Still Struggling With "style"

Decorating By ellavanilla Updated 9 Aug 2013 , 6:08am by morganchampagne

ellavanilla Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 5:14pm
post #1 of 12

Hey guys,

I'm in kind of a holding pattern and I'm looking for your insight.

 

I think I'm a good baker and I feel like a very creative person, but Im struggling to create cakes which fill my personal creative needs while meeting my client's, too.

 

I know this might sound weird to you. I am not a natural artist, but I do have a creative point of view. I personally like things rough and a little vintage looking. I love cakes with rough icing and a bit frowsy looking. 

 

I'll tell you what I'm struggling with right now. I have a customer who wants another "100 cake" (a celebration cake in the shape of 100). They have asked it to have a San Diego theme. 

 

What I want to do is make it look a little edgy, with a more abstract postcard look. What I feel like I should do is a bunch of clean cut fondant images stuck on like a collage. 

 

I want business! I want to be creative. I guess my question is, when do I give up on being a cover band and switch to my original music, and how did you do that?

 

jen

11 replies
MBalaska Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 5:44pm
post #2 of 12

Hope your Cake career does well for you. Have you noticed that in several pastry shops they have a few styles that they do incredibly well.  When you go through their photo galleries you find that their best cakes/cupcakes are duplicated numerous times. They may be different colors, different flavors, slight variations in decorations, but obviously lots of their customers like the same thing. Then there will be a few really out of the ordinary unique creations that someone has paid them to create.

 

""when do I give up on being a cover band and switch to my original music, and how did you do that?""   When ever you want to, why not today?

 

It will be interesting to see what the business owning bakers on CakeCentral advise you.   Good Baking.

MimiFix Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 5:53pm
post #3 of 12

Hi Jen, can you sketch both ideas and let the customer choose? ... When I started my home-based business I made only healthier products with whole grains, very little sweetener, and rustic looking cakes and pastries. When I moved into a retail store front, my overhead increased dramatically. Customers came in looking for sugar cookies, white bread, and iced chocolate cakes. If I wanted those customers, too, I had to expand my product line - even if these products were not part of my personal choice. Eventually I was able to offer both kinds, even though my heart leaned in one direction.

ellavanilla Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 6:30pm
post #4 of 12

Maybe I'm over thinking all of it! 

 

I dunno. I want my cakes to be something really special. I just have people pleaser disease and i'm not sure i'm special enough! oh low self esteem you horrible mistress!

sixinarow Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 6:36pm
post #5 of 12

If you feel like your hands are tied when it comes to customers, maybe doing a few cakes that you design solely to your own liking for your portfolio would give them some ideas as to what you can do. If they're not used to custom, other than a name or colors being added to cakes, it may not even occur to them that you can do amazing custom cakes or what design ability you have. Some people are very visual, so if you have more to show them, they might be more willing to let you have free rein in designing their cake.

Keep your chin up girly, you do great work! thumbs_up.gif

cupadeecakes Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 7:31pm
post #6 of 12

You're perfectly special.. you're Ella Vanilla!  I find expressing my true "artistic" side difficult when it comes to some cakes.  Clients will come to you with a certain cake design in their head and it's up to you to make it a reality, regardless of your personal style.  I have turned down cakes because I thought they were so far outside my style range (they were going to be UGGGG-Lee!), but any cake I make still bears my artistic mark.

 

Oh, and regarding making your cakes special.  I want all my cakes to be special too, but what I have found is that sometimes the client's budget doesn't allow the cake to be as special as I want it to be.  It can be excruciating to NOT spent the extra time / materials because the client couldn't afford it.  It's why bakers wind up losing money by going the extra mile.  I still do that on occasion.  A few months back I got an order for a "basic, simple" banjo cake.  I decided it was worth it for me to go the extra mile.  I knew the clients would be amazed and I could later use the images to gain other clients.

