just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 5:06am
post #1 of

ASo after seeing many dessert tables it got me thinking, would it be worth it to start doing JUST dessert tables? I would help develop and/or carry out my client's theme with homemade candies, brownies, chocolates, and of course cakes. But my business would be solely based on dessert tables. I know they are A LOT of work, but I love them! I love the idea of planning the set up and arranging the treats to go with the theme.

So, to my fellow bakers I ask, does this seem like a good idea? Keep in mind I do have a "regular" job and would be doing this as fun side job, doing one or two a month. I know I would need to be licensed first.

Any tips or suggestions? Thank you!

47 replies
kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 5:29am
post #2 of

like dessert catering? I love the idea! I don't know how profitable it would be!

I used to work the Saturday buffet dinner at a very fancy private club, and 6-7 of us would make desserts for 3 days, (8 hour shifts mostly) for about 300 people.

 

my advice is, if you plan on doing large parties, more than 50 then get someone to work with you.

3-4 pieces of mini desserts (including slices)per person.

always have something ready made in the freezer for emergencies, I assure you it's not if, it's when.

consider offering "packages", for instance like a "French pastry package" or a "chocolate lovers package" or a " memory lane package". each with 6-7desserts for that theme, that way you can reasonably be stocked with ingredients you need.

even though you are not liscensed now, if you are serious about this, start investing in platters and buffet ware now! this stuff ( the good stuff), is expensive!

good luck!

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 6:20am
post #3 of

AWow!! Thank you. I hadn't thought of packages, I have been looking at prices and it seems so confusing, but a package price would be so much easier. As much as I'd love to do larger parties, I don't think that will happen soon. I am lucky enough to have worked with a wedding planner as an assistant who would certainly send work my way.

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 6:47am
post #4 of

also, another thing to consider is will you be attending the events as a chef attendee :P. If not you may have to charge rent for your wares, or even better a deposit that they can get back after your stuff is returned properly.. not something I would have thought of by myself, but after reading all the horror stories on here about people not being able to get their cake stands back.

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 12:39pm
post #5 of

AMy idea now is to set up and leave. I would stay if requested, for an extra fee and it would have to be because things needed to be refilled and in that case, I would have help as well. I have already been scouring trays, stands, different cake displays and I would charge a rental fee/deposit. I may be crazy, but I don't see a lot of overhead. I won't really have to keep a stock of everything as it would be made fresh for each event. Here's my idea of a dessert table order going smoothly (please tell me if you see any quirks or possible issues): A lady is hosting a baby shower and wants something other than typical finger foods and Wal-Mart sheet cake, so she calls me. We set up a consultation, she tastes a few items (yet to be determined) and while tasting, we discuss the theme. The mom-to-be is having a boy so I suggest a "little man" theme. I will cut items into the shape of neckties. The nursery is going to be blue, brown and white, there is my color scheme. Hostess says about 30 will attend so she chooses x amount of items and I draw up my idea of the cake table with decor. This includes a full back drop, table layout, etc. Basically I am creating the focal point for the event. Hostess pays $x.xx for deposit, the rest to be paid 2 weeks before the event. I purchase all of the items needed for decor and treats. Day of event, I set up the backdrop, table and food, then have the purchaser or other authorized person sign off, I take a few pictures and I'm out before the party starts. Am I crazy or does this sound reasonable. Clearly I'm still working on pricing and other things, but this is a rough draft.

SecretAgentCakeBaker Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 1:00pm
post #6 of

A

Original message sent by kaylawaylalayla

you can reasonably be stocked with ingredients you need

I think kaylawaylalayla was referring to keeping ingredients stocked, such as chocolate chips, flour, sugar, etc. If you go and purchase those items specifically for each party you are going to make less money and also spend more time shopping. Buy in bulk for the basics to save your money and time. Also, you should stock up on all the containers (tiny cups, plates) and any flatware (tiny dessert spoons), pop sticks/paper straws, cello bags, ribbons, etc. that you might need. Buying those items in bulk will save you a lot of money, time, and stress in the long run. I love doing parties, and it is just a hobby for me (just family), but even I will buy a lot of these kind of basics to keep on hand to save money over time. There are some great online places to buy basic supplies at huge discounts. For instance, I get 100 yard rolls of satin ribbon for less than $4 a roll at Papermart. I just get solid colors and I buy all the colors. I use them for everything and they seem to never run out! :)

Also, if you are going to do tastings, you will need to have items on hand, so find some items that can be successfully frozen so you can pull out one or two of each item. You would not want to make a new batch of lemon bars, cookies, mini cupcakes, etc. each time you have a tasting. That would cost you too much money and waste your time. Only allow a few items for a tasting, not every single item you offer.

