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Teddy Girl Cake… Errrm, take TWO.

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So, have you ever made something… say *AHEM* a cake maybe, and when you were finished, you decided you were mostly happy with it? (I say “mostly” ’cause, you know, we “artists” are almost always ridiculously attitudinal and often downright moody when it comes to assessing our own work. COMPLETE head cases, I’d say. But I digress…)

And then, later… it may be minutes later, or even months, but at some annoying point in the future, you look at it again, and you… well… you kindo’ totally hate it? (Told you. Head case.)

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Something (but usually somethingS) is simply NOT right about it, and how ON EARTH did you MISS that nonsense when you were making it??? It’s so glaringly OBVIOUS now when you glance at the photo of it, that you can’t help your shoulders (or your face) from scrunching up, pitching forward, and looking as if you’re suddenly RIDICULOUSLY constipated.
Have you been there?

I have. I AM there more often than I’d like to admit. And sometimes, I just can’t get past it.

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Soo, if you’ve been hanging around with me for a while, you may recognize part of this li’l cake here… the bottom part, to be precise. Yeah… it’s the same (and I mean the EXACT same, as it’s a styro dummy underneath all o’ the sugar) cake base I used for my first “Teddy Girl” cake… the class I taught at Cake Fest this past February.

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But I’ve remade the “Teddy Girl”.

You see, we didn’t, ERRRRM… we didn’t QUITE finish our project in class. (Alright, we so TOTALLY ran out of time that it was a bit shameful. But my students were, like, only the BEST students EVER, so instead of stringing me up by my toenails, they agreed to settle for a private video tutorial to be shared with only them, going over the whole project, to have to refer back to whenever they’d like.)

SO, I had to remake the doll in order to make a video for my riDICulously patient students…
and since this particular doll happens to be one of those projects of mine that brings on said cringing-constipation look, I decided to change her up, ever so slightly.

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Ok, let’s call a spade a spade.
Her old look was just straight up, creepy. (It was. You know it. I know it. EEEEVYBUDDY knows it.  And I’m not even adding her here.  You’ll have to look her up.  But come on, you don’t really have time for THAT, do you? ;) )
I didn’t see it when I first made her… and for the life of me, I don’t know why. But once I DID see it, it drove me absolutely bonkers.
So, when it was decided that I needed to make her again, I thought I’d give her a less-Chucky-like upgrade.
I switched her eyes from “alien-spawn” mode to something slightly sweeter, and fashioned her head a bit smaller which helped her lose a smidgen of her “animation-of-the-dead” sorta thing she had goin’ on.

And aside from some obvious color changes, that’s mostly it.
Teddy Girl #2 (or Teddy girl, uncreepified, if you’d rather).

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I’m glad to have had such jolly, laid back, AMAZING students in class, and I’m glad to have had the chance to give her another go. I’m now (MOSTLY) happy with her… though, maybe slightly afraid to look at her again.

‘Cause, you know… you just never know.

(Head case. Told you so.) Xx

 

Some cake design details…

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I used homemade modeling chocolate (which I HIGHLY recommend) to make my teddy girl AND to make all of the details of her clothing.  (I’ve got a free video tutorial on my YouTube channel, on how to make modeling chocolate, if you want to give it a go.)

But it’s also a great idea to have some ready-made modeling chocolate lying around, just in case you don’t have the time (or the inclination) to make it yourself.

Chocopan stocks modeling chocolate for those very moments. You can check out their stuff, HERE!

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I  used Marvelous Molds’ Angie Lace Mold on the cake tier.  I am in deep, smoochy love with most of the products that Marvelous Molds’ puts out into the world, and this mold is of NO exception.  I LUUURVE it.  And I’m not afraid to show it.  You can find it (and them), HERE.

 You can use fondant or modeling chocolate with this mold.  I just wrapped two layers around the center of the cake, the top layer overlapping the bottom slightly… and I pushed up the bottom edges a bit to give it a slightly “fluffed” look.

I brushed some light green petal dust up from the bottom edge of the cake, in a sweeping motion, (and then flipped the cake to do the same thing with the pink from the opposite edge) in order to give the cake a soft, almost watercolor-like effect. (ALMOST, used rather loosely here.)

You can find most of the tools/ingredients I use (like, EVER) listed in my Tools Shop, HERE.

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This particular project isn’t made out of actual cake… I’ve covered a stryofoam dummy cake here instead.  It’s a good idea to have some of these lying around in case you ever want to practice some new cake designs… or even to use  when you want to make a figure and need somewhere to work on it upright, but aren’t ready to insert it into your cake.

