The Competition Makes Me Want To Quit This Business...a Rant

Business By PerryStCakes Updated 14 Nov 2005 , 5:41am by beany

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PerryStCakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:30pm
post #1 of 25

I am feeling kind of bad lately - the competition here in NYC is too much to handle....
I have the people featured in every magazine, paper, food network show - all working right near me. I charge much less then most of them, but I still feel like - what's the point? The brides I get are those ones always trying to hassel me on price i.e. "for that kind of money, I should just go to Colette Peters" Go then! Ugh.
Here are just a few folks operating in Manhattan (where I am):
Sylvia Weinstock
Colette Peters
Gail Watson
Confetti Cakes
Margaret Braun
Ron Ben-Israel
and then there are the amazing bakeries that do cakes Sarabeths, Payard, Lady M Cake Boutique....

I can go on and on. But I know you all read the mags and watch the shows -- those designers all work here! And I feel like since this is a supplimental job for me (I have a day job too - living here, one sometimes needs 2 jobs to support themselves) and I can't even begin to try to compete in this market.

Sometimes I just want to give up....

Sorry for the rant - but I just picked up a new wedding mag. and got a little sad when I saw all the NYC designers in there again....

24 replies
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PerryStCakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:36pm
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and - just to add to that -

It's not like I can argue "well, my cakes are better then Slyvia's...."

I don't beleive that. I love my cakes, but I don't have a team of pastry chefs in my kitchen, either.

The only thing I say is, well - it's just me - you can be sure that I am the designer, baker, and delivery person. It won't be some behind the scenes person...

that's not even such are great arguement though - cuz - who cares, right?

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Tilisha Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:46pm
post #3 of 25

Instead of making them the competition see if you could join them on a part time basis. I'm certain alot of the people who help them are some kind of assistance or are doing an apprenticeship and maybe one day you will be a Collette Peters. Just a thought

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Kiddiekakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:47pm
post #4 of 25

I can certainly undersatnd your frustration!! I could never compete with Colette or Ben Israel etc...I don't have any advice to offer except maybe go into more Birthday cakes or specialty pastries and not so much weddings...but even then....most of them also do all of that too!! Keep your chin up!! I'm sorry you are feeling so helpless!! I wish I could help!!

Laurel icon_smile.gif

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cindy6250 Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:47pm
post #5 of 25

Don't give up if you really love what you are doing...The reason those people are so successful and got that way was because they got some good publicity..Not to take away from their talent at all, and also a lot of those mentioned, that I'm familiar with seem to have some type of trademark style that sets them apart from the pack and got them noticed by the media....Your cakes are lovely and I wish you much success!!!

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ellepal Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:48pm
post #6 of 25

I could imagine that would be rough!! I know that every town has its share of excellent cake designers....I am sure living in New York City, people are mindful of spending. Why not find out the average price, and then charge maybe 1.00 or 2.00 less per slice. If the average is 7.00, then charge 5.00, at least until you start building up your clientele. You can advertise that you do the same quality work, but at a more liveable price. That is what I'm doing...I'm undercutting my competition here because I work from home. I don't have to charge as much because I don't have the same shop to pay for.

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MelC Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 7:49pm
post #7 of 25

Have these people actually priced out some of those celebrity cake designers?!? icon_confused.gif

Just tell them you are a "Celebrity Cake Artist -in-Training" and that in a few years your prices will be at the same level as theirs... so they should count themselves lucky to have the chance to order a cake now while your prices are so low! icon_eek.gif

Perhaps also mention that with you, they are getting your personal attention to every detail!

Just BREATHE... you will find your niche and the clients who will appreciate what you do! icon_wink.gif

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PerryStCakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:02pm
post #8 of 25

Thank you everyone -- i am usually OK with all the "artists" around me - but sometimes it gets me down. I appreciate all of your kind advice, support and thoughtful comments.

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gilson6 Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:07pm
post #9 of 25

Have you thought about putting your own ads out there? I've put mine in the community newspapers and the pto newsletters to get my name out. I live in a small town in Texas but we have quite a bit of competition here. We live just outside Houston. The smaller newspapers don't charge as much as the bridal magazines and they don't have the coverage but it's a beginning. Keep up the good work! Don't Quit!

