Career Insight: Cake Designer / Decorator
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I design and create special occasion and novelty cakes, for weddings, christenings, children’s parties and corporate events – from multi-tier traditional cakes, to custom 3-D cakes, novelty cup-cakes and character cake-pops.
Why did you decide to become a cake decorator?
It’s a hobby that turned into career. I’m self employed, working from a studio at home and it worked well, as I could work part-time (in the evenings) whilst bringing up children / with young kids at school.
What path did you take into it?
I did a Masters Degree in animation, and then once I started working properly in cake decorating, I topped up with a food hygiene course.
What, in your opinion, is the best bit of being a Cake Decorator?
Being able to be creative, with relative freedom most of the time. Also having regular challenges to try and complete cakes above people’s expectations. Seeing people’s reactions when you’ve created something really special.
Every job has its downsides. What do you think are the worst bits?
It can be irregular work, so it’s not necessarily viable as a business run from a shop, where you have ongoing overheads. Everything has to be very last minute (as cakes are perishable) so it’s not flexible, in that sense. And working with brides / weddings can be stressful!
Is it what you expected when you first started out – and what’s different?
Yes but it’s a fast growing business and far more competitive now than 10 years ago.
What do the public least understand – or mistake – about what you do?
There’s a lack of understanding of the time involved in creating the cakes, and therefore the costs. It takes hours of initial preparation, and then hours and hours of very intense, hands-on work.
What kind of people tend to do well?
Creative, with the ability to visualise something in 3D (cakes are like edible sculpture). Also patient (as there’s lots of detailed work, and it takes time) and flexible. Things often go wrong, and you have to think laterally.
Finally, any advice you’d offer to people looking to get into this line of work?
You’ll have potentially unreliable income, being self-employed – and you need to put a lot of work into self promotion / advertising, to build clients and the business (going to wedding fairs, visiting hotels, building a website and getting your work and name out there). You need to be clear about your worth / the value of your work, so that you don’t undercharge.