You can purchase some dummy cake rounds (and/or squares) from a company called, Chef Rubber!  You can actually buy a whole LOT of different cake supplies from Chef Rubber… they’re a good site to have bookmarked.  Check ‘em out, HERE!

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And you can get the “crocheted” look of the teddy girl’s sweater from this SUPER awesome, double sided, food safe mold I found on Etsy, HERE!  I absolutely, LOVE it!

(I know you want to see old, creepy doll.  But she’s sleeping right now…

and who am I to wake her?

Gotta go! ;)

 

 

 

Check out Shawna’s full length, $5 video tutorials in her Tutorials Shop, HERE!

 

 

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money

How to Price Your Cakes! (Shhh… I didn’t say that out loud.)

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Ok, I did.  I DID say it out loud.

And it’s on your mind, I know it is.  Even the most experienced of cake decorators still wonder what OTHERS are charging.  But it’s touchy.

It’s a VERY touchy subject.  Pricing your cakes is SUCH a touchy subject that bringing it up in many online cake forums is considered “anathema”, and will get you a proper tongue lashing if you don’t cease and desist, immediately.

It’ll start a nasty cat fight just about EVERY time.  (As you all know, money’s kindo’ like that.)

BUT, you WANT to talk about it.  And rightly so… I mean, who knows this stuff when they first start out?  And if no one talks about it, then how will anyone EVER figure it out?

Sos I’ma bringin’ in an expert for ya, here.  She’s been in the business for over ten years… in fact, she SPECIALIZES in the “know how” of running a cake business… and she’s bloody brilliant, this one.

Her name is Michelle Green, of The Business of Baking, and I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with her for a bit over at the Cake, Bake & Sweets show held in Sydney, last year.  The girl KNOWS HER STUFF.  (Funny as ALL get out, too… which is just a lovely perk, of course. ;) )

She’s written a blog for you, here, letting you know her thoughts on the topic… hopefully helping you along this confusing and often frustrating part of the business.  I call her the “anti-headbanger”.  (‘Cause you know you’ve banged your head up against the wall on this issue at least once so far… and SHE in the BIZ-NIZ of preventing head injuries.  Ain’t no time for DAT. ;)

So without further ado, Michelle Green, on pricing your cakes…

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 How To Be More Confident About Pricing Your Cakes

 

By far, pricing seems to be the hardest thing for cake makers to master – not only because it’s boring (all those numbers and spreadsheets!) but also because it demands that creative people think in a very non-creative sort of way. Let’s be real here, it’s also emotionally hard to put a price on what we’re worth, and more so if we’ve ever gotten one of those, “I need a wedding cake for 200 people and my budget is $50,” kind of emails. Pricing is just not our happy place – we’d rather spend our time learning how to use wafer paper or getting lost in the joy of creating a new figurine. Pricing is where a lot of cake business owners just get stuck, and they get stuck for two reasons.

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Reason One: This is actually about COSTING, not pricing. Costing is what we need to charge to cover our financial outlay, where as pricing is what we charge the customer. So when it comes to costing, cake makers struggle with all the details of it, because no two cakes are ever really the same. What’s my hourly rate? What if I’ve never made this kind of cake before? What’s the difference between labour and profit? How do I figure out my overheads if I’m working from home? Frankly all of this stuff is enough to make your brain start to feel fried before you even put a pencil to paper.

To make this a little easier, here is a very basic guide as to the COSTS which should be factored into your pricing structure:

1) Raw Costs- The stuff you need to buy in order to complete the order. This might be anything from white sugar to edible glitter, cake boards, skewers, ribbons, fondant, the box you packaged it in. Whatever physical things you need to buy or use to make the final product.

2) Overheads – Then non-tangible things you need to pay for to in order to create that cake and run your business. These include things like rent, water and power, kitchen registrations fees, advertising costs and so on.

3) Labor costs – The person making that cake needs to get paid. There is someone baking that cake, sweeping that floor and rolling out that fondant. Even if the person doing all of those is you personally, you still need to account for the cost to pay you to do those jobs. If you were not doing all of those things, someone else would be and they would certainly expect to be paid for it.

4) Profit – This is the money you get to keep after the other three things have been paid for, and also the part of the equation which isn’t so black and white because it’s related to who you’re selling to, what your reputation is and so on. This is much more “elastic” than the other 3 items are.