Good luck and have fun!

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 1:19pm
post #7 of

that sounds reasonable to me, I hope someone else will have some input lol.

 

what I meant by keeping stock is keeping the ingredients around for specific desserts because you always offer them, instead of having to run out last minute for specialty ingredients because it's something you've never made every time.( and what the above poster said, she said it better than I could lol)

you're gonna have just about as much overhead as any home based baking business. (if you're doing it from home). seems like you'll need a consultation room too, and unless you have a delivery van, your gas costs will probably be higher if you need to make multiple trips.

also you'll need a place to store all these backdrops and decorations. where normal bakeries only have to include time for shopping into overhead, you will also have to include time for shopping for decorations.

 

 

and I would charge, a lot!

 

 

 

 

 

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 1:42pm
post #8 of

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by just4fun26 View Post

My idea now is to set up and leave. I would stay if requested, for an extra fee and it would have to be because things needed to be refilled and in that case, I would have help as well.

   I can't imagine what else you would have to go for lol. they might ask you to cut the cake. with small buffets like you are talking about, you really wouldn't need any help.

 

anyways, sounds like a really fun idea! I hope it works out for you! any ideas for names?

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:00pm
post #9 of

AOk, I see what you meant about stock on hand. I foresee a lot of time going into this, if it gets off the ground. I would be making everything from home. As for backdrops, I do have a place for storage and once I get some feedback from other people in my area, I'll know if this is worth doing and purchase all the little things, cups, spoons, ribbon, table cloths, etc. Thankfully those can be bought in bulk. From what research I've done, this is not a cheap thing. I've found dessert tables starting at $1,500. But I think if I market myself right, set up a solid plan and keep my pricing reasonable for my area, I just might be able to pull this off.

Ideally, I would love to have an opportunity to do this for a family member or close friend to get an idea of what I'm actually going to be doing.

I've been an assistant to a wedding planner, I've hosted so many showers I've lost count, so I have to say I'm good with time management and last minute hiccups. Many of the showers I've done I have decorated the hall, done all the food and clean up. Maybe I am being naive, but a dessert table seems like a smaller version of what I've done many times before. Except it is only sweets and I'll have to up my presentation a little.

liz at sugar Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:00pm

Get rid of the tasting idea for small events - they will just suck up your time and money.  Would you ask for a tasting for a cake for a shower?  I wouldn't.  They will need to trust that your lemon bars taste like lemon, and so on.

 

Good luck!

 

Liz

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:05pm

A

Original message sent by kaylawaylalayla

   I can't imagine what else you would have to go for lol. they might ask you to cut the cake. with small buffets like you are talking about, you really wouldn't need any help.

anyways, sounds like a really fun idea! I hope it works out for you! any ideas for names?

I had a really good name last night, but of course I forgot it. I'd like a name that refers to dessert tables so I can set myself apart.

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:05pm

AThank you all for your advice!

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:10pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by just4fun26 View Post

Ok, I see what you meant about stock on hand. I foresee a lot of time going into this, if it gets off the ground. I would be making everything from home. As for backdrops, I do have a place for storage and once I get some feedback from other people in my area, I'll know if this is worth doing and purchase all the little things, cups, spoons, ribbon, table cloths, etc. Thankfully those can be bought in bulk.
From what research I've done, this is not a cheap thing. I've found dessert tables starting at $1,500. But I think if I market myself right, set up a solid plan and keep my pricing reasonable for my area, I just might be able to pull this off.

Ideally, I would love to have an opportunity to do this for a family member or close friend to get an idea of what I'm actually going to be doing.

I've been an assistant to a wedding planner, I've hosted so many showers I've lost count, so I have to say I'm good with time management and last minute hiccups. Many of the showers I've done I have decorated the hall, done all the food and clean up. Maybe I am being naive, but a dessert table seems like a smaller version of what I've done many times before. Except it is only sweets and I'll have to up my presentation a little.

are you sure you were just an assistant, lol? sounds like you ran a hall and a catering business

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:19pm

A

Original message sent by kaylawaylalayla

are you sure you were just an assistant, lol? sounds like you ran a hall and a catering business

Such reason why I do not work with her anymore. Nice person but lacked a creative eye. I'm still an on call consultant, but since a bride thanked ME for all my hard work and catching little details making her day perfect - publicly on the planners website, I havent been called for help.

