Am I Good Enough?

Business By rachelcak3s Updated 26 Feb 2014 , 10:24pm by MBalaska

nancylee61 Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 3:29am
post #31 of 116

If I were a paying customer, I would be happy with your army cake. I know the number of stripes is wrong, but it is cute and does the job. And it looks neat.


I would, honestly, be disappointed with the Minnie Mouse cake. I like most of it, but the major issue is that the top tier is bulging. Professionals know how to make their cakes so they don't bulge. 


Please don't get offended - my goal is to be able to make and sell cakes to a professional standard as well, and at this point, I am not ready. I am making some cakes for friends' children (only VERY good friends) and family members to practice. I also make one or two cakes a weekend, at least, just for practice. This is expensive, but if I want to get good, I have to try what I see and ask questions. I use dummies, but also real cakes because I have to see how they behave under buttercream, under fondant, today I worked with modeling chocolate and almost had a nervous breakdown trying to get my BC smooth. Groan!! My husband eats the cakes or I end up throwing them out, but I have to spend the money and practice!! I also bought the Wilton Butter cream class online since I can't get to classes in person, and it is a great class for the $19.99 and I am taking a cake decorating class at the Culinary Institute of America next week. For one day it is very expensive, but the school has a great reputation and I want to learn the right way to do things. I really can't afford it, but I can't afford to waste money on classes that are not worthwhile, and I do believe that I do best with good teachers. 


So I would say practice, practice, practice!! In the last month I have spent at least 60 or 70 hours, probably more, just working with the materials and making cakes. That is not including my working on my scratch recipes and finding awesome buttercreams that don't use crisco 'cause I hate that. I think your cakes are mostly neat, very clean, nice looking, just a few issues. So if you want to get better, you know what to do. And make sure you charge a fair price, to yourself!! I made a cake today with chocolate ruffles all around, yes, it was my first time, but it took me about 6 hours. Unless I get $120 for a cake like that, after supplies, I would be making minimum wage. Not going to do that. Nor should you. You are spending time and money to learn, so honor that. If someone doesn't want to pay you for it, they can go get a WalMart cake, and  you will find your customers who value your expertise. 




nancylee61 Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 3:31am
post #32 of 116

Oh, and the reason I don't donate or give my practice cakes to local businesses to promote my eventual business is that to save money I do use the Crisco in the frosting when practicing, but don't do that when I make a cake for anyone else. My business model is scratch cakes, all-natural and mostly organic and the Crisco doesn't fit that model. 


Just a little thing that does help me spend a bit less.


gatorcake Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 4:55pm
post #33 of 116


Originally Posted by BeesKnees578 


MOST of us are not born with the skill level of the top cakers in the industry.  They worked at it and so must we. 


No one should work for free.  Apprentices get paid (squat) and when they become Masters, they make a wage commensurate with their skills. 


I don't understand why some seem to think people should stay locked in their creative space until they experts?  That's like telling people you MUST work at the Walmart bakery while you build your skill.  Well, you won't be building your expert skills at Walmart because you will have to crank out a cake in 20 minutes.  You will get really good at icing a cake, but they aren't going to teach you how to build your skills to a high-demand, gorgeous cake-maker, style me pretty designer.  You have to do that on your own!  And how are you going to fund the learning on your own??  By charging for the cakes that you CAN make well.  As you get better, you raise your prices.


First I never said the o.p. should stay locked in their creative space until she was an expert. My assessment of the cakes were that they demonstrated deficiencies in basic skills. Yes I think you should not be selling unless you have at least mastered BASIC decorating skills. I would not have a medical student perform minor surgery, I would not have a dental student perform oral surgery, I would not have a "mechanic" who was still learning to master basic procedures work on my car, etc. etc. Are you going to entrust your car to someone who hasn't mastered a basic oil change? 


Second under you logic everyone is ready to go into business, skill level is irrelevant. If all you need is to find someone to pay for your stuff then asking the question is pointless. Will someone buy cakes like the o.p. demonstrated? Sure, she sold them. By your logic she has her answer and never asked the question. However I also don't believe that logic should be the metric by which one uses. The question is not will people buy your product, it is how many people will buy it and what kind of people will buy it. Put another way it is about a sustainable business.


