Student Desires To Open Up A Cake Shop In California!!

Business By 1nonlyqueen Updated 1 Apr 2014 , 7:36pm by howsweet

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1nonlyqueen Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 6:33pm
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I'm currently an unemployed student majoring in psychology/alcohol & drug studies with a 6 year old daughter. Fortunately, cakes help me earn some money :lol: !!!!

As a child I was always that kid that would draw during class but eventually my inspiration to draw diminished as I grew older. By the time I was 16 I discovered a new art form which was CAKE DECORATION!!!! I could now combine my drawing skills with some creativity to form delicious edible forms of art haha:D!! 


I am now 23 years old and the customers I receive are recommend from friends and family. The one little thing that bothers me is that friends are secretly getting some commission off of my orders. For example, a friend tells me she has someone that wants a cake and asks me for prices, when it comes time to delivering the cakes she pays me instead of me receiving the money from the actual customers.. SUSPICIOUS MUCH?..Im pretty sure she OVER PRICES MY cakes! Then again if she didn't refer these customers to me money would be tight.....



Its time to turn my ambitious thoughts into actions!!


I would like to open up a small cake shop and maybe one day have my mom quit her jobs to run the shop while I work in some job related to my major. My mom wanted to go to school to become a Pastry chef but my grandma said no because it would not make her any money... HA!! THE IRONY :P


This is why I would like to ask for advice from all of you who once were in my shoes and are now successfully living out your dreams...


what are the first steps to open up a shop,

how much money should I have saved up,

what rule regulations need to be followed,

what certifications are needed in order to open up a shop here in Glendale California or Los Angeles area,

& most of all tell me your personal experiences!!   




THANK YOU!! :roll:     

11 replies
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liz at sugar Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 7:10pm
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First, you may be underpricing your cakes if your friends can regularly mark them up and make a commission or finders fee.  Check out the numerous pricing threads here for more information.


I am assuming the cost of living in California is higher than where I live, so be prepared to save at least $50,000 to $100,000 to get started.  You need to assemble some figures: possible rents, how much all the equipment would cost, build out costs, inspection and licensing fees, etc.  Those are just the basics - there is much more to add in, but that will give you a starting point.



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costumeczar Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 9:51pm
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Well, your grandmother was sort of right, it won't make you MUCH money.  The cake market right now is totally oversaturated because of the popularity of cake shows on tv, online classes and tutorials available left and right, and with cottage laws taking effect all over, prices are being driven down by the sheer volume of availability and people underpricing hteir cakes.


I don't know what the laws are in California now, whether you need a commercial kitchen to sell cakes or whether the cottage food laws would cover you. that's something that you need to call your local department of health to find out.


As far as opening a business, there's a lot more to it than just doing cakes. I'm also a psychology major with a MA in counseling, and I have a studio art background. None of that would mean squat as far as having a cake business goes if I didn't have experience with managing a business, which I got through working as a manager at a department store. What I'd recommend is to find your local SCORE office and make an appointment to talk to someone there. They can give you an idea of what it would entail to open a shop. I personally have no desire to open a shop because I do like to have at least ten hours or so "off" a week.


Stop taking business through referrals unless you're talking directly to the customer. I don't work with coordinators who won't let me talk to the client for a few reason, some of which include the taking a cut thing, but also because that's a good way to get details wrong and end up with unhappy customers. If a "freind" calls and says she has someone who needs a cake, you should say thanks, and what's their phone number so that you can call them directly. If they won't give the informaiton out then you don't take the job. Chances are that if she's taking a cut of the cake price she's also telling people that she made the cake.

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natt12321 Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 11:12pm
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Originally Posted by 1nonlyqueen 


I would like to open up a small cake shop and maybe one day have my mom quit her jobs to run the shop while I work in some job related to my major. My mom wanted to go to school to become a Pastry chef but my grandma said no because it would not make her any money... HA!! THE IRONY :P



This rings alarm bells for me personally. If your real desire is to work in a profession related to your major then I don't think opening a shop is a good idea at all. If you want to commit to it and make it a business, work hard and work many many many many hours on it, then go somewhere local that can give you advice about starting a small business in your area. If however you think it is a quick way to have mum help you make extra money while you go off and do something else completely unrelated I would definitely think again!

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IAmPamCakes Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 11:17pm
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AExactly natt. Owning a business is a big commitment. Bigger than just saying "oh, hey! I'll open a bakery! It'll be a hoot!" It will take lots of planning, tons of money for buildout, and a business plan. Cottage laws make it easier, but it still takes planning & commitment to get off the ground.

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1nonlyqueen Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 3:46am
post #6 of 12

Thank you all for your advice and yes you guys are right opening a business IS a big commitment!!! I think I'm still at that point of my life where the world is my oyster hahaha but i will look in at the cottage food laws you guys mentioned. Regarding the referrals I'm going to start asking for the customers numbers. I cant stand others gaining some money from my own hard work



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AmbitiousBeginner Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 4:05am
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CA just recently passed a cottage food law allowing you to bake and sell cakes out of your home.



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1nonlyqueen Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 4:08am
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YAY!!! Thank you very much for the link!!! I really appreciate it!! 

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1nonlyqueen Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 4:19am
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Ambitious Beginner .... I took a quick look at the web page of the organization you volunteer for and I think what you guys are doing is amazing!! You guys keep doing what you do ;-D:party: 
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ellavanilla Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 7:17pm
post #10 of 12

AYou're right, the world is your oyster, but I don't understand the idea of opening a bakery, because you make cakes, and hoping your mom will run it someday. They are two different dreams.

If mom wants to open a shop, she should. Starting a biz is a full time job and a new bizm from scratch, could take years to turn a profit. Do you understand the hours necessary? Would you want to commit years of your life to one career, and then turn it over to Mom? Will she be able to create the product that you create?

Best thing you can do, IMO, is write up a plan and go from there. Until you crunch the numbers, you'll have no idea if any of it is feasible.

Good luck!

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Gingerlocks Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 7:26pm
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Just be careful your not biting off more than you can chew..a young child and school AND a start up business. That's a lot for anyone. Any business is tons of work, and especially in cake decorating you need to be a business woman first..I have a Bcomm degree and I am still overwhelmed by the cake business sometimes. 


I mean its a great business don't get me wrong..but it's like having a full time job and then a part time job; after you've pulled a full 12 hours of decorating, cleaning and dealing with customers; then your "second" shift starts: the books, account reconciliation, laterally goes on and on. A physical bricks and mortar business is a lot more work than people realize; it seems glamorous some times, but it takes years of hard work before you can hire people to do the leg work. 

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howsweet Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 7:35pm
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AYes, sometimes I'm grateful I don't have a storefront. A couple of weeks ago I worked until 6am Saturday morning finishing the cakes, then delivered them starting at 8am. Got finished around 2 went to bed and passed out. The kitchen didn't see a mop until Sunday. Not possible with a storefront. Of course that's also an example of terrible time management ;). I plan on never doing that again.

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