Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

Look out folks i'm gonna have a rant!!!! (but not reallly)

ok here goes, for the last 5 years i've been doing my full time job in a little village near to where i work , i'm a hairdresser by trade for the past 25 years my boss there was such a lovely person but just over 4 yrs ago she retired and sold it on to 1 of the girls, What a nightmare!!! its a really small place, just her doing 2 1/2 days me working full time another girl working 3 days and a couple of part time assistants. for most of the time she has owned the salon she has continually been "awol" sometime for days on end leaving me and the other girls to pick up the pieces.  She is an alcoholic  and lots of other things which I wont put on here and goes on frequent benders.

I work for her 5 days a week very often starting early, finishing late and working through lunch breaks and very often have had to double up to keep her clients happy as well. i also work for myself mobile about 30 miles away (where i used to live) 1 day a week and do my "caking" during my 1 day off and evenings.

I get no thanks from her and have not had a pay rise for the last 4 yrs but still work incredibly hard on her behalf, I know times are tough for us all at the moment but she is running the business into the ground and it breaks my heart, as i love my job the other members of staff and the clients there.

Well the straw that broke the camels back came 2 weeks ago when I dared to complain that I couldn't do a service that was booked as we didn't have the stock to do it with,( how embarrassing was that) and had to send the client away to return on another day thankfully my clients are very loyal to me!!  and as usual boss lady was not working!!. That evening she telephoned me and ranted and raved down the phone bfore finally calling me a f******* pile of S******. how charming.!! and as if that wasn't bad enough i then got another load of abuse from her mother 2 weeks later after the boss had been on another 10 day bender!!!

I'm not a horrible person but I dont suffer fools gladly, and the stress is really affecting my health but i've finally had enough and after much heart searching have decided to go completely mobile and get out before the business finally goes bankrupt which it will if it carries on this way. My clients have asked me to to there hair at home and so I will oblige.

Sorry to offload, but rant over, my god that feels good to get it off my chest.

So this is my conundrum I really want to cut down considerably on the hairdressing to take some of the strain off of my health, (but not give it up I still love what i do) and really get my cake business off the ground but how do I do that without spending a fortune, at the moment I'm really just caking for family, friends and some of my hairdressing clients,

I know I can do it if I can just get my name" out there" a bit more. Any advise any of you lovely people may have would be greatly appreciated.

P.s. Sorry it was such a long post.

 

 

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Les - I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you the answer to this, but sadly I can't.  I only do stuff for family and friends too and I would have no idea how to make a living from it.  But I bet some of the Brit cakers on here will have some ideas.  I'm just posting here to give you support and offer sympathy and an ear when required.  I totally know how you feel as many years ago, I had a boss that was doing a similar thing - drinking my hard earned profits (vintage port for lunch lol).  He wasn't such an a***h*** as yours in fact was quite a nice guy.  But in the end I decided that I was not killing myself for someone else's benefit.  You have done exactly the right thing, mate.  Perhaps you could trim your client list down to the absolute favourites (those that bring in the most revenue) and be very firm about your days off.  Explain to them why you are doing it and don't deviate from your plan.  Ads in local newspapers perhaps?  Do you have a website?  Yes, you certainly can do it, your talent is amazing and I really mean that.  Go for it, I wish you the best of luck and when you need another rant, just message me. xx

Oh Les
How awful!!! My very best friend in the world was a alcoholic. She just went into a year long rehab. A Christian organization. This was her "last chance". Pretty much alienated everyone she knew. When she was sober.... Good person, hard worker. I agree with Katy, you made the right decision. The owners Mom is in denial. I am surprised your old boss would have sold her hard earned business to someone like this?? Anyway, she WILL destroy the business because the bottle is all important. All of you have been covering for her for too long. Now about caking. There was a chap that but a new website on here featuring home based cake decorators from all over the UK. Perhaps you can search for it here. You need to create a Facebook page for your cakes. Perhaps get some business cards made. Think there should be a UK caking group here? Put a bug in their ear & see what info you can get. Go on to "cake boss" website. NOT the tv baker. This site is business based software. There is good info on their about business.
If I can think of any other advice, will let you know. :0)

June, you're right, there is an English Cake Makers group and I see you are a member of it Les.  Try posting your questions there too.  Not all members are UK based, but most are I think.

