Contracted Wedding Cake Decorator

Business By CONFECTIONERIE Updated 15 Oct 2014 , 5:31pm by babyblue113

CONFECTIONERIE Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 5:56am
post #1 of 27

Hi y'all.


I recently applied for a pastry chef position at a local caterer and I didn't get the job but the owner offered me a part time contracted wedding cake decorating position.  I'm a VERY new business and I feel like this would definitely drive up my client base/give me more opportunities to decorate but I'm just curious if this in a normal thing.  Have any of you guys done/heard of stuff like this?  I'm meeting with the owner this Friday to discus the position and I have no clue if she's going to have it all planned out or if we're hashing it out together.  Any words of advice or good questions for me to ask?




26 replies
-K8memphis Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 12:14pm
post #2 of 27

could be a very nice and lucrative position


so you would be decorating at her location?


i hope she can provide:

  • a dedicated area tha'st neither too hot from the catering cooking nor too steamy from the dishwashing--especially for decorating time
  • you need a nice big table--sometimes a problem on fridays is a busy place
  • room in the walk in for cakes where onions and garlic cannot prevail
  • you'll wanna use plastic boxes for walk-in storage and can serve double duty for delivery caterers of course load their walk-ins to the roof on the weekend and the cakes need that protection
  • who's gonna deliver--typically the decorator needs to do this for obvious reasons if you have a suitable vehicle--and you can so deliver a ton of cake in a sedan --no need for a minivan-
  • in this regard there's really no need to split the delivery charge--it should all be yours due to the need for your expertise and the costs/risks of the transport--if you can negotiate that
  • as far as wages go--? --hourly or by the cake--how fast are you? is her baker baking the cakes or is that all on you? so many variables


hope all goes very well--would love to hear how it goes if you want


i might think of something else--gotta go hit the pool--

ddaigle Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 12:43pm
post #3 of 27

Another thing...determine what you want/need to do your job successfully.  For example, now that I have a sheeter, I would never work for anyone who didn't have that piece of equipment.   That, for "me" would be a deal breaker.  


Normally the work "contracted"  relives the owners from many "employer" responsibilities and puts a lot of responsibilities on you.   You may have to buy everything and they will reimburse you.   Ask lots of questions.

ddaigle Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 4:13pm
post #5 of 27

And make sure he knows the difference between an independent contractor...and employee...As Stitches, many employers hire "contactors" to avoid the "employee" rules & fees....BUT try to treat you as an "employee".    You are in charge of your hours, dress code, taxes, etc.    Check out the all the rules to being an "independent contractor".


Sounds like a "sweet" deal!  Good luck and let us know how the meeting goes.

CONFECTIONERIE Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 11:06pm
post #6 of 27


  • you need a nice big table--sometimes a problem on fridays is a busy place
  • room in the walk in for cakes where onions and garlic cannot prevail
  • you'll wanna use plastic boxes for walk-in storage and can serve double duty for delivery caterers of course load their walk-ins to the roof on the weekend and the cakes need that protection
  • who's gonna deliver--typically the decorator needs to do this for obvious reasons if you have a suitable vehicle--and you can so deliver a ton of cake in a sedan --no need for a minivan-
  • in this regard there's really no need to split the delivery charge--it should all be yours due to the need for your expertise and the costs/risks of the transport--if you can negotiate that
  • as far as wages go--? --hourly or by the cake--how fast are you? is her baker baking the cakes or is that all on you? so many variables


These are all awesome questions to ask!  I'll definitely add these to my list!  I feel like this will probably be the first meeting of several to gather all the variables and then write up an actual contract.




That seems a little shady to me. It doesn't seem like there really was a position for employment. Instead they want an independent contractor to avoid the costs of employment.


But that's fine, since you wrote you already have a business. I'd definitely go for it. Isn't it just being their wedding cake provider? What it seems like is they want a wholesale source to buy wedding cakes from. I'd take it as long as you keep your prices profitable and don't let them negotiate the heck out of things so your on the losing end of things. Turn the situation around and see them for what they are and negotiate accordingly.


As a wholesaler now, you need to make sure you base your pricing on them purchasing in volume. If they only buy a couple wedding cakes from you per-year they shouldn't get a great deal from you.....or it won't be worth it to you. You should be going to the negotiating table with a bigger list of demands than them. Write up your list and stick to it.


I met several of the other applicants for the actual pastry position but since I'm not classically trained (I'm completely self taught) they felt as though I didn't have the skill set for a commercial kitchen.  I brought in my portfolio of decorated cakes and since none of the other applicants can do cakes the "compromise" of sorts was the contracted cake position.


The wholesale point is definitely something to inquire about.  They do about 30 weddings a year so the biggest point of the conversation will definitely be pay rates and cost.  


