they handle cross-contamination. Trust is critical in this market, and if you mess up you probably won't be able to appease that customer no matter what you do.

Its called friends being friends with her :).. My "assistant" is friends with her on fb and she is now blocked, so who knows if she is still bashing me? Lol happy new year!!!

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 6:30am
post #48 of 112

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Original message sent by Dani1081

Sorry if my original post made you angry - that was not my intent, but apparently since you singled out my response by quoting it, I will assume that  it did and I will apologize for that and I will start out by saying that nowhere in my post did I say you were unprofessional,  and I certainly didn't say that her number one priority wasn't the health and well being of her child, or that you should have made a cake anyway and taken the chance of hurting this child.  I didn't know that chocolate could be tainted by nuts, but then I don't need to know as I don't ever agree to make allergy free items. I just meant that if you couldn't make her a cake, you should have said so in the beginning rather than right before the party.  Like Evior said, "you need to accept your part in this problem too".  Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but your original post sounded like this:

A lady won a free cake and requested an allergy free chocolate cake for her son's birthday. You agreed to make an allergy free chocolate cake for her son's birthday, entering into a business agreement, or verbal contract, with her.  The day before her son's birthday, you did your homework and realized you weren't able to make the cake, at which time you cancelled the order leaving her with no cake and no time to order one from somewhere else. The lady is mad and is bad mouthing you.  

I would not have made the cake either - I would have told her from the beginning that I could not make the cake for her. She would have time to go somewhere that could have made his cake. With her response being what it has been and her obvious anger over the situation, I think I would expect to hear from a lawyer in the near future.    Like I said, sorry if I've misunderstood the situation and in doing so, made you angry. 

I'm not mad, also I did not state that I don't feel that she shouldn't be upset.. I've done all I could and truly care.. But for her to keep on and keep at it over a free cake.. A little much.. :)

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 6:45am
post #49 of 112

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Original message sent by Dani1081

Sorry if my original post made you angry - that was not my intent, but apparently since you singled out my response by quoting it, I will assume that  it did and I will apologize for that and I will start out by saying that nowhere in my post did I say you were unprofessional,  and I certainly didn't say that her number one priority wasn't the health and well being of her child, or that you should have made a cake anyway and taken the chance of hurting this child.  I didn't know that chocolate could be tainted by nuts, but then I don't need to know as I don't ever agree to make allergy free items. I just meant that if you couldn't make her a cake, you should have said so in the beginning rather than right before the party.  Like Evior said, "you need to accept your part in this problem too".  Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but your original post sounded like this:

A lady won a free cake and requested an allergy free chocolate cake for her son's birthday. You agreed to make an allergy free chocolate cake for her son's birthday, entering into a business agreement, or verbal contract, with her.  The day before her son's birthday, you did your homework and realized you weren't able to make the cake, at which time you cancelled the order leaving her with no cake and no time to order one from somewhere else. The lady is mad and is bad mouthing you.  

I would not have made the cake either - I would have told her from the beginning that I could not make the cake for her. She would have time to go somewhere that could have made his cake. With her response being what it has been and her obvious anger over the situation, I think I would expect to hear from a lawyer in the near future.    Like I said, sorry if I've misunderstood the situation and in doing so, made you angry. 

No Idid not point that towards you at all, I was just saying in general lol I'm new to these forms.

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 6:56am
post #50 of 112

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Original message sent by AZCouture

You know, at the risk of getting dog piled I say this: You have bigger issues than this allergy nut bag woman. You started several threads about starting a business, freaked out about people seeing your posts, deleted them, asked about working alone with small children around, etc., etc. I think you really need to consider investigating the business side of this whole cake thing before you continue down this path. Most of us can confidently say this situation would never ever have happened, and it has nothing to do with how long we've been in the business. It has to do with having really defined rules of business *before* opening shop. Your posts concern me. The ones that haven't been deleted, and the ones I vaguely remember before they were deleted.

And just out of curiosity, why are you letting *this* one remain public? Seems odd. Not trying to dis you, but you're exhibiting classic signs of someone who is selling, and then asking *how* to sell. It's backwards. :(

Isn't this form for helping people? Not judging them based on what we have or have not posted in the past? Yes I want to start a business never did I say when? But I'm not going to keep doing orders for free when the bakery next door has issues with that and I respect them.. I want to learn learn study study, just because I say in one post I'm a single mother and am cluess on the business aspect. does NOT for one second say I can't run a business, I can and will run a business and it will take as long as it takes.. Quite frankly this post kind of offends me, who's to say I'm in a downwards spiral? As for me keeping this one public is simply my choice :).