 

I agree with some of the others... get some styrfoam dummies and design a couple of cakes that are all you.  Display them prominently when speaking to future clients and they might think it's a good fit for their cake too.  Good Luck!

ellavanilla Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 8:10pm
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cupadeecakes 

You're perfectly special.. you're Ella Vanilla!  I find expressing my true "artistic" side difficult when it comes to some cakes.  Clients will come to you with a certain cake design in their head and it's up to you to make it a reality, regardless of your personal style.  I have turned down cakes because I thought they were so far outside my style range (they were going to be UGGGG-Lee!), but any cake I make still bears my artistic mark.

 

Oh, and regarding making your cakes special.  I want all my cakes to be special too, but what I have found is that sometimes the client's budget doesn't allow the cake to be as special as I want it to be.  It can be excruciating to NOT spent the extra time / materials because the client couldn't afford it.  It's why bakers wind up losing money by going the extra mile.  I still do that on occasion.  A few months back I got an order for a "basic, simple" banjo cake.  I decided it was worth it for me to go the extra mile.  I knew the clients would be amazed and I could later use the images to gain other clients.

 

I agree with some of the others... get some styrfoam dummies and design a couple of cakes that are all you.  Display them prominently when speaking to future clients and they might think it's a good fit for their cake too.  Good Luck!

 

Thank you for the sweet comments. I'm working on it?  teehee. 

 

I'm going to work on some personal cakes this weekend. I decided last night while dreaming of this stupid cake that has me struggling (today).

 

thank you all for the encouragement!

liz at sugar Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 12:49am
post #8 of 12

AThis may be a silly question, but do you have to have your creative needs fulfilled through your work? Or is that why you have chosen this to be your profession? I'm old enough that I have had plenty of "creative" jobs, and just want to focus on making money at work. Do you have any hobbies where you could express yourself creatively?

Liz

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 1:02am
post #9 of 12

I find pinterest is amazing for creative block, lol. I have easily 5k pictures saved to a private board that are purely for inspiration.

Everything from other decorator's cakes, to home decor, teacups, landscapes and paintings.

I have an order in a few months for a vintage cake, no other stipulations, it was making me crazy lol. I started browsing through and ended up with some really cool ideas. None of which are copied from anyone else's work, but having something visual really helped me.

MBalaska Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 2:21am
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes 
 I have easily 5k pictures saved to a private board that are purely for inspiration.

My computer only has a few hundreds of photos, but looking at them I see the color combinations, the balance of the decorations, how people place sprays and bows and drapes.  Not that I am at that level, & I don't really need to be for friends and family. Yet it is pleasant, interesting, and I might find one item on a professional cake that I may try out.  For example the photo of your gender reveal cupcake looks interesting. I'd never seen that before, very cute idea.

AZCouture Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 3:51am
post #11 of 12

If this is your sole income and you must meet quotas, then I'd probably make dummies or find a hobby to satisfy your creative needs while filling orders for things you don't like. If you have some wiggle room, or know for sure you'll fill dates if you turn away cakes you don't want to do, then do that. I generally won't make a cake from a picture someone brings me, unless it's my own original design. I worked pretty hard the last couple of years pushing and pushing the emphasis on custom only, that I've finally gotten there. I make sure people understand that I'm a designer, and I'm not the person to come to for swiss dots and ribbon bordered cakes. I don't look on Pinterest or google cake images for inspiration, I google fabric and color swatches, flowers, wallpaper, wedding dresses, party invitations, etc. for inspiration. Anything but other cakes. I think this is key if you want to find your style. Look at things that are, well...stylish. If you're constantly looking at other cakes, then you're going to find yourself, whether consciously or subconsciously, copying what you see.

morganchampagne Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 6:08am
post #12 of 12

AThe dummies have saved me. I used to not do a cake unless I had an order (other than practicing piping and things) I find that now I really can flex my creative muscle. I was like you..no faith in my creative ability.

Truth is everybody's an artist. As cheesy as that sounds. We all have a style. The above advice is the best. I one time went to Home Depot and grabbed a bunch of those paint things for color inspiration. I google patterns, curtains, textures, anything. You would really be surprised at how creative you actually can be if you just believe!

Also you can take pictures of these cakes and maybe your customers can be inspired by them! This could allow you to incorporate your creative pieces into your business. Best of luck to you!

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