Cakes You Wouldn't Make And Changing A Design

Decorating By nanefy Updated 17 May 2011 , 7:45pm by nanefy

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nanefy Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:04pm
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OK, so this may be a sensitive question but it's something I am not sure about. I have specific ideas on how cakes should look and I suppose a certain style that I like to maintain. My question is this: If someone asks you to make a cake and gives you a picture of what they want, but you hate it and would be embarrassed to make it, what would you do?

I don't like the idea of turning away business, but I certainly wouldn't just make any old thing just because I'm getting paid for it. As an example, I have just been asked to make a cake (there was a picture provided) that I wouldn't make if I had the choice. Now the colour scheme and theme etc are perfectly OK, but I would definitely execute it differently. I have already said that I don't copy cakes and that I will provide a sketch of a similar cake in keeping with the scheme, but if the person comes back and says 'nope, I want that EXACT cake' what would you do?

Without sounding pompous I consider my cakes to be a work of art and although someone is paying for them, it is essentially my art they are paying for. I'd hate to make a cake that I didnt' like for someone and they post it on facebook (and god forbid should tag me in the photo) so that the rest of my potential clientelle can see it.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

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19 replies
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June_m Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:11pm
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I've done a few cakes that I HATE! But if that's what they want then that's what theyl get. I would never turn away business because I don't like someones idea everyone is different and has different ideas of what looks good to them. It's them I have to please not myself.

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Kristie925 Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:16pm
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You can always un-tag yourself on Facebook!
If you're not comfortable making a specific cake, then don't make it! I've done a few cakes that I didn't care much for, but the people I made them for loved them, and so did the party goers.

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RedRoxx Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:22pm
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I do believe even artists have to recreate other pieces of art to support their other arts.

I would do it. More so because I like to make people happy and it would make the customer happy.

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artscallion Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:34pm
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You could promote your self as a Cake Designer rather than a Cake Decorator. I don't decorate cakes to order. I design cakes based on the needs/colors/theme etc. Most people I make cakes for don't even know what the cake will be until it shows up at the event. No sketches, no specifics. Kind of like you see Buddy do when he has consults on Cake Boss. They tell him what the party is about and what they like and he takes it from there after they leave. But you have to promote yourself in such a way as to instill trust that you you can make a fabulous cake and they don't need to worry about the details.

This frees you up because you can have full artistic freedom. You never have to do cakes you don't like. And they can never come back and say, "that doesn't look like the picture I gave you." or "I was picturing the castle part being bigger." or "but I wanted a 5 tier cake to feed 30 people!"

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BakerAnn Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:46pm
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Interesting topic. I am not in the cake business as a hobby; rather it is part of how I make my living. Therefore I treat it like a business and will provide the client with what they want whether or not I like it.

That being said, I never accept "naughty" cakes. This is not said against any who do them as we all have to make decisions about how to run our business. I'm a long way from being a prude, but it is a commitment to my Christian faith that there is no amount of money which will allow me to accept one.

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bobwonderbuns Posted 16 May 2011 , 7:05pm
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I've had cakes that I flat out refused to do (one was sooooo ugly that I told the bride "I'm sorry, I cannot put my name on anything like that, it's my reputation every bit as much as it is your wedding." -- Thankfully she changed her mind on the design!) icon_biggrin.gif

But I had one cake recently that I did -- a former student of mine begged me to do it and from start to finish I hated that cake. It wasn't my style but it was what she wanted so I did it. It was a judgment call.

I have a standing rule that I DO NOT AND WILL NOT EVER do any cake that I cannot show my friends, family, church members, old people and little kids all at the same time. Period. It's not negotiable. This means no naughty or gross cakes. Period. Which is good, I've had a lot of clients thank me for that -- they can comfortably go to my www without fear of them being embarrassed by my work.

Bottom line, it's a judgment call on your part. But remember this, it is your reputation out there.

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nanefy Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:01pm
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I'm totally with you about the offensive/naughty cakes - I too am a christian and will never be making anything I would feel uncomfortable showing anyone.