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okieinalaska Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:12pm
post #10 of 25

Sorry to hear about your woes. It will work out.

So do you charge the same as Collette?

I have to imagine her cakes are mega-expensive. I would price them and then when people say "I could get a collette cake" you can say "well maybe for another $xxx thousand dollars you can get a collette cake"

Those people don't know what they are talking about I have to imagine.

Best wishes,

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PerryStCakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:14pm
post #11 of 25

Tilisha - that is a great idea and before I started the biz I thought about that - the problem is my full time job which I can't afford to quit right now. The cake designers want you during biz hrs and I can't do it.

Kiddiekakes cindy6250 - thank you - you are so sweet and kind...

ellepal...good idea - I will look into that...

MelC - these folks are the celebrety cake designers, so they are the highest prices ever heard of. That's one good thing - I am not trying to be in luxury market just yet.

Gilson - very good idea - i will look into the prices of putting ads in the papers.

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maxiecakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:15pm
post #12 of 25

PerrySTCakes,Tell your brides,

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PerryStCakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:20pm
post #13 of 25

lol maxie!

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adven68 Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:26pm
post #14 of 25

Perry...don't think that way.....they all started somewhere too! I don't think Colette was born with a pastry bag! It's like that in every business!!! Let it be what makes you strive for success rather than get you down! I believe in you!!!!!

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peg818 Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 8:34pm
post #15 of 25

personally, when they say they could get a colette cake for that. I would hand them her number and wish them luck. The last time i was able to take a class from her, she didn't turn her oven on for less then $250 and that was a few years ago.

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PerryStCakes Posted 7 Nov 2005 , 9:25pm
post #16 of 25

adven - thank you thank you!

peg818 - yeah - no she won't turn it on now for under $600, and Confetti starts at $800. Ouch. I don't even know what Sylvia charges but I think she's one of the highest.

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SugarCoatedCakes Posted 8 Nov 2005 , 1:58am
post #17 of 25

Hello...I am trying to make my name in NYC as well. I have worked with Confetti cakes and cheryl Klienman as an intern after culinary school. They are both very down to earth woman who busted there butts to get their prestige! keep going and I know you can top the list! Competition is what keeps this business going! wishing you luck! I need some too! I just started a company called sugar coated and my cakes are still not where I want them to be, i hope with practice I can make it to the top of this list to.
Do you have a website?
Mine is

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alimonkey Posted 8 Nov 2005 , 5:01am
post #18 of 25

I'm sure there are enough people in NYC that it can handle another decorator, especially since you can only handle so many cakes in a week until you grow. There has to be a market for you there. There are too many income levels for there not to be. I'm sure there are plenty of people that would love to have a celebrity wedding cake but just can't afford it. Don't compromise on your pricing, just price yourself into a market you're comfortable with.

Lots of luck, and hugs!

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bubblezmom Posted 8 Nov 2005 , 1:33pm
post #19 of 25

I agree with alimonkey. It sounds as if you are trying to compete with the Colette's. There are millions of people in NY and very few of them can afford a brand name wedding cake. I am familiar with the expense of living anywhere near NYC. I know you're prices have to be much higher than here in the MidWest, but try not to outprice the average person's budget. Would you be able to afford one of your own cakes? Keep in mind that a lot of people are faking it. They are trying to show the world that they can afford a lavish wedding, when in reality they can't. They might consider a homebaker to save money and then they are experiencing sticker shock once you quote a price.

The above is speculation, please correct me if I'm way off base. icon_smile.gif

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irina Posted 8 Nov 2005 , 9:11pm
post #20 of 25

Perry, I'm also starting up in many of us can there be, right? What no one has mentioned yet, but what I feel is most important is that the cakes featured by these celebrity designers (in mags, I mean) aren't real. They're styrofoam dummies that have been worked on for weeks. Yes, it's possible to get a cake that looks like that by a staff of 50 made for your wedding, each staff member handling one detail or facet, but it WILL cost into the thousands if not tens of thousands. The difference in the product that I, and I assume you, sell is that it is an edible design for an affordable price.

