Candy's Cupcakes Blog

Making Cake and Living the Dream

Candy's Cupcakes at Smithills wedding fair

Having worked for a Manchester based Supported Housing company for the past 11 years, alongside running Candy’s Cupcakes and looking after two young children, I’ve realised that I am not Super Woman (despite trying to pretend) and something had to give!

Being Creative With Cake

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of my ‘roles’, I ultimately found that my passion was leaning more towards using my creative side. Being involved in the happier days of people’s lives such as their wedding, christening or birthday celebrations is much more rewarding. I adore the look on happy customers’ faces when they collect a cake and send photographs. It’s also a pleasure to receive beautiful words of thanks on a weekly basis.

Cake decorating started out as a hobby when I had my first born. As time passed, friends and family would ask me to make cupcakes and cakes for them. I decided to create a Facebook page to post all my pictures and keep them together. Unintentionally, this soon expanded at a rapid pace and I was attracting people who weren’t friends or family. I found this overwhelming and a huge complement. After all, word-of-mouth is still the best way of generating new business.

From this moment, I decided to register my hobby-come-business with the Inland Revenue and had my kitchen inspected by the council (5 star rating). I also bought public liability insurance and began to invest in tools and equipment. I started watching a number of YouTube videos, online tutorials and read a number of library books about cake decorating and recipes.

Starting Out

Without sounding too cheesy my husband has always been my ‘rock’. He had belief in me that I could succeed long before I ever did. He decided to invest in my business and gave me £300 to purchase the tools and equipment I needed to get started (if only he knew how much I have actually spent on tools and equipment to this day haha). With the £300 I bought a mixer, as I soon found that my mums handheld electric whisk wasn’t very practical! I also bought a few cutters, a craft knife, business cards, cupcake boxes and cupcake cases in bulk.

Fast forward a couple of years and I now have a super duper website ranking high in Google, again thanks to my better half who also happens to be a web designer and social media consultant. I have a successful Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Cake Décor and Google Plus account which creates sales and increases brand awareness. Thanks to social media and an online presence, I have built a hobby into a successful business bringing in regular orders.

I continue to teach myself new techniques and follow a number of successful, inspirational cake decorators online, there are so many fantastic artists out there. It’s good to make friends within the cakey world and learn from others and not be afraid to ask for advice/tips.

Over the past few years I have developed my skills and experience, and have moved on from making cupcakes to making five tier wedding cakes and becoming an award winning cake decorator. Look out for me in future competitions.

From 30th October 2014 I will be a full time cake decorator, aiming to expand my business further. Look out for video and picture tutorials, blogs and classes. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my career and hope to be even more successful.

My Tips to Being a Cake Decorator

  • Cake decorating is time consuming and involves a lot of unsociable hours. Only consider pursuing a full time career if you are willing to put in the hours and still smile at 2am when you are happy with your creation.
  • Be prepared to invest most of your profits back into your business for the first few years. However try not to be suckered into buying every fancy utensil, cutter, stencils etc. Try and think “can I recreate this by hand?”. If so, you will save a fortune and demonstrate your skill set.
  • Pricing cakes is probably one of the most difficult aspects of the job as people tend to have a strict budget when it comes to buying celebration cakes.  However, the skills, equipment and techniques required to produce a bespoke cake design soon mount up and needs to be reflected in the overall cost. There are a number of useful online tools or apps you can download to help cost a cake correctly.
  • Never underestimate the amount of time a cake decorator has to spend on taking good pictures of their work, editing, uploading and sharing recent work. Other time considerations are writing blogs, tutorials, delivering cakes, wedding consultations, wedding fairs and waiting in for cake collections.
  • Register with your local council, inland revenue, purchase public liability insurance and start keeping accurate records/book keeping.
  • Find a good, reliable wholesaler (Tom Anderson). Look out for local offers at supermarkets and buy in bulk to increase profits.
  • Approach local companies who have window space and who would compliment your business. For example florists, balloon companies or wedding dress shops. Offer to provide them with a dummy cake to advertise the work you do.
  • Don’t feel obliged to offer your services for free or make too many donations. You will receive a number of charitable donation requests. However, as a small business you need to ensure you can afford the time and cost of donating products. A lot of companies will also expect a cheap or free cake in return for publicity. Ensure you weigh this up, as from personal experience you can get stung and be out of pocket for no return.
  • Purchase business cards, book onto local fairs, events and get ‘seen’. A good investment would be a website that can be found in local Google searches.
  • Always make sure you are 100% happy with your finished product, don’t let anything leave your kitchen if it isn’t perfect. The added time of re-making an order is worthwhile compared to an unhappy customer. Always think of potential repeat custom and reputation. A good business should thrive off ‘word of mouth’ and be backed up by a website and social media channels.
  • Discover your strengths by attending courses or self teaching via online tools and books.
  • Work to your strengths and avoid taking on orders that are out of your comfort zone.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

If you’ve got any tips or advice about for anyone considering taking the leap, then please comment below.

7 thoughts on “Making Cake and Living the Dream

  1. Thank you for the information. It to is my dream to turn my hobby into my own business soon. I had some free time on my hands and took a Wilton Cake decorating class at my local craft store it was so fun to me. I just started out but I look at my cakes before and now and I am getting better at it. The tips you shared are really helpful and I will use them

  2. Wao – both excited and proud of you for taking this big step……..I hope to do the same some day very soon. All the very best with the business and I would be pinning your site to learn from you ………..your cakes look fab………

  3. Thank you both for your kind words. I’m glad that this blog has been useful and I hope that it will inspire you to take the leap one day soon.

  4. Thank you for sharing you experience, I have just started a you 1.01.15 my own business. I would like to start making Wedding cakes more and thinking of booking Wedding Fair in Feb – not sure if that is the right step? some fairs are £50 a table another £175? … not sure what to do, can you advice? have you done one? It will be lovely to know. Congratulation in your success 😉 its good to hear that you are doing so well xxx Regards Beata

    1. Hi, I am glad you have found the blog useful.
      I have also done a blog about my first wedding fair and there are a few tips from my personal experience.
      Since that blog I have also attended other fairs and it would seem that you certainly ‘get what you pay for’!
      I spend £250 on a large, well advertised fair and have taken approximately 5 orders (one on the day!) I have attended smaller, cheaper, local fairs and they have been an utter waste of time and money.
      Personally I will only be attending a couple a year that are well advertised.
      Make sure you have a stall that stands out from the crowd, have around 6 or 7 dummy cakes, business cards, and consider adding price tags as I found this useful.
      Once you build up a portfolio of dummy cake designs, pay to promote the images on Facebook, get a website and aim to get it to the top of Google. You will soon be turning orders away.
      Best of luck. Here is the link to the other blog…. http://www.candyscupcakes.co.uk/blog/wedding-exhibition/

  5. I have just come across your page and wanted to say thank you for being so open honest and informative, everything you have said makes so much sense and is so helpful to an dedicated amateur like myself. Knowing that people like yourself started in the same way gives me hope and inspiration to carry on producing products I am proud of which give such pleasure and to know I may grow like yourself one day – thank you and wishing you continued success for the future. Best wishes Netty V

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