SugaredSaffron Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:08am
post #51 of 112

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Original message sent by CuteCakes1234

Isn't this form for helping people? Not judging them based on what we have or have not posted in the past? Yes I want to start a business never did I say when? But I'm not going to keep doing orders for free when the bakery next door has issues with that and I respect them.. I want to learn learn study study, just because I say in one post I'm a single mother and am cluess on the business aspect. does NOT for one second say I can't run a business, I can and will run a business and it will take as long as it takes.. Quite frankly this post kind of offends me, who's to say I'm in a downwards spiral? As for me keeping this one public is simply my choice :).

If you dont want to do orders for free, then start a business. If you dont want to start a business, then don't charge people for your cakes!

You cant have your cake and eat it too!

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:08am
post #52 of 112

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Original message sent by SugaredSaffron

This!! Don't jump into the deep end if your not ready. You've made threads that are all over the place from months ago, you are starting a business, you're not starting a business, mixing wet ingredients, this happened, that happened. Just chill and gather your thoughts for a couple of months, you don't need to be super super organised but at least know in what direction you need to move in. Seriously, the iron is not hot.

My post may be all over the place, I normally come on here to vent or when i REALLY need advice.. no sorry I won't give up because you guys think I'm not ready sorry.. That's not in my blood :)

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:11am
post #53 of 112

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Original message sent by Dani1081

And by "act like a business person. be professional" I mean know what you can do and what you can't and don't promise something unless you can deliver it.  I think we've all had a chuckle at the thousands of photos on Cake Wrecks. . . .those are people that promised what they could not deliver.  Obviously a BAD thing otherwise they wouldn't have a website that is hugely successful.  ;)

Well good thing my cakes do not fit in that cake wreck catagory they are beautiful works of art..

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:14am
post #54 of 112

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Original message sent by SugaredSaffron

If you dont want to do orders for free, then start a business. If you dont want to start a business, then don't charge people for your cakes! You cant have your cake and eat it too!

I am clearly starting a business enough with the childish crap I will not take from it..

Evoir Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:18am
post #55 of 112

Hi everyone. Please keep the tone of this discussion respectful at all times. We are all entitled to our own opinion, please ensure that you are not attacking another member personally when you add your comments.

 

To the OP (CuteCakes1234): Please do not take offence when people are offering you business advice and their own perspectives borne of actually working their own businesses for many years. I know you posted this thread in the "Cake Decorating" forum, however it is more about business practices. I cannot see why you would post this publicly if not to get other cakers' input as to how to avoid this same situation occurring again. So, please do not feel you are under attack - we are all here to help one another, but please understand that some members have a wealth of knowledge and practical experience which they are willing to share with you - for free!

 

With regard to this situation, it would not be the responsible thing for anyone here to do to simply agree with you it was all your customer's fault, although we do sympathise with having a 'difficult client'. Clearly (as I outlined in my earlier posts, as have others), there are things you can do to prevent this sort of thing happening again. Take any advice in the spirit it was intended. No-one is here to judge you or attack you.

 

Once again, folks: If there are any personal attacks this thread will be locked down.

SugaredSaffron Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:22am
post #56 of 112

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Original message sent by CuteCakes1234

I am clearly starting a business enough with the childish crap I will not take from it..

Calm down dear, only going by what you've said in this and previous threads. People are actually trying to help, but if you already know everything then no need to make so many nuts threads right?

Original message sent by CuteCakes1234

Yes I want to start a business never did I say when?

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:48am
post #57 of 112

AExcuse my rudeness in the last few quotes.. I will take a brake from cake decorating, take a few classes and make some dummy cakes in the process to build a nice portfolio, also work on my emotions, I've been soo stressed with cake decorating three children and a part time job. I've let my emotions show all to much tisk tisk!

Sense I am doing this how should I go about telling my FB fans and loyal customers that I am taking a brake to build skill and knowledge to properly run a SUCCESSFUL business? Also how long do you guys recommend? The cake skill is there so I will not need a cake decorating class I finished wilton 1234.. I'm guessing a half a year to a year? Id rather it be 3 to 4 months and be hard core in the books,classes what have you.

Annabakescakes Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 7:54am
post #58 of 112

AT

Original message sent by CuteCakes1234

I am clearly starting a business enough with the childish crap I will not take from it..

to be fair, I don't think that's what she meant. IMHO I think she meant that it is illegal for you to do cakes and charge for them. You must start a business if you want to charge. So stop charging for cakes, since you don't have a business. Simple as that.

