I’ve been meaning to add a bit of a blog to the website for some time. This post isn’t negative, in fact it’s a celebration, a celebration of how far I’ve come and what I have achieved. If you are a fellow cake maker I hope you can take inspiration from it and if you are a customer or prospective customer I hope you can read this with positivity and understand why I am writing about this.
I’ve been running CAKE by Lil’s Parlour full time for nearly 3 years now, and I absolutely love it. I get up most mornings looking forward to the day ahead and excited to get cracking on the exciting projects I have lined up. There has been one thing making me feel like I want to stay in bed lately though, and that is the shadow of the “cheap cake lady”.
Everyone who runs a confectionery business has probably been the cheap (insert food here) lady or man at some point. It’s how you start, you don’t know what you are doing. You stand in the rain while your cakes drown, and in the summer you stand watching them melt. You lug your gazebo through a muddy field only to find out you are next to 3 or 4 other “cheap cake ladies” and spend your day in misery while the lass next door reduces her prices even further and the event is a dead zone, your cakes get thrown in the bin and your family get fatter as they are constantly given left overs. In the early days I didn’t make a penny profit, I didn’t know how to. All I wanted to do was make people happy and get them to taste my inventions which I knew were pretty damn good. I used every penny I took at events to build my skills, buy new equipment (hello £500 kitchen aids) and attend courses. I lived, breathed and thought about my business. I still do. At this point it wasn’t really a big deal as I was working full time as an SEN teacher and my salary was paying for all the scary stuff, and most of my cake ingredients too.
Roll forward 5 years and I’m doing this full time, i’ve got a stand alone studio workshop (agghr, how !) and my income from cakes is paying for all the scary stuff .. well, it used to. Lately things haven’t been going so good. They say numbers don’t lie so I sat down and priced every single thing I had made in the last month. Gosh, I hadn’t made a penny, in fact on some things I had taken a whopping loss. That bespoke topper, those macarons I threw in for free, those expensive peonies someone forgot to get, but you can’t spoil someones special day .. they all add up. They add up because everything has gone up in price. EVERYTHING.… and then going through my emails a lot of people don’t want to pay for what things cost, reams and reams of email threads in which folk bargain and try to cut you down, or get extras for free. Reading them back I felt like Del Boy. Then after all the hours of emails you never hear from them again.
It was then I sat back and realised the ghost of the “cheap cake lady” still sat on my shoulder. I still had those feelings of “not good enough” and my overwhelming cheeriness gene telling me to make people happy.
I don’t want to be the cheap cake lady anymore, why? Because I am really good at what I do, hours and years of experience and practice, hundreds of amazing reviews, and for this business to continue I need to be able to make some kind of a profit.
So, what have I done? Well for one I have increased my prices, they are still fair and still offer amazing value for money for a luxury, bespoke product. I am not prepared to cut corners on ingredients or quality so the buck has to stop somewhere. I have also uploaded a really good range of cakes ready to order from the website. It’s really easy, choose your design, choose your size .. give me at least 2 weeks notice. Happy days! This will hopefully mean the hours and hours of emailing backwards and forward, sketching, changing sketches will stop, because I’ve finally realised every second of my time is valuable.
I am stopping taking orders for “bespoke” celebration cakes (other than wedding cakes) for a couple of months. For the time being only designs ready to buy on the website will be available. This is going to give me time to recharge, design some more stuff for the website. They can still be personalised with toppers or messages (for an extra charge). The pressure and constant emails about designs, the bartering and having to price them up has been getting to me, and for the first time ever I have felt like I don’t want to do this anymore, I thought I left my stomach flipping when I got a new email back in the classroom.
I am so so lucky that I have a growing gang of AWESOME, committed customers who come to me time and time again, lift me up, wipe my tears, bring me pressies (you know who are are because I bet you are reading this.. ) and I hope these small price rises and changes don’t send them elsewhere
Here’s to the next five years of growth and amazing stuff … and that cheap cake lady is most definitely locked in a box never to return.
To check out the range of cakes available to order you can click here.
(Please note a minimum of two weeks notice is required, if you have a cake emergency give me a call and I can usually fit this cake in).