Thanks for your support Katy and June i will look into your suggestions and see what I can find out.  I already have business cards and my own face book page,  I will get a business face book page up and running in the next day or two and look into sorting out the other things you suggest.

Les, You have a captive audience YOUR CLIENTS, give them a sample of your cakes  i.e. cupcakes, cake pops etc as a thank you for being such loyal clients.  You built your hair client for your hair business not utilize them to build your cake business.  Contact wedding officiants in your area.  Take samples of your cakes to other salons, doctors offices, dentist offices etc.  Put your business card with the samples a  menu of cakes you make with some pictures.  If you don't have a website get one done or make one yourself.  There are several website builders you can use that are Free.  wix.com, weebler.com are two I know off.  Participate in charity programs offer a discount on a cake or raffle off a cake (up to a certain dollar amount).  Link your website with the officiants website, wedding planners, venues, etc.

I hope this helps.  Here is my website to give you an idea www.krazyaboutcake.com


Don't give up on doing hair, I have a hair license to in Florida, not doing hair now I work in the corporate world as well as doing cakes.  I can retire in a couple years and plan on doing cakes and go back to doing hair or teach cake decorating or teach cosmetology part time.

Best of Luck

Barbara

Wow, Barbara, this is just an awesome piece of advice. Kudos to you!

Barbara said:

Les, You have a captive audience YOUR CLIENTS, give them a sample of your cakes  i.e. cupcakes, cake pops etc as a thank you for being such loyal clients.  You built your hair client for your hair business not utilize them to build your cake business.  Contact wedding officiants in your area.  Take samples of your cakes to other salons, doctors offices, dentist offices etc.  Put your business card with the samples a  menu of cakes you make with some pictures.  If you don't have a website get one done or make one yourself.  There are several website builders you can use that are Free.  wix.com, weebler.com are two I know off.  Participate in charity programs offer a discount on a cake or raffle off a cake (up to a certain dollar amount).  Link your website with the officiants website, wedding planners, venues, etc.

I hope this helps.  Here is my website to give you an idea www.krazyaboutcake.com


Don't give up on doing hair, I have a hair license to in Florida, not doing hair now I work in the corporate world as well as doing cakes.  I can retire in a couple years and plan on doing cakes and go back to doing hair or teach cake decorating or teach cosmetology part time.

Best of Luck

Barbara

Thanks Barbara I will definately get round to getting my website up and running as soon a I've got a bit more time. your website is really informative. I must admit I haven't done cake pops or cupcakes as I tend to go for the larger cakes but it's certainly something worth thinking about.

That really bites and isn't it amazing how much one will put up with until you go 'no more'? 
Ok to business.

1. The very first thing you need to do is make a business plan. I did a short course just for this last year and it solidified all those things I 'knew' about my client base, where I was coming from and where I was going with my business. It takes a bit of work but it is well worth it in the end AND at the end of it you have a pretty awesome document to submit to banks in order to apply for business loans etc.

2. Social media is THE most accessible portal for most people. By having a presence on FB, Twitter etc, you are putting your business out there for people to see what you're capable of. Once there you need to make sure that your business page comes up in the news feeds each day, You do this simply by making a post each day. This will keep your profile up there with friends, family and customers so you remain in their minds eye.
Most people have ready access to facebook etc and, in my experience, find it easy to contact you. It also acts like 'word of mouth' advertising and people 'like' and 'share' both your page and your photos of your creations; and as we all know, word of mouth advertising is the most effective advertising there is.....and the least expensive.

