All you succesfull home buisness cake decorators, how did you get your buisness going? I am doing the wilton cake classes right now, eventually i would like to start a small buisness in my home. Did you just start making free cakes for relatives until you got good enough to charge, or start charging immediatly? If you didnt ever work in a bakery how did you get so good? I mean I think it would be hard to convice a bride to let a newbie do her cake for the first time, kwim? Any input would be helpfull!! Thanks so much!!! ~Paula
I did my daughter's first birthday cake. It was a Holly Hobbie Doll cake. I didn't like what the bakeries had as decorated cakes...big sloppy iced cakes with a couple of flowers, pink for girls, blue for boy and the silver leaves..lol
I got the lead from a free parenting magazine, I got the Wilton Cataloge or year book got the pan and between the yearbook and the instructions that came with the pan I managed. ( sadly no pictures have survived the event!)
After a while family wondered where I got the cake, oh can you make me one..yada, yada, yada....
I started by making them for free, but I was a poor single mom and was breaking my piggy bank.
I wised up and started asking for the pans, then I was like..you want that cake bring me the pan....then after a long while I was like...bring me the pan and a box of cake mix.
Then I really wised up and was like....bring pan, cake mix....AND FIVE BUCKS...lol
the rest is history.
I wasn't brave enough to do my first wedding cake untill 1992!
I've been doing this since 1978! I was a late bloomer!
I just kept making cakes...the first time I askedmy aunt if I could make the cake and If she could pay me for the supplies..........$10.00 ....then after that I didnt more and more until I got better now I dont solicite they come to me.....I used evry chance I could get to show off........let me tell you my daughters cake is a big too do!
Paula....I'm in the process as we speak! I finished the Wilton Course 3 two weeks ago. During my classes over the past 4 months, I have given away ALOT of cakes. I volunteer them at different places....anywhere I go that I would usually take a dish, I manage to take cake. A well-decorated, tasty cake speaks for itself. Conversations lead to "Are you going into the business?", and there's your open door and free advertising! I also have recently named my business and made my own business cards. I carry them with me and have had the opportunity to hand out several already. I've actually already sold 3 cakes, and had inquiries for furture work.
For me....the freebies have been my ticket in. Granted, I've given alot away, and still am, but really it's cheap advertising considering I need the practice anyway!
Best of luck to you.....bake and decorate like crazy. SOMEBODY HAS TO EAT THOSE CAKES, so use them as advertisement!
I did do some free cakes in the beginning. If I offered to make the cake it was free but if someone asked me then I usually charged for ingredients. I knew I was going to start a business before my first wilton class was finished! So I started in that class practicing by making cakes for events I would need to bring a dish to and for people I knew and offered to make things for. When I was in class 2 and 3 I had people asking for cakes and I charged, low but I charged. One of the things I did almost right away was I joined networking groups. If there are any in your area I recommend them. I joined ABC (Association of Bridal consultants) first and then found out about another one. They are both full of people in the wedding and event business... from caterers to bridal consultants. You'll meet a lot of people and especially the consultants are normally looking for new people to work with. When someone seems interested in my work I will meet with them and bring some samples etc. I also offer to do desserts for the events because they get to try your stuff and see how you work. Good luck!!
These are a few easy ways to get the ball rolling:
This year, in the spring, I decided to try cakes with fondant and immediately fell in love. So, I had a surprise 40th birthday for my DH, I invited 40 people and made 2 different cakes. Then, for my son's 6th birthday party later that month in school, I made a cake....the clincher was my son's Godmother's baby shower. They had 60 guests and I volunteered to make the cake....so far I made 2 cakes for guests from there and I have 2 more on order. An additional order also came in from a girl who saw the photos from all the other cakes on my websites. So it's a snowball effect.
One of the cakes I made was for a big party in a catering hall which my cousin happens to be part owner. He wants my business cards to offer cakes to the incoming parties! And it's not just cause he's my relative....
My husband suggested to give a big discount for the first 10 or so cakes....which I am....but to let them know they are getting a huge discount......
but honestly....price has never been an issue. I think even if I charged regular price, they would be calling!
So....bottom line.....volunteer as much as you can to make the first few cakes and the rest will happen on it's own!
I also have plans to get licensed and do some "trades" with the local party/favor stores and florists. I will advertise for them if they give out my business cards and display a dummy cake of mine.
And...both my kids are in school....nursery and 1st grade. Wait till the parents see what I make for them! (all holidays, too!) They will be calling for sure!!!
Last thing....I promise....I took a chance and entered the Wilton contest...
If by chance I should place in any category...I will advertise that too!!!
I did my first cake in 1972! I subscribed to Mail Box News & the Maid of Scandanivia cake catolog. A flag cake in a 13x9 pan took me 7 1/2 hours!!!! From then on I just practiced, practiced & gave some away. Then people started asking me to make cakes & I did take money. Not much at first, then as I progressed, I charged more. When you feel comfortable, you can start making up price lists & contracts & business cards. Start making appts. at caterers & take a taste cake to the appt. I am not shy about handing out my cake business cards to any and all who I meet. Good luck!
I have been telling everyone I know and come in contact that this is what I am doing now. So many people have said " Oh yeah, I need a cake lady" and I have gotten orders that way. I made up business cards and when I do a cake for someone I give them some cards and if their guests ask where they got the cake.... they give them a card. I have got a lot of orders that way. As for weddings , I have yet to do that. I need more practice, but would love any advice on how to get to that point and how they got the orders.
I am not "in the business". I do this for fun. Of course would one day like to do it as a business. But I thought I would pass on what the owner of the local cake supply store told me. She said to charge from the very beginning. Because if the people (your neighbors or relatives) asked you to do the cake that means you are better at it than them or they would do it themselves. If they complain that they would have to pay Publix that price then tell them to feel free to go there. She went on to say that if you give them away while practicing, then they will continue to expect to get them for free or be insulted when you finally do charge.
This is not to say that you shouldn't bring free cakes to events or give as gifts for advertising purposes.
Sorry this was so long.
Cyndi.....I think the lady in the bakery doesn't understand that giving for the sake of giving is what some people like to do. Though I am stepping "into the business"...I will continue to provide cakes from time to time for anyone who needs one and isn't able to pay my prices. It takes all kinds of people to make the world turn....but I'm a giver, and I like it. )))))) I think there's a happy balance here somewhere. I LOVE to povide THE BEST for those who otherwise can't afford it.......I'll call it advertising... or a write off...... or whatever. Maybe I'll call it love...
Best of luck in your progress to becoming "a business".