And did I ever say work at WalMart? Nope there are other opportunities and as you note it is incumbent on you to build your skills. But skill building is something even masters do, they try new techniques all the time. And yes it is done on their own time. Not being able to develop your skills without selling to the public is not a rationale for selling to the public to develop your skills. If someone who is studying to be a mechanic opts to open a garage and they haven't mastered a basic oil change, I am not letting them practice on my car. That some else may does not mean they were ready to open a business to the general public as those who are probably will not be enough to sustain that business.

BeesKnees578 Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 6:26pm
post #34 of 116


Originally Posted by BeesKnees578 



The following is being said by me under the assumption that you are in a cottage industry state and would be doing this from your home, not a store front as THAT is a whole different animal (I thought you had said that somewhere along the line).



gatorcake...what I meant by "whole different animal" is that her basic skills could use improvement and i didn't think she was at the point of opening a shop or anything, but if she is selling from her house to improve upon her skills, more power to her (without undercutting, of course).


there are TONS of beautifully crafted cakes on here that have slight bulges...are you saying they aren't up to par and shouldn't be sold?  no matter the mastery of the art on the cake.  i'm talking slight bulge, not a blow out!


feel free to take a look at my cakes from the time I signed up on here until now.  I was selling (cottage) all along and people were willing to pay.  I have VASTLY improved even just over that last few years.  and I have raised my prices along the way.  


and you can't compare caking to surgery, mechanics, etc.....apples to oranges.  we won't kill anyone (hopefully) with an icing bulge.  salmonella, maybe, but not an icing bulge!


i have craftsy classes that i need to sit and watch that i thought i could get some great advice from.  so i agree with you there, we should all be always striving to learn.


that is all...

Annabakescakes Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 7:50pm
post #35 of 116


Original message sent by AZCouture

I can't remember the last time I even browsed any of the different sections. The shortcut I have for CC opens directly to the latest replied to topics.

Agreed. I have a bookmark that is an app on my phone, I just click the purple block with the "C" and am directed to the recent posts.

morganchampagne Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 8:14pm
post #36 of 116

AYes you can clean up your skills, and get better. But I personally think those cakes are fine to sell. There's room for improvement. I notice. [B]and this is not a bad thing[/B] that decorators hold each other to our standards. We notice things the public doesn't even care about.

Anyways if you're asking if you're talented yes. But that's one part of a puzzle. If you're asking are you ready to open up, no because there's tons of research to be done, and things to understand before you open up a business.

Annabakescakes Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 8:23pm
post #37 of 116

AActually, the app says "Cake", my bad.

itsacake Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 10:13pm
post #38 of 116

While I think there is always room for improvement, and one should always keep working on one's skills, when I took a class from Earlene Moore, she continually stressed that when you sell a cake to "Jane Q. Public" it doesn't have to be totally perfect because, unlike those of us who decorate, the general public does not see every little detail of a cake, they see the cake as a whole.


From my experience, this is pretty much true.  We are way harder on ourselves than the clients are.


While, I wouldn't sell the Minnie cake due to copyright issues, when it comes to skill level, I think there are clients who would be happy with those cakes. One of the things I have to remember to tell myself as I work is that Kerry Vincent and Colette Peters are not going to be at the party (At least I hope not).  Also I find it useful to remind myself that it doesn't have to be a flag or a bowtie or a book or whatever,.  It just has to look like those things.


Oh, and I agree with morganchampagne just becasue you can decorate, doesn't mean you are ready to have a business, the actual cake making and decorating are the least of it, the marketing, accounting,  public relations, vendor location, and the gazillions of  other details will overshadow the decorating by far.


