Hi everyone! I am a little nervous posting this but I need to vent and get some advice so here goes! I am new to decorating and am teaching myself as I go. Recently I have decided that I want to start an at home business. We just moved to Washington and they have a cottage food law in place so I have been working on getting together all the information I need for my application. Meanwhile I have been working on trying to build up my portfolio. I am a stay at home mom and have 3 small children and like a lot of you I have a lot of responsibilities around the house. I really want to make this business work but I am afraid I am not going to be able to handle the stress. I have developed an eye twitch over the last few months that my neurologist thinks is stress related. It has been going on for months now and it is seriously driving me crazy! On top of that my migraines seem to be worse than ever and I have been snappy with my kids :( I just did my first cake for someone other than a family member. I made a cake for Cakes Against Cancer For Kids. I decided to make a 3D Bambi cake and it was looking really good until I went to put the fondant on. I didn't have enough support for the head and it fell off! I ended up repairing it and it came out ok (not as good as it could have - I attached a photo at the bottom) but it really shook my confidence. The head fell off at 12:00 am the night before I was supposed to deliver so I was freaking out thinking I was going to have to try to find the little boy a cake in the morning. I couldn't sleep and I just felt sick to my stomach. It made me think maybe I am not cut out for this. Have any of you had situations like this? If so how did you handle it? Sorry for the really long post but I could really use some advice!
Thank you for listening to my craziness!
Hey Shannon Davie,
That cake looks just fine! Remember we are usually our own worse critics) I completely understand where you are coming from. It can be stressful and I have been in very similar situations before. It gets easier... and less stressful. I have to say it makes a huge difference if you have the support of your other half, try not to take on more than you can handle (pace yourself) and try not too leave things too last minute. (I am a sucker for the last one). Maybe try not to put too much pressure on yourself to do everything because your health matters and in the end we need to put ourselves and family first before cake or anything else.
Good luck! Take care of yourself!
Hi, your cake is gorgeous. Having support from your family makes all the difference in the world. Also, you can decide how many cakes you want to do in a week and just go from there. Try to also do figures and flowers and letters before hand and spread the workload over a couple of days and in that way, you will not feel as pressured. Yes, you will have some stressfull days but there are lessons to be learnt from those. good luck and all the best in your venture.
the key is just making sure you don't take on too much and to manage your time wisely. only take on orders that you know you have ample time for, and that you are 100% capable of doing. as time goes on you will get better at decorating and you will also get into the swing of how much work you can handle. trust me I know :) and yes, we are definitely our own worst critics...I've stayed awake at night stressing myself out over and order I had to complete the next day and it always turns out just fine :) don't worry, that's the beauty of being your own boss...what you say, goes :)
The Bambi cake is awesome! I no longer cover cakes with fondant, and don't do sculpted cakes, only round ones. Yet, I still get orders. Decide what is easiest for you to make at first, then when you have a handle on stress, branch out. It's okay not to be super fancy, just be creative and have fun. You don't have to take every order that comes your way, particularly if it's a challenging order. With 3 little ones it makes sense to figure out when the best time is to bake each week. In all honesty though, with migraines and an eye twitch, now might not be the best time to start a cake business for you. It might make sense to wait until your little ones are older.
I have 4 kids, so I totally get it. I actually considered quitting altogether because of the stress it was causing me. So mean to kids, etc. But I realized it wasn't necessarily the cake that was stressing me out, it was my time management. Terrible at it sometimes! So I came up with a bit of a schedule that I stick to, and if I have extra time, I will do some of the next day's work to keep myself ahead of the game. As you know...anything can come up at anytime with the kids SO it's better to keep ahead! ie If you think you'll be able to get your icing made Tues, get the butter out Mon night, etc.
So I made a promise to myself and my family that I would get the BIG majority, if not ALL, of the work done while they were at school so that this would impact our family life as little as possible. THAT'S what it would take for me to keep doing this. I have a VERY limited amount of work for the summer....4 kids home...FORGET IT!!!!! You are your own boss and can do what you want. Don't be afraid to say no!
I do have a VERY busy May set up with cake/cakes every weekend. I will see how this goes and it will determine if I ever allow myself to get that busy again! lol Here's to my sanity! I have already started working on my details for one of the cakes due May 4. The more I get done now = less stress later. Normally I might only do 2 or three cakes/month. May is 8!
Monday....Make a list of everything you need to accomplish for the week, ingredients you need to buy, how
many recipes of this and that you need to make..... If that involves items that need to dry, do these
Tues.....Put dry mixes together and finish up any items that need to dry. Get necessary amount of butter out for your baking Weds morning. If you won't bake until later Weds, get butter out Weds morning.
Weds....Bake and freeze. Get out butter Weds night for icing making Thursday morning.
Thursday...Make icings and fillings. Thurs night, remove cakes from freezer and put in fridge. Cover and
decorate cake board (this is one of those things that I used to wait to do when I was getting ready
to put cake together and it ALWAYS took longer than planned and stressed me out.
