Well here's a little rant for the day...it's been a while. (A whole week at least!) For those who frequent my Facebook on a regular basis, you will be no stranger to my occasional p*ss and moan, but today I choose to rant on my blog as I don't think my gripe (it might be looooong!) would fit into the status box provided without spilling over to another page. This post is dedicated to all those who have had successful cake businesses and have sadly over the last few months...weeks even...decided to hang up their sticky aprons and concentrate on something a bit (lot) more appreciative of their time.
For the past year I have concentrated on sorting out personal stuff and with the sale of my little shop/house (long and boring story which is not entirely relevant but still makes me want to burst a gut...not that I am bitter or resentful in any way...at all...honest) I have relocated to a little piece of heaven in my opinion, out in the sticks and away from town/village mayhem. Now that I am settling in to my new domain, I am finding it extremely difficult to get myself known as a cake maker without forking out shed loads of stupid cash on advertising. The phone is ringing occasionally so the potential for new customers is certainly there....until that is, you give them a quote for the type of cake they have in mind for their special occasion. When someone says to me in the first few minutes of conversation, "I don't want anything too fancy, just a plain sponge." then I know that I should just hang up there and then. I can do a plain sponge for you, but what about the covering and the decoration? Baking the cake isn't the biggest cost here, but shouldn't be dismissed either. Ingredients...not forgetting the petrol used to shop for such....gas/electricity, storing, layering, filling, covering...it's just a cake, right? Wrong! The next step is to find out what type of decoration is required...and there you go. People expect Cake Boss, Choccywoccydoodah, Ace of Cakes...in West Lothian/South Lanarkshire or any other collection of villages...for £50! For £50, I will bake and cover a 7" cake for you, place it on a cake board and maybe even put a little bit of ribbon around it. How does that sound? The little Dracula pictured...how long did that take me? You want me to add him to the 7" cake too? I'll charge you a further £25. (He's small....bigger models with more intricate detail will cost you more) You want extras? The cost continues to rise. What do you realistically expect for £50 from a bespoke cake maker who does everything from scratch? No moulds...no pre coloured pastes (unless to cover a large cake perhaps).
Then there are cupcakes. Not just a cupcake with a buttercream swirl on top. Little hand made toppers to go on each one. These can be more time consuming than making larger models and much more tedious, but we do it because it's what the customer wants...if the price is right. But these days more and more, the price just isn't right at all. Customers are blinded by the supermarket offerings and the TV shows which are obviously not educating the public by explaining in much detail, just what this means as a cake maker/decorator. Not explained in terms of money OR the sacrifices made by many just so they can have a successful business. I ranted about my lethargy in pushing myself too much in this industry that I love so much because of the responses...many of them just plain rude...when I quote a price on their expectations. The number of friends...Facebook related, but nonetheless friends, who have supported and stuck by each other on this social media...who have given up or lost businesses because of the lack of respect and understanding they get through doing this job is overwhelming, and just plain sad.
Am I giving up? Nope. I'm surely not. But I'm not going to give in either. If you want to have a special cake made by hand, designed and created for you to the standard you would expect for the money you are quoted then I will continue to provide such a service. To those who want to start with a budget of £50 to serve a hundred guests, let me tell you this...the loaves and fishes story is in the Bible. I don't possess such skills as the loin clothed icon who could turn out miracles at the flick of a wrist. My Kitchen Aid can do some tricks, but churning out cheap cakes is not one of them. If you are on a low budget, a personalised and skilled bespoke cake maker is not for you. By all means, make your enquiries and see if there is something that fits your bill, but please....please....don't be rude about it if it doesn't.
Cake makers and decorators stay strong and respect this over indulgent industry. Don't let the "I'll do anything you want for a tenner!" bakers put you off or shove you into a corner. Just remember, good cakes aren't cheap and cheap cakes aren't good. It's okay to say "NO!" once in a while too...politely of course.