Just my $0.02.  YMMV

morganchampagne Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 10:22pm
post #39 of 116

I have to amend my previous statement, while I think the second cake is fine to sell, the first one…not so much. I think gatorcake had some really good points about it. The bulging thing can easily be prevented, thats a basic skill. For some reason on my phone I could not see that picture. But keep practicing!! Remember that you have not been doing this for years and years and years. Its going to take a while to get everything perfect 

rachelcak3s Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 10:44pm
post #40 of 116

AI know that the cakes not supposed to bulge. The first tier dosnt have a bulge.. I have the skill to make one not bulge. I tried a new fillimg with the first tier. It bulged. So none ofus have ever made a mistake rright? Thanks everyone for the good advise. And for the people saying I shouldnt sell and just spend thousands on cake for the trash. Thanks anyway I guess. I know I have a long way to go. But I also know I have come a long way already as well. Maybe I should add in. Im 19 ive been practicing with cakes for 3 years now but only like 2 or 3 cakes a year. This weekend I made and sold 3 cakes. Those being 2 of them. All my customers were happy both in looks and taste. One could not stop telling me how perfect it was and thanked me from the bottom of her heart. So im really really confused.:-t

rachelcak3s Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 10:52pm
post #41 of 116

AAlso would like to add if im practicing on cake for the trash im really not going to be challenging myself, I woupd know the garbage dosnt care if my lines are straight. Making cake for someone is something special and makes you give your all, this way my cakes would only get better and better.

MBalaska Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:00pm
post #42 of 116
Originally Posted by rachelcak3s 

I'm trying to figure out if i have what it takes. ...................

[ "" am I good enough?"" ]


if a stranger on an internet website says "No."   then what?  (just curious)

rachelcak3s Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:04pm
post #43 of 116

AIm not going to give up on cakes because they say to. I was just looking to see what some people thought ,wasnt really expecting to get beat down for my bulge. Hahaha.

morganchampagne Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:06pm
post #44 of 116


Original message sent by rachelcak3s

Also would like to add if im practicing on cake for the trash im really not going to be challenging myself, I woupd know the garbage dosnt care if my lines are straight. Making cake for someone is something special and makes you give your all, this way my cakes would only get better and better.

You're looking at it wrong. You might have to make cakes that you throw away. And you should practice on those as if they are orders. If you wait until holidays, or orders come to practice you will be forever trying to improve your skill. If your serious, you have to invest in yourself. This means making cakes that may not be eaten. So sure the trash doesnt care about lines being straight, but you should. You should practice that. Set a standard for yourself.

morganchampagne Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:09pm
post #45 of 116

AAlso. People focus on the bulge because it's very unattractive and its something that needs to be fixed. You asked our opinions on if you were good enough. Well you have a bulge in your top tier. That's not good enough. Nobody beat you down over it

AZCouture Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:12pm
post #46 of 116

AAlso...decorators are a dime a dozen in every corner of the country. Why not wait and start out being really good, and commanding prices that really good work deserves.'re just jumping in with the other 5 that just mastered the star tip and charges low because "they're just starting out too."

Not meant to be harsh, but I'm sure it will hit a nerve with those that can relate.

rachelcak3s Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:13pm
post #47 of 116

AYeah, thats true and I do make cakes all the time for family. But im not going to not take orders if I know I can make them.

rachelcak3s Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:20pm
post #48 of 116

AI came on here hoping to get a little more confidence. As far as im concerned I lost the bit I did have. People are so rude. Yeah im sure ill get a comment. . Were really not... but you definitely are. Most of you anyway. How hard is it just give your opinion and be on your way.. I know how to use a star tip and have known sence I was 12 . I didnt go to fancy school like you guys. Maybe thats why your mad I don't know

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:29pm
post #49 of 116

rachel, i'm sorry this all went this way for you--i didn't read it all but if you are discouraged i can kinda guess how it went--


but what i wanted to say is--just believe in yourself that. much. more. that's what counts--


make all the cakes you want, girlfriend, price them as you see fit and have a blast doing it!

sixinarow Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:31pm
post #50 of 116

Are you using a dam with your fillings? It shouldn't matter what filling you use as long as you have a stiff dam, there will not be a bulge. Look at constructing a cake as an engineering project. Torte and level, fill and settle THEN buttercream and fondant (if chosen). You have to give each cake a solid foundation if you don't want bulges or sagging. Also look into buying some dummies to practice covering in fondant and smoothing buttercream. They aren't that expensive (about $5-7 a piece depending on the size) rinse them off and re-use over and over.


