Need Advice....should I (Long)

Business By karateka Updated 3 Jul 2008 , 12:15pm by karateka

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karateka Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 8:44pm
post #1 of 14

participate in the upcoming bridal show?

Some background:

My business is back up and advertising after a break that has cost me a lot of word of mouth. I am finally starting to get requests for info now that my google adwords campaign is running. My ad on is up and I'm committed to a year of $120 payments for that.

I'm taking classes from Colette Peters and Nicholas Lodge in August to the tune of $2K just for tuition. I'm also participating in the OSSAS this year (not the wedding cakes, just divisional). For OSSAS I'm doing 2 cakes, and they aren't going well.

The bridal show is Oct 12. I have a wedding Oct 11. I'm told they expect about 300 brides plus "other people brides bring with". I have never done a show, and there will be, so far, only one other cake lady there. It is really close to me, so it's hugely convenient in that way. They want $500 for the table.

Now, I might be able to pull off the cash.....and if not, I do have a business credit card that I am willing to use under the theory that one has to spend $$ to make $$. But I don't have any display cakes made and don't know that I'll have time with working on two cakes for Oklahoma. I currently work 3rd shift, 7on and 7off at a hospital pharmacy. I know they have hired someone to replace me so I can go part time but he has no hospital experience and I don't know how long before I'll actually BE part time. My shop is a one woman operation, if you don't include my saintly DH who runs for me and cleans for me because he's a far better person than I am. So I can't hand off a display cake for my "assistant" to make. I do have a nice bound book of the cakes I've done.

I don't know if I can pull this off. I figure I'll need at least 3-400 servings of at least 3 different flavors of cake each, right? I could possibly bake ahead of time and freeze, then ask DH to cut the bite size pieces and put in cups for me. But when to do the display? I won't get home from OSSAS until Oct 1 or 2 (can't remember...) then I start my 7 on again then the wedding.

I almost feel that with only 1 other bakery there, I'd be a colossal idiot to not jump on this. But if I pay the non-refundable deposit and don't get a display cake I shooting myself in the foot? Do I need more than one display cake? If they survive, I could possibly use one of my OK cakes....but that's not a guarantee.

I can't take any more time off work. I'm off 2 rotations in August for classes and vacation and a few days in Sept for OK, and again in December.

Sorry so long....I am just trying to include all relevant information. I really am not sure what I should do. Am I going to too much trouble for a one woman operation? Should I wait to do a show until I am actually part time, then go for it? icon_confused.gif Whaddya think?

13 replies
FromScratch Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FromScratch Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 9:01pm
post #2 of 14

I think you should wait. Just reading what you have coming up was tiring nevermind doing it all AND preparing for a show. You don't want to be rushed and not do as good of a job as you normally would. And you'd have to bake up samples too right? It's A LOT of work and the day after a wedding. Don't fret it if you just say no this time around. There will be other shows.

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Ariginal Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 9:06pm
post #3 of 14

Wow you wil have alot on your plate... ask yourself do YOU know you can do it... if you know in your heart of hearts you can then hey GO FOR IT what an opportunity.. personally i work better under pressure for some reason things turn out so much better dont know why... but they do.

I assume you will be making dummy cakes for the bridal show? which in that case can be done whenever and stored right will keep for months.

Yes you could prebake and freeze those cakes you want but also wont you want some fillings made up to that would go with those cakes that maybe people can add to it themselves on the day saves you time in that respect.

good luck and do let us know what you end up doing andhow it all goes and wow i envy you going to classes with the likes of collette and nicholas i have their books but thats about as close as i will probably ever get to seeing them for real ...

Happy decorating

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Adrianita Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 9:31pm
post #4 of 14

Hola Karateka,

Personally, the Bridal Show I did back in March was the best thing I've done for my business...I booked 10 wedding cakes from there this year and 2 for next year already!
I paid $450.00, plus they gave me a mailing list that I used to send postcards, and that got me a couple of b-day cakes too.
I'm new in business so the exposure was great.

I also exchanged some business card with other exhibitors (DJs, photographers, venue owners, etc.)
I got a sweet 16 b-day cake from a photographer...

I'm a one-woman show also and I did not have time to chat with more people...but you do what you know?

I have a full time job, so hopefully next year things will go smoother and I will be able to network more.

Again...It was A LOT of work and the event was really big, around 400 brides were registered but I swear the entire town was there!

I only had one cake flavor (WASC) and vanilla and choc. BC.
Next year I will do ONE cake flavor and ONE filling flavor.

There was a lot of food in there so don't go crazy with 20 cake flavors and 40 fillings....people won't remember...they will only remember whether was good or bad...whether they liked it or not.

Some people here in CC has said they don't bring samples, but I found that to be the main attraction of my is simple: PEOPLE LIKE FREE FOOD.
Make a couple of sheet cakes the week before, wrap them nicely, freeze them and you're good to go.

Print plenty brochures and business card, I used vista print...nice and cheap.

I had 4 dummies cakes but the tables were small and with all the literature and the samples they barely fit... Next year I will bring two....that's it.

I brought two albums with pictures of my cakes...

What else??? It was I looooooong day, so bring comfortable shoes...and dress nicely! people like that...

There were many things I did I won't do making 4 dummies! and wearing high heels (I looove high heels) LOL... and next year I am planning to spend more time talking to brides and NETWORKING!!!, this is KEY.

If you plan on time, everything is going to be ok...

Good luck!


-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 9:57pm
post #5 of 14

It really sounds like you're spread pretty thin there. If I lived closer I would come over and make you some dummies, I'd make whatever you wanted.

Do you pay for the google stuff? I mean if it's not free then you've already got two paid advertising things.

I mean if you did generate more business could you even handle it?

