I’ve run into a slight hiccup with re-starting my business, but worth while noting for anyone else who may be thinking about getting in to this game; my landlord refuses to let me run a business from the house we are renting whilst we try to buy. He is well within his rights and has seemingly valid concerns; disturbing neighbours, issues of insurance...
although I have tried to alleviate these, by reassuring him that I would teach from elsewhere and need my own liability insurance etc. but no luck so far. Anyway, it means a slight hiatus on a launch and start date. I am therefore looking for alternatives, kitchens to rent, other businesses which need assistance, and in the meantime researching, researching, researching so that I can hit the ground running as soon as we have a house of our own!
During a session of trawling wedding cake designs, and current trends, I came across this wonderful picture, with such a (sadly) common story. Please look at the beautiful cake I have posted. The number of intricately made flowers, the detail, the colour variation, the cake itself in all its magnificent grandeur. This cake was made by Terrie Elkington of The Little Cupcake Kitchen in Chatham, Kent. She posted it on a Facebook group wondering about her costings. Originally this cake was made for a friend, as a gift, but soon Terrie was receiving enquiries about making a similar cake for customers. Terrie quoted a meagre £450 and was told she was too expensive! This story is one I read over and over again from other cake makers around the world, and it saddens me that all our hard work and attention to detail, stressing that this important part of someone’s celebration may not be perfect, is always going to be put down as "JUST A CAKE". This is not just a cake, this is a privately commissioned piece of edible art! The cutting of the wedding cake is as symbolic as the trading of rings at a wedding; it is supposed to be the first official act that a bride and groom perform together as husband and wife. Its beauty will never tell about the hours of intense work and late nights that we are all used to, and for a four tier cake, the cost of the ingredients alone command a high price.
I’m toying with the idea of quoting for cakes as you would do if I was being, paid to fix a car! Parts and labour. Not many people question how much these things cost, especially if we don’t have any idea how to fix cars ourselves! Unfortunately, a lot of people look at a cupcake, for instance, and say "How much?! I could make one myself for 20p!", but in truth not many people do then go home and bake one cupcake, without it taking them at least an hour, and then does it have the artistry?! Would it look just like the one at the cake stall? Strangely, no one walks into a coffee shop and complains about the cost of an (undecorated) muffin! If you pay £2.50 for a muffin, when you intend to feed 200 people with a commissioned piece of edible art, then you need to be thinking that the cake alone will cost the 200 x £2.50 even before the fondant is on it and the hours of work have been put into the flowers!
So, how do we change the attitude towards our labours of love? Maybe it is worth being more open about parts and labour? Maybe it’s just that our biggest competitor is the cake hobbyist who isn’t interested in making a profit? Or maybe we have to bite the bullet and be prepared to lose a few jobs rather than being scared to ask for what we are worth. It’s a gamble, but I urge us all to become stronger in our quotes, and stand our ground when people suggest "it’s just a cake". A muffin is just a cake. What Terrie and most of the people who read CakeWire make is a commissioned piece of edible art.
Cake made by Terrie Elkington, The Little Cupcake Kitchen, www.facebook.com/TheLittlecupcakeKitch
About Victoria Forward
Victoria Forward has just returned to the UK after two years in Australia, and is setting up cake business "Victoria Sponge", in Buckinghamshire. She previously ran Let Them Eat Cake in the UK for six years providing celebration cakes / cupcakes, cake decorating courses and workshops. In 2012 she won the award for Best Presented Cupcake at the British Baker National Cupcake Championships. Victoria is married with 2 children.