3. Work smarter not harder. Decide what you want your business to be. For example, I decided that I didn't want to be making 'everday' cakes. I wanted to make special occasion cakes and novelty cakes. They're not the sort of cakes for your run of the mill birthday - that's what supermarket cakes are for - I also don't do cake pops (except for friends but I don't advertise it) or cupcakes (again for friends and family and again I don't advertise it). You can try to do too much and end up with nothing. So specialise and do it really well, so you can mark out your niche and do something that will make you stand out from the rest.
Would it be better, say, to do a couple or big orders each week rather than a lot of little ones? If you're going to go the cupcake and cakepop route, make sure you have a miniumum order in place so your'e not just going to all the trouble to make less than a dozen.

4. Write an advertorial for your business. Newspapers, especially the local ones, are always looking out for stories to fill the pages. Write it as if you were a third person looking at your business and don't forget to submit photos (at least 300dpi) with it. They may not use it that week or even the next, but it is there and that sort of thing rather than paid advertising, will get you noticed.

5. Make sure you have cards or a flip book at hairdressers, beauticians, nail bars, wedding shops, party hire, as well as reception venues, wedding and party planners, etc. Go in and introduce yourself so they remember the face and the name.

6. Professional business cards and business stationery will cement your professionalism in people's minds. I know a lot of people use vista print (as do I) but I upload my own images for my cards so that it is different from the rest. I know they have a lot of templates on vista print, but how many times do you see the same design for a variety of businesses - they don't stand out. You need to stand out from the crowd to catch people's attention.

7. Approach your local council and find out what licensing laws affect you. Do you need to register as a business? Do you need to have an accredited kitchen? Should you hire a commercial space to bake in? It seems that laws between shires and councils vary... a lot, so it's best to find out for yourself what applies to you.

8. You can also 'blog' which is an alternative to having a website as such. A lot of cake blogs offer mini tutorials on how they do things, tips and tricks, as well as photos of their work and other's work that inspires them. Both with social media and blogging, you need to present yourself as an 'expert' in your area of expertise. You may not think of yourself as such, but just think what you are capable of compared to 'Joe Average'; he would see you as an expert.

9. Look around your region. What is missing? What can you offer that others don't? What makes your cakes so special compared to others? Is it range of flavours? Decorating expertise? Price? The fact that you're the only one in your area that will deliver? The quirky nature of your designs? 

10. Bring joy to your work and it will come out in what you do. Being happy about what you have created and being able to make someone smile or even grin is an awesome thing to be able to do. Holding this to your heart it will come through in both your art and the way you deal with potential customers.

Wow Bettina

Great info!!!!!    So detailed!!!!

If could also make another suggestion Les. One of my cake club members was trying to get "out there", and she approached Ronald McDonald house and offered to do celebration cakes for the children/familes staying their for free. We here can write off the dilivery, supplies, and labour for those type of cakes. Now, that wasn't foremost in her mind, but it helped.  She made sure she had pictures taken, left her business cards. It was amazing she said  the word of mouth business from the families & employees. This did two fold. Firstly, it helped out a great charity, and Secondly.... she felt great giving.  A win win.   There maybe a worthy charity right where you Les  that would appreciate and benefit from something like this???    :o)

Bettina - awesome, wonderful advice.  Les, isn't it great how people care on this site and go out of their way to give all the help they can?  Do keep us updated about your progress, we all want to see you on TV!

Here Here Katy!!!

Thanks so much for the advice guys your all so supportive and helpfull.  I will certainly be following most of the advice that I think will work for me in my area. I'm working to get my website up and running soon as well.

Not sure that I'll ever get on TV though Katy I'm way to much of a stress bunny when it comes to completing a cake, I'm working on a wedding cake for my brother and sister in law at the moment and on a scale of 1 to 10 think i'm about 640 at the moment hahaha!!! not sure there's a TV station out there that could deal with my stress levels my partner has threatened me on more than 1 occassion that he's moving to Australia !!!!!

 

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