nancylee61 Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 11:12am
post #1 of

Hi all,

I am more of a baker than a decorator. I have made some special occasion cakes and I like it, but they are the buttercream or simple fondant type cakes. I don't see myself making princesses, or characters, the kind of cakes kids like and parents will pay a fortune for. I can see myself making tiered cakes, covered with buttercream or fondant, or ruffled fondant. I like simple and elegant. I need practice in making them look better, but I do pottery, so I can already do a lot of the flowers, etc. Nothing fancy, though.

 

I am in a rural resort area, and there is already one baker here who has a small shop. She gets most of the business. I have heard a lot about her cakes and some love them, and others swear they taste of shortening, which I know she uses. Another woman who I was going to team up with is just starting - she has a deli, of sorts, with a bakery, and has made a few cakes. I saw them, and they were not the quality I would be willing to sell.

 

A third bakery 1/2 hour away has the business from most of the big resorts and makes about 10 wedding cakes a weekend, plus other cakes. Her cakes are mostly pretty simple, nothing like the ones I see on here, and I know she uses boxed mixes. 

 

So...considering these people in my area, and that I am in a resort area, I am wondering if I would be able to make a living doing this in a few years with hard work and practice. I am a believer in organic ingredients as much as I can, I have my own free range chickens for eggs, can get organic butter, etc. I hate the taste of shortening, so wouldn't use it in my frosting. I know it is important to use in the summer, but I just can't stand the taste. 

 

Any ideas, advice would be great. I am a very hard worker, and love to learn, so I am not daunted by how much there is to learn, just whether it would be worth putting in the time.

 

Best,

Nancy

17 replies
Godot Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 11:22am
post #2 of

ABusiness plan!

nancylee61 Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 11:27am
post #3 of

Hi,

I know I need a business plan and to get the information from this area. Where would I get this?

nancy

BatterUpCake Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 12:00pm
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The fact that you would be offering something different...organic, fresh..that is a good start. The first place I would start is checking into the regulations of your area for licensing, insurance costs, can you bake from home and if not the cost of renting a commercial kitchen. Talk with the event planners at the resort to see if they would welcome a new vendor that offers healthier alternatives and if they ever get requests for that. And pricing!!! Find out what your competitors charge for similar cakes, price out your recipes, how long it takes you to make them.... including cleaning, shopping, planning...and how much do you think your time is worth. Figure in the cost of your overhead...if baking at home that would include utilities and a bit for wear and tear on your appliances. That should keep you busy for awhile...lol

DeliciousDesserts Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 12:20pm
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ABefore any of that, I would do market research. Is there enough business to go around? If you are in a rural spot, your area may saturated. You may be the best, but do you have enough capital to last the time it would take for one of the others to fold?

Start asking strangers to critique your cakes. Do they like it? How much would they be willing to pay?

BatterUpCake Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 12:24pm
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 


Start asking strangers to critique your cakes. Do they like it? How much would they be willing to pay?

You know most of them will say they would be willing to pay $30 (even if it's a $100 cake) except the ones that have purchased or made custom cakes before....

DeliciousDesserts Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 12:31pm
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A*facepalm*

Really? Do you think I am suggestion she make up a custom design & ask people to offer pricing suggestions?

Market research! I'm talking sample bite size. The pricing will still be off. The point is to find out [B]if[/B] people would seriously consider purchasing. Asking if they like it is one thing (& important valuable information). Asking how much they'd pay is a whole other.

nancylee61 Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 12:47pm
post #9 of

AThank you all! I know this question has been asked before, but I couldn't find anything about a rural tourist area, and organic ingredients!

Stitches Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 1:54pm

Ask a bigger question and you'll get your answer. How many people make a living to support themselves decorating cakes? The percentages can't be very high.........I'd guess less than 25%. There are tons and tons of threads here about pricing and people selling cakes illegally hurting real businesses, etc... It's just NOT an easy business to support yourself in!

 

Organic although great, costs you more to use, therefore your prices will be higher than your competitors based on your costs. There has to be enough people in your area that value organic and are willing to pay the extra money for it. I've never seen a bakery survive off this concept for many years.

 

What makes a business successful are the immeasurable factors of the owners personality, in my opinion.

MimiFix Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 2:57pm

The AIB has some info on cake statistics. You'll need to research the primary sources. FYI, you must use a commercial kitchen. New York has a cottage food law but excludes the kinds of specialty cakes you want to make. 

cakefat Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 3:46pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches 

Ask a bigger question and you'll get your answer. How many people make a living to support themselves decorating cakes? The percentages can't be very high.........I'd guess less than 25%. There are tons and tons of threads here about pricing and people selling cakes illegally hurting real businesses, etc... It's just NOT an easy business to support yourself in!

 

 

Yes, I wonder this too- how many (full time) cake decorators can make a living to support themselves (without the aid of other jobs or other sources of income)?

 

And do the majority of these cake decorators who can & do making a living- have a storefront or a home business? And what else do they make to sell, if not just cakes?  Granted, what is enough to support one person somewhere may not be enough in another place, it's all relative, I guess. 

 

I have a feeling there is better $ to be made in teaching the classes, getting on the popular cake decorating class circuit and just doing that rather than selling cakes? It seems like so many 'well known' decorators go around the world and teach for months on end, so they probably aren't making a lot of cakes for private clients anymore- if at all. 

The Cake Shoppe Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 4:52pm

As beautiful a dream as being an entirely self-supporting cake decorator is, in most areas it just isn't feasible.  At the very least you will need to go 'full bakery' and offer many other baked goods (in addition to custom cakes) to float the likely huge overhead having a storefront will entail.  Bakeries are one of the HARDEST ways to make a living!  Long hours for little pay.  Hard work and dedication can take you far but as many of the OPs stated, market saturation is working against many.

Finding a niche market (and you may have one) is critical.  I would suggest mucho homework--  Mucho. 

jason_kraft Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 5:06pm

AIt's certainly possible to make enough money to support yourself with just custom cakes if you have the combination of the right competitive advantage and a large enough local target market willing to pay for them. You don't even need a retail storefront, although a commercial kitchen would probably be required given CFL restrictions in many states.

nancylee61 Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 5:31pm

AThank you, all. I will actually be retired in 3 years, so I won't need 50k a year. Maybe 25k or so. I have an apartment we are redoing, so I can outfit it for a commercial kitchen.

I appreciate all of your help, Best, Nancy

howsweet Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 8:17pm

I would suggest being on top of what's happening with the cottage food law in your state. There's a trend towards passing very lenient legislation for cottage food bakeries across the nation. What this results in is competition from people who charge so little for their work that they are impossible to compete with if you need to make a profit. So be sure you're aware of what's going on with that. And good luck!
 

BatterUpCake Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 8:44pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

*facepalm*

Really? Do you think I am suggestion she make up a custom design & ask people to offer pricing suggestions?

Market research! I'm talking sample bite size. The pricing will still be off. The point is to find out if people would seriously consider purchasing. Asking if they like it is one thing (& important valuable information). Asking how much they'd pay is a whole other.

I was not saying that at all. I was just commenting on how people in the market don't have any idea what custom cakes cost. Something often discussed on this site, how people want a custom cake and think it's only worth $30. It was meant tongue in cheek...although I never understood where that phrase came from..

Norasmom Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 11:28pm

If you are in a resort area, if it's near a beach, you should consider making things that will travel well in a cooler.  Also, our resort area here (Cape Cod) has the same people come back every summer for the entire summer or part of it.  Those kinds of people would make super repeat customers, but you'd have to promote yourself somehow.  Without a storefront this might be difficult.

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