Thanks for all the great input!  You guys have definitely given me a lot to work off of.  I'm also pretty young (I'm only 22) and I'm worried that I might get kinda bulldozed, for lack of a better term, if I come in with too many demands.  The owner of the catering shop used to be an instructor at the New England Culinary Institute, so sometimes I get really nervous around her.  I'll be on my A-game though!  But I'll be sure to let y'all know how it goes!

JaeRodriguez Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 12:52am
post #7 of 27

AGood luck!

Stitches Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 3:25am
post #8 of 27

Ah.........more details do make all the difference. I'd like to retract several things I wrote now based on this new info. and update my take on the situation.


30 weddings a year is decent for a cater, also a cater who employs a full-time pastry chefs/thumbs up, plus they are a former instructor, again thumbs up. So I'd guess this cater is no dummy! I'm sure she's thinking things out right now to figure out how best to do this and I'd let her take complete control of the whole meeting and situation on Friday. Don't worry too much about getting bulldozed, you probably will be....if you weren't, than I'd think something wasn't right. This person isn't some idiot playing cater.  Try not to accept/agree to anything on the spot since you'll be nervous. It's perfectly o.k. and professional to ask if you can think things over, over the weekend.


The things that'd I'd focus on now would be how you can best work together really well with the new pastry chef. You'll probably will be working under their direction. That really is the best of all worlds (imo). That will keep the pc looking out for your product and wanting you there to do the cakes. They've got enough business for a pc you might be able to pick up extra hours assisting and in time they might hire you instead of doing the independent contractor route.


  • The pc will look out for the cake in the coolers, don't worry about that on Friday.
  • There won't be a delivery charge situation here.


Things that I'd now focus on are:


  • Who will sell the bride the wedding cake design? Will you participate in it? If not, what if they accept something your not able to do?
  • Pricing structure. But let them make the suggestion if it's hourly or per cake, or a percentage, etc....
  • Would there actually be a written contract with you? I'd be surprised if they signed any agreement.
  • Choosing when you work on the cake. You're not going to want to do it there during the heat of the day, if possible. It won't be easy to get a table to yourself and it could be really, really hot.



Sounds like this is a really good job/break for you, congrats!! This could open doors for your career. I don't think you'll gain independent cake clients from this but you'll build a great portfolio and gain a lot .......etc...

CONFECTIONERIE Posted 19 Oct 2013 , 1:51am
post #9 of 27

So I had the meeting today and it went well overall.  I was expecting the owner to have it a bit more laid out as far as what she wanted from me.  But basically she wants me to provide them with cakes, and then they'll tack on another $200 or so dollars onto my prices.  She wants me to provide her with a sample cake option matrix that she can factor the clients price onto for their catering menu, ie I make a three tiered buttercream cake for 100 people, sell it to the caterer for $400 and then the caterer sells it for the client for $600 (which includes delivery, cutting fee, etc).  And there will be upcharges for any "decor."  I won't be using their kitchen or their ingredients, but if it's a busy weekend (two+ cakes in one weekend) I have the option of using their kitchen after negotiating a fee, ie 10% off my selling price in exchange for using their kitchen, or if I need a special ingredient sourced they'll help me with it.


The caterer also wants me to focus on buttercream cakes, specifically Swiss buttercreams.  I have had VERY LITTLE practice with buttercreams so I'll really need to crank out a lot of practice cakes.  She also expressed an interest in having a portfolio accessible to clients so that they can see the options available.  So I guess that it'll be very "cookie cutter" so to speak.  Option A, Option B, Option C.  With custom upgrades available.


Thoughts?  Not sure how I feel about it.  I'm going to go through with it just 'cause I need the practice.  And the clients will know that I'm the one providing the cakes, I'll be able to have cards out at the actual venue, maybe even a cutesy little plaque or something.  The whole meeting took less than 15 minutes which really surprised me.
-K8memphis Posted 19 Oct 2013 , 2:14am
post #10 of 27

honestly doing cookie cutter cake for someone who will feed you their customers is a brilliant way to go--take it!


constantly doing custom cakes has the potential to eat you up and leave you fried and crusty--a little burnt around the edges--not in all cases but it is not uncommon--and you still get to do some custom work too with the upgrades--awesome--


the biggest issue is communication--being sure you get the right details relayed back to you--


you can get real fast & efficient doing this which obviously are vital skills



Stitches Posted 19 Oct 2013 , 3:15am
post #11 of 27

I love when people come back and tell us how things went, thanks.


I'm totally with K8, I think this is a GREAT opportunity. Your totally free to be your own business with-out having to go out and find clients.This exactly how I sell cakes to country clubs, I wish I had dozens of clients like this!! It's the easiest way I make money! If you want a sneak peak at how I've got this set up message me. Occasionally I'll have questions about the cake order, but so far it's never been a problem. I get the orders well in advance all by email, so I can spot any problems ahead of time. The "problems" are usually just clarifications where they haven't gotten all the details from the client.


