Business Going In A Different Direction Than I'm Ready For.

Decorating By Dreme Updated 27 Jun 2011 , 10:09pm by imagenthatnj

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Dreme Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 5:25am
post #1 of 14

Ok I'm starting to stress way too much about this on a daily basis. I just need to vent and get it out. I'm really not liking 3d cakes.

As some of you have read in other post I do not know how to do carved cakes. I do not know how to figure out serving amounts or the cake size to start with. I do however know how to price the cakes once someone else figures out the technical stuff. Seriously math is not my forte. Trying to figure out anything that doesn't have a set number of servings or a chart, will only cause me to stress. As an artist I do know how to carve and sculpt, but not for a mathematical purpose. As an artist I only picture the whole piece, I do not see it from an engineering point of view. I do not try and figure out how it got there it just got there. So if you put a block of clay in front of me and told me to sculpt a boat or something, telling me it needs to feed 50 doesn't mean anything to me, I just know how to sculpt a boat. Whether it feeds 50 or not, I don't know, I never cut one of my own cakes. I don't know how many pieces are there. I just see a boat. Now when it comes to support beyond the basics, I don't know about that either as other art mediums don't necessarily need support.

Right now it seems that the type of clients that are coming to me want sculpted cakes and people are willing to pay for them (darn it tv, why?). The demand is not what I supply. But nobody seems to want my supply. They demand something else. Everybody thinks I can do that type of work, but I know myself and I need to take it slow, I can not produce that type of work yet in cake (the type that will require an support element or extra math). I have been able to persuade some people out of the 3d cake but others no. I fear that they are only going to get harder, they are going to need more support systems (I can't do any type of wood working either. Wow I really wish I would have took shop in highschool).

I'm trying to be positive and be open to pleasing people. Really math, wood working, and the fact that cake isn't sturdy like clay, are the only things standing in my way. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be venting. I really just want to say bump this but from a business point of view but I feel like I can't turn down really good money. I have been ranting to my partner about weeding out small cakes and making bigger money (what I really meant was wedding cakes, and large couture cookie and cupcake orders), I can't wait to get to that point. To make enough money to say no. I'll jump in a heart beat to produce 100 $15 cookies, a $1500 wedding cake, or 750 cupcakes but I cringe at a 3d cake for the same amount simply cause of the stress.

Phew! Sorry for the long post I had to get that out.

13 replies
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Sugarflowers Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 6:31am
post #2 of 14

If you don't want do sculpted cake then don't. It's your business. Let them know what styles you will do. If they don't like it they can find someone else.

Is the stress really worth the dollar amount? If it's causing you this much stress then I think it's not.

People may think they need a sculpted cake, but a nicely done regular cake is probably better. The ease in serving alone might make all the difference to the customer.

Do what you like and want to do. I'm sure your business will still do well.



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ChilliPepper Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 8:22am
post #3 of 14

Oh Dreme I really know where you are coming from on this one! I am so scared of carving cakes that I manage to talk my customers out of going down this route. I convince them that full cakes are much easier to cut and serve and then make models to decorate the cakes.

Stand your ground. Attempting something you are not comfortable with will only turn what is a delightful job into an extremely stressful one.

I intend to start practicing carved cakes on my family because I know that if I screw it up they will still love it!

Stay strong and say no until you are ready.

Love and hugs,

CP xxx

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Ursula40 Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 1:26pm
post #4 of 14

I hate maths as well, so i look and see what forms I have to have the most minmal carving. i love the carving part, but what irks me most is, that most people here in China have the feeling that they are entitled to bargain. i am not local chinese, i use imported and safe products, do NOT use artificial ingredients, bake from scratch and HELL, I am not going to pay myself less than what I pay my Ayi (household help) per hour.

I also get people who want great cakes, custom cakes (with pictures from all over the place Pink Cake box, Duff, Ron ben Israel, ou name it) BUT at a cost, which doesn;t even cover my ingredients. I am not joking, they want me, because I do not use local ingredients, but I should be cheaper for 40 persons, than a local bakery produces for 10.

this year, I am baking and decorating less, because I am payng myself what I am worth. the clients who book are more than happy, I am happy, because I make the cakes I WANT and I make them special and most of all, I sleep more and better, cause I have finally realised, that if I do not realize my worth, noone else will. My cakes are getiing better at a rate they never have before,because I am really enjoying them. they want custom cakes, they get them and they TASTE!!! as well. a client, who books with me this year, most often has a small surprise when they pick up. If I am happy decorating, I will often think of something new while decorating and just include that as a surprise and thank you, that they didn't bicker about the price. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sick of that

With carved cakes, they pay the amount of double of the servings they need, (I will happily give them the scraps, better on their hips than mine, they taste great as well) but what is expensive is the TIME and expertise a carved cake takes, in addition to the cost of the ingredients.

In an 8 hr show, which airs in maximum 60 minutes, the bakers bring the baked cakes with them. People watch the shows in 60 minutes and THAT is what they remember, the bakers finish the cakes in 60 minutes. they do not realise, the cakes were baked and cooled, the bakers had all sorts of cool equipment (sheeters, assistants, etc). all ingredients were on hand, no one had to go shopping first and all that is condensed, and hardly anyone tells you what those cakes actually cost.