Friday....AM: Fill and crumb coat cakes, place in fridge. I ice my cakes smooth when my littlest is napping
and the other three aren't around because it REALLY stresses me out! I turn into a complete
B#%*H! I have also found that if I can get a FAIRLY smooth coat on my cakes and put them in the
fridge to get very firm, I can go over the gaps, spaces, bubbles, not so sharp corners with fresh, soft
icing and get a pretty stress free smooth coat. Refrigerate til firm, cover with fondant if desired. Stay up late friday doing the decorating for Saturday pickup.
I hope that helps! You can do it.....
PS I just opened you cake pic and my 6yo said "COOL.....Is that Bambi?!" So you are on the right track!!!
AShannon, your cake looks great!
You said you have a stress related eye twitch. Perhaps trying to get the stress under control before delving into a business might be helpful. Your stress is just going to escalate if you add a business to the mix. I am saying this from experience. I don't have a cake business, but I had a small craft business, I was involved in many personal projects, volunteering, and other stuff, homeschooling a very intense child, caring for 3 parents with major health problems, etc. I get that stress related eye twitch too, as well as other health problems due to the stress. I have actually had to stop making cakes and doing my other crafts for a year now. Saying no to people is also very difficult for me, but it has gotten easier over time. It makes me sad and I miss making the cakes and my crafts, but I realized I need to focus on the family stuff and my health.
Unless you absolutely need the money right now, perhaps just focus on eliminating some of the major stress in your life, or at least get it under control, before trying to make a business. In the meantime, make cakes for fun/practice as you are able to fit it into your schedule without it adding too much stress. Maybe to add to your portfolio you could get some dummy cakes. You can work on them when you have time and not have the pressure of it being perishable. You can research and work on your business plan and advertising ideas little by little. (keep it all well organized so you can easily find it when you finally start the business.) When things settle down a bit more you will have a lot more confidence and the business aspect will be set.
Good luck and take care of yourself!
Too much, too soon. If you are new to decorating it is too soon to be starting a business. Enjoy your kids, do some cakes for fun for yourself, your family, whatever appeals to you as you are learning. Once you have it down pat, your recipes, your schedule, how to manage your stress (great ideas above), then re-assess with your family to see if you have the time to start a business. While you are practicing you can do some research into starting a business, doing a business plan, figuring out all of your costs and how much time things actually take. Then when you and your family are ready, you can implement it without stress. Caking really is tough with 3 small kids at home, it really doesn't mesh well. I think most do it during naps and when the kids are in bed and that doesn't work well for you to get a good nights sleep. Just take a step back and have fun with it for now. If you do decide to jump into it, at least make sure you have figured out all of your costs and accurate time so that you are pricing appropriately so you are getting a good hourly wage to make the stress and time away from your kids worthwhile.
ARunning a business is basically the equivalent of two full-time jobs. If stress is already an issue I recommend at least waiting until the kids are all in school, especially a food business that can have significant fixed overhead (insurance, license fees, etc.).
Your kids are only small once, but you can open a business at any time.
AI just want to give you a hug. I have 6 kids (and homeschool them) ranging in age from 2-13. One thing that helped me was to sit down with a piece of paper & a pen to list my responsibilities I have to my family and their activities. Then I decided how many cake projects I could handle in a week without it negatively affecting my kids or syressing me out so much that it sucks the fun out of it. Once I had that number, I made myself stick to it..it can be hard to turn down orders, but you know yourself, what you can handle, and what your other commitments are. I'm only doing a few a month now, that's as busy as I can be to remain sane with my other commitments. I agree with the others that have said your kids are only small once, that's the attitude I have right now. I'm starting slow, with the goal of having a full time business when my kids are older. Maybe a scaled back approach would help you right now, with an end goal of something larger. Hugs to you, keep your chin up, it doesn't have to be all or nothing!:)
Wow!! Thank you everyone for all your great advice! I think that I am going to slow down and really work on getting all my recipes and timing down. I also just need to work on getting my life more organized! I think I just stress too much about small things like the house being a mess all the time. I am going to sit down and work out a cleaning schedule and meal plan today because I think that will help relieve a lot of stress. I thought I was in good shape with this cake and I think I would have been ok if I had planned out my ingredients better. I think I went to the store at least 3 times to get more supplies! Next time I will make sure I have more than what I need so I don't have to keep stopping to go to the store. Also I need to work on my structural support because if I didn't have my head disaster I would have been able to finish the night before delivery. I actually just signed up for the Carftsy bobblehead class so I am hoping that will help me learn how to build a good structure for my 3D cakes. My other problem was that on top of the cake I decided to add 12 cupcakes with 12 different woodland animal toppers to my already large enough undertaking! I just wanted everything to be special for this poor little guy. I am feeling so much better after a good nights sleep and all your wonderfully helpful responses. Thank you everyone! <3
I am glad you are reconsidering your time. It sounds like a lot of organizing will be helpful for you in a lot of ways. All those extra runs for supplies, with 3 kids in tow would make me twitch also. Keep in mind as you do cakes for fun, donation or selling to be realistic with your time and what your actual expenses are. The 12 individual custom toppers to go with the carved cake sound lovely and for a very good cause. But at what cost to you and your health and time with your family. Even if it is a good cause be realistic about what you do.