No one is trying to discourage you, the people who have raised concerns about you selling cakes at this point in your decorating career are concerned about your reputation with consumers. You may have clients now, but you will lose some higher paying ones because of the appearance of the earlier cakes. In the long run, and you have to look at the long run, it will hurt you. It doesn't take years and years of practice to get good at smoothing buttercream and fondant. You should see improvement with every cake or dummy you practice on. In a few months time, if you devote yourself to researching and practicing, you'll be at that point and you will be thankful you waited that short time. :)

morganchampagne Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:40pm
post #51 of 116


I was not attempting to be rude, if you were talking to me. I just wanted to point out what the bulge thing was about that's all. Like I said, the second cake I think is pretty good. Anyway, try not to get discouraged just because everybody didn't jump behind you and cheer like you would have hoped they would. Even if you don't like how it was said you were given some really good advice.

rachelcak3s Posted 24 Feb 2014 , 11:46pm
post #52 of 116

ANo just all the rudeness adds up and kinda ticks me off. How about I critique there cakes because im pretty sure someone. Maybe it was gatorcakes has a few pictures of slight mess ups like mine and probably charged hundreds for them.:-D. I did use a dam maybe I did it wrong. Seeing as most of everything I did on my cakes were wrong haha:-D

AnnieCahill Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:00am
post #53 of 116

ARachel, if I make a dam with a powdered sugar based icing, I'll make it stiff and pipe it about 1/4" in from the edge of the cake. That way it has room to expand. You might want to look up the thread from leah_s where she talks about using a tile to force settling.

rachelcak3s Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:08am
post #54 of 116

AI will check that out thanks.

JWinslow Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:14am
post #55 of 116



Originally Posted by rachelcak3s 

Im not going to give up on cakes because they say to. I was just looking to see what some people thought ,wasnt really expecting to get beat down for my bulge. Hahaha.


You shouldn't lose confidence or take anything here as a "beat down".  Rachel, when I first joined every one of my cakes had bulges like an old lady.  My fondant was 1//4 inch thick (now I think - gak).  I took a deep breath and took what APPEARED to be harsh advice and have never looked back.  I can still recall every thread I have benefited from.   Even so, I still have failures - I have torn off fondant, and re-iced not because I wanted to but because I knew I could do better because all those threads with sound advice were buzzing in my head. 


What I hope you take away from this is to remember this thread every time you make a new cake. 

Make sure you are putting enough icing on, smoothing your edges better than the last, rolling your fondant a little thinner, and attempting to elevate your skills every time.  Find those techniques that work to give you the results you want and practice them as much as possible.  Take pictures and compare your results.  You should be able to see improvement. 

Take what you know is good hard advice and run with it.

nancylee61 Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:21am
post #56 of 116

ARachel, I am new, too, and I shared my experience with you, which you obviously didn't want to hear. Please don't take my words and twist them. I make cakes for practice, and since I am not yet comfortable putting those cakes into the public, some get thrown out. I don't make cakes for the garbage, and I DO care about the quality, thank you very much. I teach 12th graders, so I understand your reaction, but your defensiveness, your anger at good advice, and your mischaracterization of what I said, shows me you are certainly not ready to attempt to open your own business.

I won't waste any more time here. I think you wanted the type of praise you get from family and friends, and you got honesty, which is so much more valuable.


nancylee61 Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:23am
post #57 of 116

AYou completely mischaracterized what I said. The trash doesn't care about good cakes but I do. And I'm not going to charge people for lower quality cakes. Nancy

rachelcak3s Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:34am
post #58 of 116


rachelcak3s Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:36am
post #59 of 116

AIm not saying I dont practice and do my best I do, I just dont see a problem showing people my work and if they want t o order something along my skill level why not sell it?

JWinslow Posted 25 Feb 2014 , 12:50am
post #60 of 116


Originally Posted by rachelcak3s 

Im not saying I dont practice and do my best I do, I just dont see a problem showing people my work and if they want t o order something along my skill level why not sell it?

I see what you are saying and I also understand what others are saying.  They are just trying to tell you that it is to your advantage to start at a higher level - that's all.  It gives you an advantage over your competition.

Quote by @%username% on %date%