Stitches Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:33pm

First, when you say doing this from home....you do mean you have a licensed kitchen, correct?

 

Doing custom sweet tables is way more difficult than I think you realize. They are extremely hard to sell. Who's your customer? That's the problem....in my opinion.

 

1. You have the lower budget people who don't have the serving pieces and can't afford to rent them from you. Whom will buy candies and simple items else where to save money and just ask you to do a couple items for them. Those few items aren't as profitable as doing a cake and it involves more pans and more ingredients for you to own. (I do this, so I'm not saying it can't be done!)

 

2. The middle budget people get there sweets from the vendor where the party is. For example the have their wedding or shower at a venue, the venue provides the sweets or charges them extra to bring in their own sweets. So you have to find people having parties at home or small venues that don't provide food. Those people have their friends bring cookie bars and such, they buy some candies and still all they want is a few items from you. (Again, I sell to them, so it can be done)

 

3. The high end customer who has the money to do this might not shop for this themselves. They probably will have their party planner or hotel take care of purchasing everything for this. So you have to be "in" with the right people.

 

Spend some serious time google searching this topic. Look at the bakeries around you to see how they are doing this and pricing things. It's key to set minimum amounts because you don't want to sell half a batch of 10 different baked goods and take a loss on the rest of the batch not being sold (look at my website for examples if you want.). Renting trays seems simple but getting back 10 trays from one party undamaged and clean is 10x harder than getting back the tray the wedding cake sat on. You can't do tastings for 20 different items.....you'd spend you whole life doing that and once you figured out your costs for doing such, you'd not make a profit from your business.

 

I don't want to be Debbie Downer, you can do this if your super persistent, smart and well connected. I do offer sweet tables myself and love doing them too. But I personally couldn't begin to base a business on just doing them.

 

P.S. Look at my sweet table section on my website (it's just a small hint of the work I've done). I've done sweet tables for 25 plus years......my point being that I really know this topic well!

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:40pm

she specifically stated that she is not licensed and that this is a plan for the future and that she knows she will have to get liscensed before hand.

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:50pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches View Post

First, when you say doing this from home....you do mean you have a licensed kitchen, correct?

 

Doing custom sweet tables is way more difficult than I think you realize. They are extremely hard to sell. Who's your customer? That's the problem....in my opinion.

 

1. You have the lower budget people who don't have the serving pieces and can't afford to rent them from you. Whom will buy candies and simple items else where to save money and just ask you to do a couple items for them. Those few items aren't as profitable as doing a cake and it involves more pans and more ingredients for you to own. (I do this, so I'm not saying it can't be done!)

 

2. The middle budget people get there sweets from the vendor where the party is. For example the have their wedding or shower at a venue, the venue provides the sweets or charges them extra to bring in their own sweets. So you have to find people having parties at home or small venues that don't provide food. Those people have their friends bring cookie bars and such, they buy some candies and still all they want is a few items from you. (Again, I sell to them, so it can be done)

 

3. The high end customer who has the money to do this might not shop for this themselves. They probably will have their party planner or hotel take care of purchasing everything for this. So you have to be "in" with the right people.

 

Spend some serious time google searching this topic. Look at the bakeries around you to see how they are doing this and pricing things. It's key to set minimum amounts because you don't want to sell half a batch of 10 different baked goods and take a loss on the rest of the batch not being sold (look at my website for examples if you want.). Renting trays seems simple but getting back 10 trays from one party undamaged and clean is 10x harder than getting back the tray the wedding cake sat on. You can't do tastings for 20 different items.....you'd spend you whole life doing that and once you figured out your costs for doing such, you'd not make a profit from your business.

 

I don't want to be Debbie Downer, you can do this if your super persistent, smart and well connected. I do offer sweet tables myself and love doing them too. But I personally couldn't begin to base a business on just doing them.

 

P.S. Look at my sweet table section on my website (it's just a small hint of the work I've done). I've done sweet tables for 25 plus years......my point being that I really know this topic well!

good idea for minimum order! your sweet tables are beatutful stitches, I've been to your website several times, but never saw that part, they really are gorgeous!

