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Advice for a young'n

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone

I'm basically in need of some advice. I'm currently 19, have completed my alevels and am on a gap year. I currently hold a place to go university this October, although I feel that it is a subject I will do well in but will not be beneficial to me in the long run (schools more or less force you int applying for any degree and so I out down Media and Communications as I have no idea what I want to do in life).
I've been interested in baking and cake decoration all my life, and was wondering in how to take it further. I have recently visited two local cake decoration shops to ask if I could do a few hours a week or even for free just to see if I like it enough to pursue it further as a career, though unfortunately both shops turned me down.
Sorry this post is very whaffley, I'm just at a loss on what to do! Since I'm quite young, I don't have friends as such that will ask me to make a cake for them, and I don't feel I have enough experience to start offering cakes to my parents friends ect.
All I can think of is either taking me place at university, and come out with debt and a degree that is more or less useless in today's world, or forget about uni and find another route down cake decorating while taking the risks that I may be crap at it or not like it! (I doubt the latter somehow icon_smile.gif )
Sorry for going on and on again! Many thanks to any replies
Alex
post #2 of 33

Too bad about the cake shops.... what did they say about refusal?  Have you offered just to wash dishes, sweep and clean just to get your foot in the door?  That is a bit of the reality of the work world today.  Have you taken any classes in cake decorating.  Sounds like you are in Great Britain and I know there are a few places that offer wonderful classes.  Why not invest in taking a week or two class.  It will teach you basis and maybe you can contact someone who is willing to take on an apprentice. Art classes will help as well and they don't have to be professional university level... craft and interest level will do as well.  Why can I decorate???? Because I did porcelaine and watercolour classes and was able to apply the ideas not to mention the patience needed to sugar and royal icing.  Invest in a few good books and practice on your own... start a photo portfolio of what you do and maybe keep going back to places.

  I have heard over and over professionals with shops who are fed up with people who come in and refuse to do even basic cleanup.  You need to impress people with your committment and work ethics.  Good luck because if this is your passion you are at a perfect age to start.  I always had to put it on backburner as I had a family to support so now very late 50's and I finally can work in a bakery but find the physical labour taking a toll. 

  Did you ask for suggestions from cake shops as well on how to get started?  Good luck!

Of course chocolate is the answer!
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Of course chocolate is the answer!
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post #3 of 33

i have a son who is a former chef, started as a busser, did culinary school now in a different field

 

i've been in food service all my life one way or another--i love it

 

my suggestion is to go to school go to school go to school for that 'useless' degree

those seemingly useless degrees come in handy later on

 

you can always bake cakes and learn and learn and learn

 

you'll get good enough to be a big hit

 

i mean give your projects to local agencies like fire and police , hospital nursing stations etc.

 

you can always bake

 

you cannot always re-arrange your life to go to university

 

you sound like you need time to make up your mind--take it!

 

go to school AND keep baking--like fellow students won't love to see you coming????

carrying a box of goodies!!! talk about being the hit of the campus are you kidding me

 

you got a school full of guinea pigs salivating at your feet--do both is my suggestion and i wish you the best!

one baker's never ever do is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
 
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one baker's never ever do is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
 
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post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewsugarqueen View Post

quote

The first I went to was unfortunately closing, and the second said she has been struggling for orders for a couple years and sent me away. I did offer to go in for free and help clear up ect just so I could observe the types of things they would be doing but she still said no - something a bit odd about that one! This evening I have emailed another place which is a little further out but looks great, though on closer inspection with google I think it's a home business so I doubt there will be much luck there. I have been looking at classes, especially the PME ones though unfortunately it would mean me having to travel further out (I live in Leeds) to a city like Manchester, which would also mean me having to pay the more expensive price of a week intensive course and accommodation, since I won't be able to afford travel expenses if I did the course over a number of weeks. The other course I found is at a local college which is part time but runs over a year, meaning I would either carry on with that part time and drop my uni offer or the other way round. Interesting you mentioned art classes - I had thought of that early but doubtjt would benefit me since I'm more of a hand-y sort of person than painter or drawer. I have bought two books by Jane Asher which look great and I plan on working through them just like you say to build up a portfolio, though the only issue is buying ingredients since I'm just working part time right now. Thank you so much for our reply, I just hope I take the right route and not end up messing everything up icon_biggrin.gif One shop mentioned the college course and the other shop didn't mention anything.
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis View Post

quote

Thanks for the reply. I never thought of looking at university as a bunch of guinea pigs - haha! What an image icon_smile.gif
I also loved your suggestion of giving away the cakes. This is handy since my mum doesn't want me 'practising too much' as she is very weight conscious and would think we would have to eat it all! She also works part time at a hospital so I will try asking her if I could make a cake once a month that she can take in for the staff icon_smile.gif
post #5 of 33

Get a degree in business (w/accounting, legal etc.)  - you'll need those skills just as much as decorating to be a successful baker if that is what you want.  Education is never a waste if you give it a 100%.  Also, look at Craftsy for some great online classes - they have a few free ones as well.  Good luck!!!

post #6 of 33

I vote for business degree, seems much more practical if you truly want to pursue baking as a career (or business in another field), but that's because a degree in "media and communications" sounds sort of like a liberal arts degree in the US.