One idea, you could cut the cake and keep it all together in sheets to freeze so you could be that tiny bit more ahead. Shoot with a helpful husband like that you could just about do it huh.

I mean considering you have several months on this it doesn't take much to slap some fondant on a couple dummies toss on some fresh flowers wa la. I mean do it now--it lasts like crazy.

Doug Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Doug Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 9:58pm
post #6 of 14

have all those photos in digital format on the computer?

the do the high tech "virtual" version.

borrow/rent a video projector.

create a really great PowerPoint presentation of all your cakes which would include:
>multiple views of each cake where you have them
>grooms cakes as well as wedding cakes
>testimonials from clients (fancy fonts)
>nice background music
>pro photo of you at work
>photos of contest cakes even (and if you win anything photo of the award
>listing of your menu of flavors and options on cakes
>big ....CALL XXX-XXXX

set it up so it's projecting on a big screen so that all can see easily.

and then do as others suggest w/ the sheet cakes for all to taste and all your business info ready to take.

extra bonus -- done well, that PowerPoint could become a major center piece on a website.

advertising angle -- real cake for real weddings

not dummies for dummies

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melodyscakes Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 12:35am
post #7 of 14

I know your busy NOW, but these brides you will meet are getting married 6 - 9- even 12 months or more from the time of the show.
I say, loose a bit of your tail off, then rest later. it will pay off.


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loriemoms Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 1:08am
post #8 of 14

Its a tough one because you sound so busy already (and you will be busier after the show, because they will all want to book tastings!)

But I find the shows SO worth it! I did a two day show last January (ran me about 2500 bucks if you include the brochures, booth, free cake, cards, misc stuff) I booked 93 weddings from that show. No joke!! (they had about 1200 brides show up) I booked the first 50 in Febuary and March....I was doing 10-12 tastings a week!

I did a one day show back in April, ran me only about 600 because I didn't have buy as much brochures and such and I booked another 25 or so weddings from that show. So they do pay off. (And they are still calling, so its hard to tell )

I also LOVE doing shows! I love talking to the other venders, and I love the excitement in the air. I wish I could do shows all the time! (anyone local who needs help at a show, give me a call! If I aint busy, I would LOVE to help out!) I also do several charity booths every year to just network and meet people and give out cupcakes. I stopped doing the department store shows..they were a waist of time. But the professinal shows are a BLAST!

If you don't think you can get dummy cakes together (get your cards from Vista print., or Iprint...CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP!) then do wait..dummy cakes are important. And a good book of your work.

Good luck with your classes! I LOVE Nicholas Lodge classes..they are the BEST!!!!

karateka Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
karateka Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 1:18am
post #9 of 14

Wow! I've got some pretty varied opinions here! Still not sure what I'll end up doing, but I'm so grateful for all the input. And keep it coming, for those who haven't chimed in yet!! are truly a creative genius. I don't know what else to say. I will definitely try to get something like that together, but I most assuredly don't have time to do it myself before then or $$ to pay someone. But that is a spectacular idea! I'm definitely going to start work on that.

I guess it all comes down to whether I can physically get this done. And if I commit the $$ I HAVE to follow through. I only get a 6ft draped table, so I guess with all the samples I wouldn't need 3 or 4 cakes. (I really wish I could do Doug's idea!! Durned computer illiterate brain of mine....)

Do you guys usually include a dollop of icing on the cake sample? Or do you just do cake cubes and mini cups of filling? With mini "ice cream sample" type spoons?

Head spinning!

Whether I need this much advertising is a good question. I am paying for theknot. Google I had a free $100 credit. I was considering whether to continue it when the credit ended, and I'm not sure if I should or not. Theknot subscription also comes with so I'll get exposed to both wedding and party seekers.

Once I go part time, though, I will have more available weekends for doing cakes.

Honestly, I don't know what's best. I wish my Dad knew the slightest thing about the business, he's got a solid common sense "business" head on his shoulders.

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Doug Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 4:37am
post #10 of 14

think teens out of school needing money.....

if can contact local HS computer teacher...he/she can tell who is the wiz at PowerPoint (and who know the teacher might even do it for cake and cookies)

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Monkess Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 1:53pm
post #11 of 14

Go for it girl! I know you have your hands full, but i am the kind of person who pushes and pushes myself to the brink..and hell I know we are all stronger than we will recover on Oct 13th!!!
For the show: I would bake ONE flavor, frost it and make sure that is your yummiest ever. The frosting is the spoon is a good idea but cumbersome, unless you want to make up 6" plates with cake and two sppons of frosting each to hand out. More work but might look more impressive.
If you don't get a couple of dummies done, a quick fix would be to take your best looking wedding cake picture(maybe 2) and get them printed poster size, business depot does it for about $30 for a very large size. Laminate it if you want and put it up in your booth, it attracts women no end to your table and is better than a small dummie that is not visible from far.
Make up a list of things you need to carry with you, scissors, tape etc. small things which stress us out no end. I love shows and I think they are the best way to get the word out. Good luck!

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MaisieBake Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 3:17am
post #12 of 14

Are you doing Oklahoma for personal reasons or for business reasons?

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moydear77 Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 4:10am
post #13 of 14

It is that time of year again! Cakes driving me nuts as well!

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karateka Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 12:15pm
post #14 of 14

This decision might have just been made for me.

My MIL has just been diagnosed with Hodgkins. She wasn't well to begin with, dealing with pretty bad heart trouble. So instead of OSSAS we will probably be going down to see her in Louisiana.

As for the bridal show, I've been reminded that there is another obligation on Oct 12. It doesn't start until after the show, but it's close and I doubt I'd get there on time with breaking down the show and getting all my stuff home first.

Honestly, I need a personal secretary!

Thanks for all the help. I knew I could count on you guys. I'll miss seeing whoever is going to OK....

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