Each week it seems that I see a post in a Facebook group where a baker/cake decorator is giving up selling cakes and are closing their business. They give varying reasons, the long working hours, the customers that want bespoke cakes for supermarket prices, to name a couple. How did it come to this?
I think one of the reasons is the way that many bakers find themselves in business. Quite often, as was the case for me, they start making cakes for fun for family, then for friends and before they know it they’re getting enquiries from friends of friends and decide they’ll try turning their hobby into a business.
The main problem with this quite often turns out to be that while they love and understand cake they don’t love or understand the business side. They see themselves producing works of art in a calm, organised environment, wowing customers with their delicious cakes and amazing decorating skills and earning thousands of pounds (this was my vision too).
The reality is often very different. They find themselves working very long hours, often until the early hours of the morning. They get stressed trying to get orders completed ready for collection whilst juggling the demands of perhaps another job or a young family and frequently for very little financial reward. Its no wonder so many are saying enough is enough and giving up the dream.
I think many of the cake decorating programmes on TV can also give customers an unrealistic idea of what is achievable, particularly the competition type. The competitors have 4 hours to produce huge 4 or 5 tiered extravagant cakes with a team of helpers. Most cake decorators working from home have no assistance, they do not have 3 extra pairs of hands, let alone 1 and a 4 tiered cake will take many hours of work for one person.
I think many bakers would carry on with their business if they felt they were earning a decent wage for the hours they put in and for the high quality, bespoke product they are selling. I’m not sure why there is such a problem commanding a high hourly rate for a work of art just because it is in cake form. Other skilled artists know their worth and charge accordingly, why not cake artists? I will discuss the issue of pricing again in my next post and welcome your thoughts and comments.