The way I see it, is that every cake you make is an advertisement for your business so I want every single cake to be something I am happy with. I don't necessarily have to be in love with the cake but I certainly want to be proud of it and happy for it to leave my kitchen. I think you are right artscallion, I need to market myself as a designer instead of a decorator. I'm fairly new to the business so it's no big hassle to market myself this way. I just would rather be the kind of decorator that people come to with a theme and an idea and then leave me to come up with a design. I certainly flat out refuse to copy someone elses cake. Part of the reason I love cake decorating is because I'm creative and it's a great outlet for me and copying another designers cake would just be unsatisfying for me. I think I'd rather lose a small amount of business early on in order to let people know exactly what service I offer.

Thanks everyone, I love reading other peoples perspectives.

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leah_s Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:18pm
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I've definitely turned down cakes that I knew I wouldn't enjoy making because they were ugly, a bad idea, had plastic stairs . . . Not many, but a few. If it's not something I want to put in my porfolio, then I won't make it in the first place.

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DerrellC Posted 16 May 2011 , 10:08pm
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Well said Bakerann. Susan will not do one,no way no price.

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AnotherCaker Posted 16 May 2011 , 10:22pm
post #11 of 20

I absolutely won't do overdone designs or things I think are hideous anymore. I implemented the policy at the beginning of the year, and just completed the last one I didn't want to do a couple weekends ago (they booked a long time ago). I am fortunate I can restrict business like that, as I know some people can't afford to turn down work. But it got to the point of, swiss dots, scrolls, and quilting were killing my spirit, and I was hating what I was doing. Loathing it. Despising it. So I tactfully inform clients that I will only work on creative or unique designs now, or create something completely custom for them. I have loved all of my custom work since making that change, and am looking forward to every single order I have coming up. Except for complete silence from one bride awhile ago, I have had nothing but positive responses. Oh I lost one who was insisting on stairs and fountains. Oh well. icon_smile.gif

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KellyJo3 Posted 17 May 2011 , 12:33am
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I just posted on here about a week ago, about a cake I did for a customer with her design idea. She sent me a pic of a really nice cake that she wanted with some of her changes and ideas. I did her design idea exactly how she wanted it and it was horrible with her design changes. I suggested some of my own design ideas and even sent her a pic of the cake with her design. She hated it and I ended up giving her a full refund because there was just no pleasing her. I learned from now on from that experience, and from some great advice from all my fellow CC's that I will not do a cake that I know will look horrible and I will have final say in all cake designs. I even rewrote my contract stating that fact. If they come back and say "nope" I wouldn't do the cake. Hopefully they'll like your design better.

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costumeczar Posted 17 May 2011 , 12:37am
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People come to me with requests for things that I don't do, and I just refer them out. I have no problems with it. Different shops do different things, and I wouldn't go to a Honda dealership expecting to buy a Volvo.

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nanefy Posted 17 May 2011 , 12:42am
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Yes, that's definitely the road I'm going to take. The way I see it, is that I am not a production line cake decorator and I could not be happy just popping out cakes for people that I know look hideous, even if they do like it (hey some people think it looks good walking around with so much fake tan on that they look like a tangerine - just because they like it, doesn't mean it looks good lol). I stopped working for other people and doing my own thing because I specifically wanted to be my own boss with my own artistic license so I'm just going to go with my gut instinct and if that means I lose a sale because I refuse to make a hideous cake, then I just have to accept that.

Costumeczar - I had to laugh when I thought about me saying to a customer 'yeah I'm sorry but I don't do cakes like that, but I do know someone who often makes horrible cakes just like the one you want' ha ha ha

It is just horrible cakes I'm referring to - for cakes that I simply can't make because either I'm not good at them or because I've never done them before, I'd have no problem pointing the customer in the right direction - it's specifically when you know you could make the cake, but that you refuse to because it's down right horrid!