Stitches Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:54pm

Thank-you Kaylawaylalayla, I love doing them..........if only I could make a living doing them....I'd be mighty happy going crazy with the details involved.

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 3:01pm

p.s. what would you type into google to find info onthis kind of business. i'm really interested in learning more.

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 3:03pm

http://www.sugarfashionista.com/#!home-page/mainPage

 here is another example.

and I just typed in "sweet table business" lol. sometimes I really over think googling:P

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 3:22pm

AThank you for your input Stitches. I posted this looking for honest suggestions and things I had not thought of. I do not have a licensed kitchen. That is something I will do after I do lots of research. (I am a fact based person, I actually like to research) I know these are not cheap and I think I would have a decent client base. I've been up all night looking into this and cannot seem to find anyone locally who does dessert tables. I live south of St. Louis. I am also not planning on this as being my only source of income. I will absolutely set a minimum, as like you said, I don't want a bunch of leftovers. I'm very realistic in that I know I can't expect to open a business overnight. I know there is a lot I need to do in terms of research, not only in what do I need but what do I need to do, licensing, etc. I do appreciate your input, I will certainly look at your website. I don't think you're being a Debbie Downer, I think you're a seasoned business owner and I'm sure you've known people like me with passion and a good idea fail because of lack of research and just diving in. Yes, I only want to to one, maybe two a month, but I need to be realistic, can this be profitable? Should I just do it for family and friends as a gift? These are all things I will/am taking into consideration.

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 3:28pm

AI have found tons of websites on dessert tables, tutorials. I would really like to start a business doing this. I could go crazy with themes and the setup, I'm so detail oriented and love love love decorating for events, so my own little nook with yummy treats would be heaven.

therealmrsriley Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 4:09pm

Stitches, your tables look awesome! I bet it was a lot of work but they look like something from a magazine. Great work!

SecretAgentCakeBaker Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 4:10pm

AHave you been to the Amy Atlas website? http://amyatlas.com/ She used to post a lot of behind the scenes pictures on her blog. I haven't looked at it in a while though.

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 4:34pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretAgentCakeBaker View Post

Have you been to the Amy Atlas website?
http://amyatlas.com/
She used to post a lot of behind the scenes pictures on her blog. I haven't looked at it in a while though.

that's so weird, I was just looking at that lol :P

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 7:05pm

ASeveral of my acquaintenses said a dessert table was something they would be interested in if I did start something. Also, the wedding planner I have worked with has said she would recommend me to her clients.

Several things running through my brain. First, I need to do this a few times before I actually go through all the legal stuff. I can do this for close family and close friends for free. I need to see if I am able to deliver at the caliber I feel I should.

Second, I clearly have no photos of my own dessert tables. Is it ethical for me to use other pictures I find online as inspiration for my friends to get ideas from as long as I make it clear whose design it is? As in I would post them on my blog with the designers info.

Third, I'm having issues with pricing. There aren't any bakeries that do this in the St.Louis area, so I can't use their prices as a guide so I'm not undercutting. Suggestions?

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 7:15pm

please check out the matrix I sent you.  the fashionistas do 8 $ a person with min 50 ppl. so they don't work for anything less than 400$

kaylawaylalayla Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 7:16pm

and I wouldn't use other peoples photos, jus refer your friends to pinterest and tell them to find their own inspiration.

liz at sugar Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 7:17pm

One option is to price per person, with a minimum - $10 per person, 50 person minimum.  For that you allow 4 pieces (or whatever) per person.  They choose 4 desserts off your list.  You supply them with 200 total pieces.

 

Or you can price by the piece, but it is pretty much the same thing.  You will be allowing at least 3 or 4 pieces per person, so figure out a cost for whatever size you are making.

 

Liz
 

just4fun26 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 8:21pm

A

Original message sent by kaylawaylalayla

and I wouldn't use other peoples photos, jus refer your friends to pinterest and tell them to find their own inspiration.

I know thats a touchy thing, even if I put the original decorator's name with the photo. I'll just send them to pintrest or go over pics with them. I'm also thinking about doing mini set ups with different decor to showcase my work.

Original message sent by kaylawaylalayla

please check out the matrix I sent you.  the fashionistas do 8 $ a person with min 50 ppl. so they don't work for anything less than 400$

I found one place that has a minimum of $250. I think I would charge per person and each get x amount of servings. I'll have to do more research there, see what others do.

Ive got a lot of work ahead of me, I appreciate everyone's help.

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