You wrote that you've been interested in cooking all of your life - have you cooked/baked/decorated or just thought about it? The classes on Craftsy are not expensive and you will learn a lot with no travel expenses. I probably missed it, but are you basically unsure of what you want to pursue in life or is caking your passion? If you are not clear, could you take some type of aptitude tests before college to help you narrow your focus? Best wishes whatever path you choose.

post #7 of 33
I also vote for a business degree, geared toward entrepreneurship. A good background in marketing, finance, project management, process design, accounting, and verbal/written communication will be useful for just about any career.
post #8 of 33

I would spend the next 9 months practicing your caking and decorating at home, get as many free courses as you can (someone already mentioned Craftsy.com) and maybe check out your local, or not so local, adult education centre. Look again to see if there is anywhere else to do the PME classes. But start with more basic ones first. Use YouTube till you get square eyes. Try and scrape together the cash to buy your ingredients and give your cakes to anyone who will take them...most people love free cake! Birthday, Valentines, any other celebration...ask for cake decorating stuff as presents. You can practice decorating on dummy cakes too, remember to take pictures each time before you remove any decorations and start again. And then go and get your degree, but keep on caking.

 

A girl I know, and most of Spain now knows, studied media and communication for her degree. She started making cupcakes in her free time a couple of years ago. She blogged about it. She now rents a place where she gives classes and sells them in literally 5 minutes after she publishes the dates on her Facebook page. She sells utensils and stuff in the place where she does classes, and is about to open a shop right next door for that purpose alone. She has written a book on cupcake decorating and has sold loads of them, been reprinted I don't know how many times and is now going on sale in Latin America and will probably be translated into English at some point. She has done TV programs, a series of her own shows. She does charity stuff too. Although her personality is what really makes her popular, she really knows how to get herself out there, and I am 100% sure it's because of the degree she chose.

 

Business degrees are ok, I found mine to be boring as hell. But you can pick some of that stuff up as you go along, or take specific classes for what you are particularly weak on.

 

Best of luck!

post #9 of 33

I'm adding my own question to this thread if ya'll don't mind:) I also am a teenager that decorates and will have to be making some decisions in the next 2-ish years about what kind of education I should go for after high school. I first started decorating when I was 9 and am now 15, child labor laws will not allow me to work in a bakery until I'm 16 and I don't turn 16 until the summer is over. And I doubt that regardless of pictures of the cakes I have made that any place would actually want to hire me. Texas does have a cottage food law but I have looked at what it would involve and I don't think that I could balance school and a business and not go insane; neither would it make sense to set up a business and dissolve it at the end of summer break. I currently make almost of my cakes for family and friends events/birthdays and my church. I would love to do something with cakes this summer but I'm not sure what I can do other than endless practice cakes which my mom also does not like having a lot of and I also absorb the cost for ingredients. If ya'll can help me it would be much appreciated.

"'Tis an ill cook who cannot lick his own fingers."

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"'Tis an ill cook who cannot lick his own fingers."

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post #10 of 33
I would highly recommend still going to university, but switching to business, or even something culinary/hospitality management related. Trust me, as a 35 year old without that 'worthless' degree, you'll regret it later if you don't do it now while its so much easier. Paying off that debt when you're 21 is much less painful than trying to scrape the cash together for tuition when you've got 2 kids and are unemployable.

If you're really not that interested in university what about training to be a pastry chef? The college would probably help you find some work experience too.
elsewhere.
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elsewhere.
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post #11 of 33

If you want to do cakes as a business then a business degree would be a great asset to have. The downfall of many entrepreneurs (cakers included) is not necessarily the activity they love that got them interested in going into business in the first place but realizing that they were unprepared to do business. No matter what you go into business for, the business side of things is just as important as, if not more important than, the activity itself.

post #12 of 33

I could be wrong but I would presume that England is very much like Australia and will have local area groups for a national cake decorating association that meet weekly or monthly.  These groups are a wealth of information for both beginners and advanced alike.  Our group meets monthly and someone always demonstrates a technique, which we then all get to try.  We also get in guest demonstrators on occasions.  If we get newbies someone is always willing to  go through the basics with them.

I would suggest you do a search of your local area and see what you can come up with as this will be much cheaper for you if you are short of money.
 

post #13 of 33
Another thought I had was whether your local supermarket does cakes, because they're more likely to be hiring even if your local family owned bakeries aren't. Of course you won't get to do a lot of the more fun stuff but you will learn a lot of useful stuff, and get paid!
elsewhere.
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elsewhere.
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post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for the replies!
I contacted yet another shop today but unfortunatly the owner is recovering from a broken shoulder and isn't ind action till mid feb, but says I can go see her then.
The business degree idea is a good one! I've never though about it before since learning about business has always sounded slightly dull to me but I can really see the benefits in it now. My chosen uni do well supported degrees in it too, so I'm currently looking at when the next open day is so I can go check it out.
The last poster recommended working at a super market or something - I'm currently working st Waitrose now but my contract is soon coming to an end (ill find out this week if it will be extend for not). While working there I did get a chance to look st he petisseri section though unfortunatly absolutely everything comes in a box, ready to put on a shelf (I can't even out a dollop of icing on there!)
I'm currently planning on making a cake for Mother's Day since that's the next 'occasion' so to speak.

I'll keep you all posted icon_smile.gif thanks again
post #15 of 33

valentine's

 

first day of spring

 

april fool's day (make a 'spaghetti' or 'meatloaf & potatoes' cake :)

one baker's never ever do is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
 
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one baker's never ever do is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
 
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