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Marianna46 Posted 17 May 2011 , 12:58am
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I agree with all you guys about the naughty and excessively gross cakes, not for religious reasons, but because I don't like them. I have what I think of as a good sense of humor, so I love making whimsical, humorous things, but I also think of cake as my artisitic medium: it's what I do instead of sculpting and painting. I reserve the right to have the final product look gorgeous, not like decorated garbage (I'm probably overestimating my talent by a good bit, but I'll get there).

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costumeczar Posted 17 May 2011 , 3:34pm
post #16 of 20
Originally Posted by nanefy

Costumeczar - I had to laugh when I thought about me saying to a customer 'yeah I'm sorry but I don't do cakes like that, but I do know someone who often makes horrible cakes just like the one you want' ha ha ha

Now now, make sure that you never say "horrible cake" to a customer, that wouldn't be professional. Make sure to say "Gruesome cake" instead. icon_wink.gif

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cakegirl1973 Posted 17 May 2011 , 3:51pm
post #17 of 20

I have turned down doing cakes that I thought would be ugly. This includes when someone has given me a picture and also, more recently, a cake that a high school student sketched and wanted me to do for her graduation party--which was really a mismash of different design elements she had seen on various cake shows. When I met with her and her mom, I made suggestions of changes to make it a stronger design. She did not want to make the changes, so I politely told them that I don't think I am the person to make this cake. Ultimately, I was afraid that my dislike of the design would somehow come through on the cake, so I declined the order.

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nanefy Posted 17 May 2011 , 4:39pm
post #18 of 20
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Originally Posted by nanefy

Costumeczar - I had to laugh when I thought about me saying to a customer 'yeah I'm sorry but I don't do cakes like that, but I do know someone who often makes horrible cakes just like the one you want' ha ha ha

Now now, make sure that you never say "horrible cake" to a customer, that wouldn't be professional. Make sure to say "Gruesome cake" instead. icon_wink.gif

or we could just give them the link to the cake wrecks website and tell them they can choose from any one of those 'talented' cake decorators!!! icon_wink.gif

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Sassy74 Posted 17 May 2011 , 6:00pm
post #19 of 20

I don't decorate cakes as a business, but I still try to give friends/fam what they ask for. I've done two or three that I thought were atrocious, but the recipients LOVED. Diff'rent strokes, people...

One was designed by the birthday girl who was turning 13. She wanted it to be bright orange with pink/purple accents, and the weirdest gumpaste flowers I've ever seen. I did it exactly as she requested and she absolutely adored the cake. Score.

A recent cake was for a friends baby shower. Her fave colors are black/white/silver. Yes, she wanted those colors on her shower cake. It was the weirdest baby shower cake I've ever done, or ever seen lol . To each his own.

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nanefy Posted 17 May 2011 , 7:45pm
post #20 of 20

I can see that everyone is different and I have no issue with other people doing the cakes I don't want to, but for me, although essentially it is a business, it has to inspire me and I have to be creative. If I had to make a cake that I knew looked awful, it would kill me to have to make it. I'm happy to work with my customers to tweak their designs or suggest alternatives, but when it comes to the crunch, if I still end up thinking the cake would reflect badly on my business, I would not take the order. The way I see it, is that although I personally know that the customer chose the horrible design, potential customers who see the cake don't know that and I certainly don't want them thinking that I was responsible for making a truly horrible cake. I want EVERY single cake that comes out of my kitchen to be an advertisement (in fact it is whether I want it to or not) so I it has to be good.
It's been mentioned before that you wouldn't go to an Audi dealership looking for a Volvo, so when people come to me for a cake, they come for MY artistic ability and MY style. Of course I can work with their ideas and colours etc but ultimately the end result is a cake designed with my particular stamp on it. In order for my business to function this way I know I need to market it as such - start as you mean to go on as they say.

However, each to their own, we cant all be the same or offer exactly the same service. What I want from my business is different to what other people want and that's what makes up the market place.

Thanks for all the replies guys.

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