I can understand your hesitations because your still pretty young (22).....but this really can be a great thing for you. 30 weddings a year averaging around $500. each pays your overhead on your business and it leaves you mentally  and physically free to pay attention to developing more business. This is a gift, imo.

CONFECTIONERIE Posted 19 Oct 2013 , 4:22am
post #12 of 27

Thanks for the input!  It's extremely helpful to hear what more experienced decorators have to say regarding this situation.  I think the plan is to make a portfolio of the options and then when custom upgrades are requested I would actually be present during meetings/discussions with the client, which would definitely help eliminate any big communication issues.  I did some research on Swiss buttercreams today and I plan on making several practice cakes/cupcakes so I can get the hang of it.  Thankfully this is all planning for next wedding season so I have some time to get the technique down.  Thank you for all your helpful input!





Thank you so much!  This clears up A LOT of my hesitations!  Being so new to the business and in a relatively "rural" area there aren't a lot of resources that are easily accessible to me and this thread has helped me see the bigger picture.  I'll probably be messaging you in the future Stitches.  I'd love to learn more about your process and maybe once I have my cake matrix made you might be able to take a look at it for me?
Thanks to everyone who participated in this thread!  Much appreciated!
costumeczar Posted 20 Oct 2013 , 6:43pm
post #13 of 27

Go talk to an accountant before signing on for this to see if it does fall into the realm of a contractor. There are all kinds of restrictions on employee vs. contractor, and a lot of employers hire people as contractors because they don't have to pay employment taxes the same way so it's cheaper for them. I'm not even going to try to tell you whether this situation is legit as far as being a contractor goes because I'm not an employment attorney.


I do know that it only takes one fail in the criteria for the IRS to say that you've been misclassified. Here are some links:

MBalaska Posted 20 Oct 2013 , 7:57pm
post #17 of 27

Oh.... then I didn't get her comment.  I thought she meant that they wanted mostly cakes decorated with just buttercream on the OUTSIDE of the cake - old school style & piping.

Stitches Posted 21 Oct 2013 , 2:35am
post #22 of 27

The OP has a website for her business (so I assume she has set up a legal business) the caterer wants to buy cakes from the OP's business.


The OP mentioned she'd be making and delivering the cakes from her own kitchen, not working at the caterers kitchen. The OP than bills the caterer as a wholesale client (gets the caterers tax exempt # on file) and pays taxes herself as part of her own business. There doesn't seem to be anything remotely like an employee employer relationships here. It's an retailer wholesaler relationship.

costumeczar Posted 21 Oct 2013 , 2:48am
post #23 of 27

AIt sounds okay,but the contractor thing always raises red flags, so it wouldn't hurt to ask a tax person instead of a bunch of random people on a public forum. Or the person who wants to hire you as a contractor,since she probably won't see anything wrong with the arrangement. Financially it sounds great,,you just want to make sure the legalities and tax stuff is all being done right.

Dessertsbyj Posted 8 Apr 2014 , 3:17am
post #25 of 27

AConfectionerir I am very interested to know how this arrangement is working for you. I am in a similar situation.

Dessertsbyj Posted 8 Apr 2014 , 3:56am
post #26 of 27

AI have been working in as a Cake Decorating independent contractor with a bakery owned by a catering company since January. I've been decorating speciality cakes for the bakery while the previous owner is coming in to decorate wedding cakes. The previous owner will only work on wedding cake until May. I have been doing cakes for almost 8 years and have a pretty successful cake business in my town. I also decorate wedding and corporate cakes with my own business. I'm thinking that when the previous owner finally retires they will look to me for their wedding cakes also. However I get very busy during wedding season also. I work (decorate) out of the office part of the commercial bakery. I have been only doing the art work and decorating; they have a baker and also a decorator who torts, fills and ices the buttercream cakes. I will do the fondant part if they have an order for fondant. I have been working by the hour. They have a base price for the cakes and add on a charge for the art work of $25 per hour for any work up to an hour and $25 for every extra hour of art work. They pay me $15 per hour (again I am only doing the artwork) I'm trying to decide if I should also leave in May and concentrate on my own business or adding on to my business as a Cake Decorating independent Contractor. I also teach cake decorating and fondant sculpting classes locally and already know a few good decorators that I could bring in to work as my employees. On a side note: I have been a renter at the bakery from the previous owner for over 4 years when she sold her business in December to the new owners. Since they also brought in their catering business into the bakery I have decided to leave as a renter at the end of April. I have found another successful commercial bakery and have already have talked to the owner and she said she would also like to use me for my artwork. So it seems like this contractor business is already taking on a life of its own. The current bakery owners has stated repeatley that they want me to stay on as their decorator. I also think that I should ask for $20 per hour which would give them a 20% up charge on the artwork. Help, advise, suggestions is appreciated. Thank you

babyblue113 Posted 15 Oct 2014 , 5:31pm
post #27 of 27

This cake decorating independent contracting is very interesting to me....hmmmmmm

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