If you do not want to do tall, sculpted cakes or they are out of your comfort zone, tell them you are booked or quote a price that is extreme. if it's extreme enough, it actually is fun to figure out the how (helps to have friends to help out or a good hubby) i have done that and got caught out, BUT I did learn a lot and it pushed me. Up until now, my customers have been happy, some thing I cannot do, because the roads really ARE bad here and the driving practices, well let's just say, they switched from bicycles to cars without knowing how and why) but i have been able to sell larger than needed cakes because of that. They wanted 3D balls for 8, BUT, no way would they have survived the trip, so they ordered a second cake for underneath

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scp1127 Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 3:55am
post #5 of 14

Don't do what you don't want to do. I can't do them and have no intention of learning. You don't have to be everything to everyone. Just be the best at what you love... the best at something is a good place to be in the market.

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CakesGoneSweet Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 4:36am
post #6 of 14

Find another local baker that does 3D cakes talk to them about referrals. A client will understand that it is not something that you do within your business but will return for more business if you refer them on to someone that CAN help them.

Explain your situation to the other baker and become allies on this agreeing to send clients back and forth based on your area of expertise.

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platinumlady Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 5:48am
post #7 of 14

Dreme I have to agree if carved cakes is not your specialty don't allow someone to make you feel you have to do them.

Think of it this way Doctors & Lawyers have specialties...certain areas of expertise when it's out of their expertise ... they let you know & refer you to someone else. This business is no different.

Once you start doing them then people will expect you to continue doing you decide if it's worth it.

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PrivateNameHere Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 12:59pm
post #8 of 14

I like the idea of finding someone to do referrals for. They might send people your way if they get overbooked, you know?
Don't agree to something you are uncomfortable with. It will just be a ton of stress for you. I think everyone has had the moments where you just sit down defeated and cry for five minutes over a stupid CAKE. I try to reduce those moments to zero.
Good luck!

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Jess155 Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 1:09pm
post #9 of 14

If you really don't want to do it, don't.

But -- if it's an area you might like to get into, as there is obviously a demand for it, I suggest you start making 3D cakes for your own family functions. That's pretty much how we all started practicing techniques, isn't it? Then -- cut them yourself. Figure out what approximate size serves 30 or 50 or more. It doesn't have to be exactly perfect. No customer cuts them to the exact size specifications anyway.

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shannycakers Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 2:07pm
post #10 of 14

I went to your websight, your cakes are beautiful! With talent like that you do not need to do 3d cakes if you dont want to, your creations are truly enough to stand alone. I would assume you have plenty of business without them. I did see pillow cakes, 3d purses, pumpkins and everything that look it seems your already doing 3d, but if you dont like them, just dont take any more orders for themicon_smile.gif

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cakesbycathy Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 5:28pm
post #11 of 14

You are in charge of your business. If you don't want to do them or aren't comfortable doing 3d cakes then simply decline those orders. Some people don't do naughty cakes. Some don't make sheet cakes. Do what you are good at and are happy doing.

I would take any pictures of 3d cakes off your website.

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Dreme Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 8:59pm
post #12 of 14

Thank you all for the replies.

The past day or so hasn't been as bad as I have gotten back to the last few inquires that had me worried. Everything came all at once and I got a little intimidated by these types of cakes. After going over this with my partner we got some things figured out on how we are going to handle this. He is an civil engineer by day (the real mathematician), so he is going to start helping me more with them when he can. I'm trying to be positive on expanding this as it means more money for my business. Some of them would be like taking on a huge wedding cake. I have done a few in the past, i'm just really worried about them once they cross the line and start looking like what's on tv.

and while i'm typing this another one came in for a 3d shoe cake.....yay.

I did want to ask, when going over the details over the phone, what is the best way to handle price? My carved cake servings are priced at $5 per serving. If a client says they want 50 servings I don't necessarily want to say that it will be $250 cause the base price will actually be whatever the servings I have to start with times $5. That can make a cake really go up in price. How would I word this to the client?

Forgive me if this sounds stupid, this is just a random idea: Has there ever been a client that's gotten a kitchen cake in addition to the 3d one? Just as if was the same amount as a wedding cake or larger. Then too it's more recognizable by guest that the two are not the same cake. It's seems like it's cooler to eat the main cake if its like a 3d sculpture than if it were a wedding cake. I dunno, just a thought.

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KatieKraft Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 9:51pm
post #13 of 14
Originally Posted by Dreme

I did want to ask, when going over the details over the phone, what is the best way to handle price? My carved cake servings are priced at $5 per serving. If a client says they want 50 servings I don't necessarily want to say that it will be $250 cause the base price will actually be whatever the servings I have to start with times $5. That can make a cake really go up in price. How would I word this to the client?

I would recommend not giving a customer any pricing information up front if you do not have a formula to accurately estimate the cost of those kinds of cakes. Customers will only hear the number, so if you tell them it will be $250, plus the additional cake to be cut down for the sculpting: A) Theyre going to base any other figure you give them off of that $250, and likely not want to pay for the cake scrap. B) Theyre going to start questioning you about your methods and pricing.

(Note: If you want to push people to standard cakes, you could use this as a tool to explain the "per serving" savings of a traditional cake vs. a sculpted cake, if you want to steer them away from the 3D craze.)

If they ask you up front, I would simply tell the customer that you do not currently have a set price per serving for sculpted cakes as it depends on the complexity and detail of each custom design, but youd be happy to provide them a quote within 48 (or 24, or less if you can) hours. If they dont ask, I would take all their particulars and end the conversation with the information that youll work up a quote based on their specifications asap. This gives you time to review the order with your partner and give them an accurate figure from the start.

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imagenthatnj Posted 27 Jun 2011 , 10:09pm
post #14 of 14

Christopher Garren's Let Them Eat Cake charges a base slice price, plus a $ amount per hour of sculpting. Which puts those small carved cakes at a high price. This is his pricing sheet.

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