I’m not going to lie, it can be hard to figure this stuff out. In the beginning when your decorating skills are a bit slow, and your costs a bit high, it can be difficult to do the math and then realize that no customer in the world is going to pay $500 for an 8” cake – even though that’s what your costs work out to. Let me reassure you and say that costing is a skill you learn over time, and something that you improve on over time. On some cakes, you’ll end up losing money and on others, you’ll make a huge margin – the key is to realise that this is a process, not something that you magically get right from the very start.

 

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The second reason why we struggle with pricing is our lack of confidence. We simply lack the confidence to charge what those costing calculations told us what we should be charging. Perhaps we just don’t feel we deserve to be paid for our time, especially as many of us are still learning and so it takes us longer to do things. Maybe we feel a little ridiculous asking for what we feel is a high price because we ourselves would not even consider (or perhaps afford) to pay those kinds of prices. Whatever the reason, we often find ourselves negotiating the prices with potential customers, or deliberately quoting too low because we think that’s what the customer wants to hear and we’ll be more likely to close the deal if we charge less. Any time we need to give a price over the phone or hit ‘send’ on that email, there is a hesitation and then a cringe before we go ahead and just do it. There’s also the lack of confidence in the numbers – did we even do it right? Did we calculate those overheads correctly?

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Here are a couple of tips to help with the issue of confidence:

1) Practice your pricing. Go back and look at photos of your finished orders and cost them out, then figure out what you would charge if someone called and ordered that same cake right now. The best way to get good at something is to practice it!

2) Stop asking strangers online what they would charge. Firstly, they can’t even begin to know what your costs are, nor what your market would be willing to pay, and most of all: they aren’t your clientele! They are other cake makers so they’ve already got a skewed view of it because they too struggle with pricing.

3) Mystery shop your competition AND businesses that are both at a higher and lower level than you are. Find people in your area who have been in business longer than you have been, especially who seem to be doing pretty well with it (e.g. they’ve been in business at least a few years.) You need to have a good idea of what kinds of prices are in your area – and while this doesn’t mean you need to match their prices, it’s a good idea to get a feel for what is currently out there.

4) Remind yourself every day why you are in business. If you’re doing this because you, “just love cake”, you’re going to really struggle to be confident when someone asks for your prices. If however you’re doing this to support your family and give you a more flexible lifestyle, then pricing becomes a lot less difficult because it’s no longer just about you and how you feel about it. It becomes about achieving a lot more in the long run.

5) Remember that your pricing benefits both you AND the consumer – it’s not just about you. The more you charge correctly (and more profit you make), the more freedom you have to become a better business owner. What do I mean by this? The more money you have, the more you can afford to do things like take courses to up- skill yourself (and make better products), you can buy nicer packaging, offer more services, invest in better equipment. All of those things have a direct benefit to you but ALSO a benefit to your customers. You can create better products for them, give them a better experience – and what customer wouldn’t want that?

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I’d love to tell you that there is a magical spreadsheet somewhere where you can put in a picture of a cake and PING!, out comes the perfect price. (Note to self: invent that thing ASAP!) What I can reassure you of is this: nobody gets their pricing correct from the get- go, that it’s something you will get more confidence with over time, and that if making cakes was easy, all those people who want to pay $50 to serve 200 people would be doing it themselves. The gist of it is, you provide a wonderful product and you deserve to get paid for it – even if in order to do so you need to do that whole cringing thing for a while first.

 

Michelle Green is the sole author of the Business of Baking blog. A trained pastry chef, Michelle owned a custom cake company for over ten years before deciding to sell it so she could become a full time mentor to the baking industry. She works as a consultant to a number of baking businesses and as a writer for the food/business industry. She has been featured on or written for a number of publications and websites including Family Circle, candyaddict.com, Cake! magazine, Sweet magazine, allrecipes.com.au, The Baking Sheet and Cakes Decor. In 2015 Michelle will be teaching baking business courses all over the world.

You can reach Michelle here:

Via email: michelle@thebizofbaking.com

Instagram: @businessofbaking

Facebook: /bizbake

Twitter: #bizbake

Pinterest: /bizbake

You Tube: Business of Baking

The official hashtag: #TuesdaysWithBob

The Business of Baking on Tour information can be found here: www.bizbakeontour.com

 

Link to some of Shawna’s  FAVORITE tools in her Tools Shop, HERE!

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Check out Shawna’s full length, $5 video tutorials in her Tutorials Shop, HERE!

 

 

Subscribe to my blog to receive your free penguin tutorial (exclusively for subscribers) and to stay up to date with new tutorials, helpful tips & tricks, and my latest cake designs.

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