I agree with some of these other women that it's vital to find a break into the market, but I think it's just as important to form some sort of alliance with other beginner bakers too. Trying to bake in NY is a particularly difficult feat (I am also working day job, while baking night job) and I think having a small group of artists to keep your chin up is essential. I don't know if you already have one...I'm still looking for mine...but you have to remember that there are women like Cheryl Kleinman (my hero) who aren't all pomp and had humble beginnings without the culinary program or the biography that reads: has been baking since age 3. If you provide a good product people will want it. We have to believe that.

Lastly, remember how much of this is for you too. How much you enjoy the work of creating.

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PerryStCakes Posted 9 Nov 2005 , 3:02pm
post #21 of 25

thank you everyone - you are all so kind icon_smile.gif

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goodcakefairy Posted 9 Nov 2005 , 3:22pm
post #22 of 25

You do good work. If this is what you love, you have to stick with it. You're an up-and-comer and you have to let people know that they are getting a quality product for a fair price. When someone hands you the line about getting a collette cake, be a class act. Don't make mean comments (Not that I think you would) or snark about pricing. Just point out the strengths of your business versus the major names.

1. Induvidual attention. Brides know their cake will be handled by YOU personally from start to finish. Nothing will be lost in the shuffle.

2. Fair pricing. They're not paying a premium price for a "name brand" cake now. In a few years, who knows where you'll be.

3. Flexibility. You're not set to any particular style or mode as your "signature" cake. You can go anywhere, do anything!

Take a breath. Eat some chocolate. (Cures all ills) and repeat, "You can't hurt me, Bridezilla." to yourself over and over again.
Love, GCF icon_smile.gif

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izzybee Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 12:46am
post #23 of 25

I took a class from Colette and believe it or not she complained about the same problem. Seems that Sylvia Weinstock does a lot of free cakes just to get in magazines. How do you compete with that? How she affords her staff is beyond me!

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MariaLovesCakes Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 1:17am
post #24 of 25
Originally Posted by Tilisha

Instead of making them the competition see if you could join them on a part time basis. I'm certain alot of the people who help them are some kind of assistance or are doing an apprenticeship and maybe one day you will be a Collette Peters. Just a thought

Now, there is a thought!!!!!! I wish I could do that! thumbs_up.gif

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beany Posted 14 Nov 2005 , 5:41am
post #25 of 25

I think you should PROMOTE the fact that you work alone and/or from home. There are lots of people who use it as a positive thing. For example:

"My aim is to supply a variety of cakes at very reasonable prices. Being a family business run from home, my overheads are kept to a minimum and the savings are passed on to you, our valued clients"
A long established family business and New Yorks finest gourmet cake manufacturer, we make a wide range of home-made cakes and deserts. My products are of the highest quality.
"We are a friendly family business whose aim is to create a cake that tastes just as good as it looks. I specialise in producing creations designed to each bridal couples requirements. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and strive to extend the boundaries of cake making by experimenting with new design concepts and different techniques to produce cakes that make an impact and stand out from the crowd."
"We have been a family business for over 5 years and we pride ourselves on our service"
"We are a family business and use original family recipes made with......"
"Whether you are looking for a contemporary or traditional design or have your own creative ideas in mind, I offer tailor made cakes crafted to your particular requirements. I provide an extensive range of mouth-watering flavours and fillings for all occasions, all baked and created on my premises"
"We prepare delicious cakes, all baked daily on our home premises"
"I provide individual, personal service and attention, and am more than happy to meet you for a taste and a discussion in the comfort of my home".
"I will discuss your ideas in a one-on-one consultation. You will meet the very person who is going to create your cake."
"My homemade cakes are made from scratch using the freshest ingredients and following the age-old traditions that have been passed down through generations of my family. I will personally deliver and setup your cake to ensure it's quality is not compromised."
"View my innovative cakes in the luxury of my home and benefit from my attentive and patient service."
"We are a husband and wife team who combine creative designs with delicious flavours. We use our own recipes and prepare our home-made cakes with the freshest ingredients"
"Make an appointment to view my cake creations in the comfort of my home. I offer individual attention and expert advice"

Try not to stress about it, PerryStCakes. Pride yourself on your service and the fact that you don't have a staff! GOOD LUCK HUN!

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