And don't think I don't understand where you are. I was divorced, with 3 year old twins, and sporadic child support when I found out I was pregnant with my birth control baby, 2 weeks after I broke up with her idiot, alcoholic, weed smoking father. Since I am pro-life, I just worked when I could, took in sewing, sold all my twin stuff, and got on food stamps and medical card. I did this for 3 years, and went to business school. I worked stupid crappy jobs that I hated, but I couldn't keep them for very long, since I had no support in place for when they were sick and couldn't go to childcare, or on snow days when I had to get the kids early... There were times I had my electric or water cut off, and a time I spent 3 days at my ex-husbands apartment, 8 months pregnant with another mans child, and once after she was about 18 months old... It was hard, and horrible, but I clawed my way to have my own bakery, and I didn't break the law, or take a penny from anyone. You can too!!! It takes time and patience.

CuteCakes1234 Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 8:04am
post #59 of 112

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Original message sent by Annabakescakes

T to be fair, I don't think that's what she meant. IMHO I think she meant that it is illegal for you to do cakes and charge for them. You must start a business if you want to charge. So stop charging for cakes, since you don't have a business. Simple as that. And don't think I don't understand where you are. I was divorced, with 3 year old twins, and sporadic child support when I found out I was pregnant with my birth control baby, 2 weeks after I broke up with her idiot, alcoholic, weed smoking father. Since I am pro-life, I just worked when I could, took in sewing, sold all my twin stuff, and got on food stamps and medical card. I did this for 3 years, and went to business school. I worked stupid crappy jobs that I hated, but I couldn't keep them for very long, since I had no support in place for when they were sick and couldn't go to childcare, or on snow days when I had to get the kids early... There were times I had my electric or water cut off, and a time I spent 3 days at my ex-husbands apartment, 8 months pregnant with another mans child, and once after she was about 18 months old... It was hard, and horrible, but I clawed my way to have my own bakery, and I didn't break the law, or take a penny from anyone. You can too!!! It takes time and patience.

Idk if its my PMS or what... but this post has me teary eyed just to know someone from a simi similar situation has over come and is successful! Really brings so much joy to me! Thank you for posting that seriously, that was a very personal matter. There are soo many people putting me down because im 23 and have children.. They do not believe in me but god didn't give me this wonderful gift to just throw away and give up. I guess I will stop doing cakes for awhile as stated (witch will suck I love what I do!!) But clearly I'm unprofessional and need more business education!

Evoir Posted 1 Jan 2013 , 8:08am
post #60 of 112

Thanks Cutecakes1234...

 

I don't think any business can truly, truly succeed if the owner is having troubles with workload and stress! Its very hard to run a business from your home AND be a single Mum too, I expect. BUT, many people do it. I congratulate you for taking the Wilton courses, as these are a good start on learning the basics. First of all, you need to ask yourself if cake decorating is your passion, and is this the best way for you to earn an income and support your family. IF it is, then read on...

 

I am sure many of the US members will chime in with some helpful, but more specific, advice. I think its important to look at several different areas. By NO means should it take you all of 18 months to get started, and if you know the key areas, you can certainly get ahead faster.

 

The main areas (as I see it):

 

  1. Food safety, including being certified to be able to make and sell cakes from your home (including any restrictions on types of ingredients, eg cream cheese). Depending on your location you may need to pass a Food Safety course (very simple, and can be done online in some places). The other side of this is your state and town regulations for operating a food business from your home. These two things are the top of anyone's list when starting a cake business.
  2. Small business management. Technically, many cake businesses at home are "micro-businesses", so once you are allowed to trade in cakes from your own home, you will need to think about not only the day to day paperwork, but the financial reports you will need to generate for your tax authority. I recommend a simple software package like Cake Boss, which allows you to keep track of all your purchases, stock levels, clients details, recipes, calendars and so forth. This software is NOT essential - if you are savvy with software you can create your own alternate systems at home. I recommend also backing up daily, and keeping a paper diary as a back up too as you get into the business, just in case. I am sure there are plenty of free resources online for learning basic book-keeping, if you want to try this all on paper.
  3. Skills as a decorator. This is more the fun part of your work, but still related to the financial side of things. You will want to invest in equipment, courses, books, magazines and of course publicity. You need to work on your own recipes and eventually find your niche in cake decorating. This is something you can do once you are up and running, and after you've done some dummies and get a basic website up an running! And from personal experience - you never stop learning!

 

There are MANY mothers on cake central who work from home and have kids to pick up from school and take to soccer or dance classes etc, and we all learn our own ways of aligning our home life with our work/business. Its not all easy. If you have a separate room or space to work in where you don't need to clean up to make room for the kids to eat at the table, etc, then that is a great bonus.

 

I will let the US members post more details pertaining to these three main areas I think, because as a newby to the industry I am sure you are craving SPECIFIC information :-)

 

I wish you all the best, and hope you stick around CC and eventually feel comfortable enough to post some photos of your work. We'd love to see it!

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