There is a bridal show coming up here and I want to participate. My biggest issue right now is that people don't know about me doing cakes so I figure this is a great way to put it out there. My question for you folks is this, how can I do this with as little expense as possible without looking cheap? Also, what are your suggestions for REALLY, REALLY simple cakes to do for display? I am not an advanced decorator by any means but I do okay so I figure if I keep it simple everything will look good. Thanks for any advice, input, and/or suggestions. I need all the help I can get!
Lots of people use model cakes on dummies, so they can be re-used. Then, sheet cakes for tasting samples. You can put the bites in small plastic condiment cups, so the visitors can take them home-but they need to be labeled.
You can forgo samples, but you should find out what the show typically has. If all the decorators give samples, then you should, too.
Most shows have requirements that decorators be licensed. If you don't work out of a licensed kitchen, they may not allow you to participate.
In many areas, the health department visits the vendors during the show to their credentials.
Thanks for your reply. It is not illegal to sell from your home where I live, with a few stipulations of course, so I don't think the health dpt is an issue.
I think making a dummy cake to display is a good idea. I would go ahead and have samples available...people love to taste! I think it would be nice to have a book of photos for your customers to view. I would maybe make up a small brochure or flyer and business cards for people to take with them. Good luck!
We have a bridal show that comes to my city twice a year. I would love to participate in it but the cheapest booth is for 800.00. I am not ready to undergo that much expense at this time. Someday...I hope to get to do it...at least once!
I don't have an album of pics. I have never done a wedding cake. I don't want to tell people that either. Is not having a book a dead giveaway of my lack of experience? I have done stacked cakes but no opportunities to do a wedding yet. That's why I need to get my name out. The show here is $300 and that is a MAJOR sacrifice for us right now. I just figure this the best way to get some exposure so this endeavor can bring in the extra money I need it to. Someone here has the quote about "never making progress unless you stick you head out". I keep saying that to myself. I am so nervous about this, I spent most of the evening yesterday pep talking myself. Thanks for your insight!
I think you will still be ok without the book. Maybe you could make 2 small dummy cakes. I think as long as you have something to display for people to see will be good. You can also let them know that they are welcome to show you picture of designs they like and then you can create something similar. You have to start somewhere.
Thanks Traci! I think I'm gonna try to do three displays, one for each end of the table and a small one for the middle. I'll put my literature in between two and the samples in the other space. I'm trying to keep it simple but nice and keep the cost down until I get more experience with this sort of thing. Thanks for the encouragement, I appreciate it!
Best of luck to you and I hope you get some orders. I think the best way to go is into the wedding cakes. I live in an area where there are so many kids that it is difficult to find the wedding customers.
You will have to let us know how the show goes.
I agree it's expensive! The big bridal show here costs $1000 for a booth.
I've also found that those shows are all about the decorations. I was told before my first one that if my decorations looked too cheap, everyone would know I was a beginner. You want to appear elegant, upscale so you can charge a higher price. I have a rich purple satin that I sash up and down the table. It adds color and a little elegant shimmer. (The last show I did, people came over just to touch the fabric). You can get it pretty cheap at a craft store. Lots of people use that tuile (sheer netting like a veil) fabric for a little fairy princess effect. It depends on your cake styles. You need something that catches the eye from far away.
But don't go too crazy, it is after all about selling cake. Samples are a good idea if they allow them (my show doesn't). I would make a few dummy cakes at home and take pictures to make a small book. They can be really small as long as they show your decorating style.
A good color flyer or even postcard can help. They need to remember you when you get home. Make them sign in (offer a prize or something), so you'll have their contact info for a follow-up.
Thanks for your reply sweetchef. Do you have any suggestions for presentation and offering samples? I agree my booth needs to look classy. I only have about three weeks and ltd funds to pull this off so if you have any suggestions I appreciate it!
I've found that it good to bring a buddy to those shows. Even if they don't work for you, they can pass out samples or flyers while you answer questions and book tastings. It's hard to be everywhere at once, and people don't want to wait.
I'd suggest just making sheet cakes, cutting them into tiny squares, and putting them in little plastic or styrofoam containers with a plastic fork (you can find some cheap stuff in bulk at CostCo or Sam's Club). Put a logo sticker on top so they can remember where they got it. I've seen people put one vanilla/buttercream and one chocolate square....it depends on your flavor favorites where you live. (In TX, most people order a chocolate groom's cake as well as a buttercream bride's cake.) The samples don't need to be pretty, just big enough to get the flavor. Try to have them taste it before they leave your booth so you can answer their questions. You can hide the extras under the table or stack them in boxes and cover them with a tablecloth. You have to be kind of aggressive...get out in the aisle and say "Would you like to sample our cakes?" You won't have any trouble getting people with samples...people love free food! The hardest part is knowing how many to make!
It will get boring at times at these shows.
What I did to occupy my time was pipe little roses on cake centers.
This served three purposes.
1. It showed my skill as a decorator firsthand
2. It provided me with something to do to fill in the time
3. It provided potential clients with a free sample of my cakes.
Now here is another thing you could do to gain clientele.
I am sure if you searched the Web a little, you would find a list of Wedding Tips or Do's and Don't's or something of that nature.
What you do is type some of these bridal helps in nice script font and print them on a good quality paper. I would guess note pad size (roughly 6" X 9")
Offer these as "Free Bridal Tips" on your table.
Of course you will have your contact information on them, and if you choose, a discount offered to those who purchased a cake through the show.
Approximatley, what size of sample serving would you put out? If its a sheet cake, it would be at least 2" tall, right?
So when I read that you'd put the sample in a little condiment cup, I was confused....
Okay, here are my thoughts.
While I haven't been AT a show yet (first one is Feb. 19th), my partner and I just went to one yesterday to check out some of our competition and see what goes on. They all had samples. You could tell where the food booths were because the traffic started backing up around them!
If you can set up your booth where people can "come in" it would help not to back up traffic as much. Not sure what kind of set up you will have. I would definitely have samples. We received samples that were cut on site, placed on a napkin/placed on a plate/with a fork/without a fork; also small "bites" of cake that had been iced in a condiment cup/mini cupcakes that had been iced in a condiment cup (both of these had lids)- one had a label on the side, one didn't; the neatest sample we received (but definitely not the most cost effective) was a small rectangle bite of cake (think 1"x2") wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a slightly larger white box with a label on it. The cake was iced, of course. This was the best one. But that would not be the cheapest route to go. If you can, I think a sample of cake in the small, plastic containers with lids with a label on it would be great. I was so sick of cake yesterday that any of the ones that were packaged "to go" I brought home. The label will help them know who made it, after they've gone home for the day and all of the other info has completely taken over their brain!
Other than that, I'm not sure what the best method it. I ate so much cake yesterday- and none of it really stood out, except the bad ones, and the "different" ones (and I was there specifically to check out the cakes!)- and I can't remember who made what- except the bad ones and the different ones!!!!
I also recomment the "dummy cakes" and nice decorations. It doesn't have to be over the top. Maybe just some material to accent with in your "color" - if you have a color!