I want to be a cake decorator …

Dear Interest,

Congratulations on your choice of becoming a Cake Artist!  I can’t tell you how much I love what I do. When I wake up and when I turn in for the night I am thinking about cake artistry. This is a sure sign that you are destined for this field. Yes, Cake Artistry is a profession. This isn’t a project, art, or journey to be taken lightly. As with any other profession,  challenges cometh from near and far. It would be sloppy of you to think that cake decorating is just fun and games. A two tier construction can take up to 8 hours including baking, cooling, frosting, fondant, piping, and sugar appliques.

Let me give you some advice, do take a few Wilton courses to get your hands dirty. If your a home based maven, Wilton will give you the basic skills you need to advance yourself.  Yes, take the courses in order there is a method to the madness of Wilton. Do take an active role in ICES. The International Cake Exploration Societe http://www.ices.org provides affordable membership to national and international sugar artists with a common goal of sharing, advancing, and encouraging exploration of the sugar arts. You have the option of attending Days of Sharing where you meet and explore sugar crafts with seasoned members.  After completing your Wilton series, you should locate individuals that have taken classes at well known institutions and you should be willing to learn more techniques. Wilton is for the home baker. I didn’t get to where I am today if I didn’t branch out to study with Lisa Mansour, Bryson Perkins, Vanessa Greeley, Susan Carberry, Eva Salazar, and so forth. Wilton is the platform and if you want to go far you must build up.

Do not sell yourself short!!! I can’t tell you how many newbies decide that since fondant is cheap in certain chains of stores they charge little or nothing. You will learn that the cheap fondant will show any imperfections on your cake or leave a bitter after taste. You will learn that creating a two tier Sesame Street Theme cake can take up to 8 hours or more from start to finish. I am a baker and a cake decorator. Some people use store bought cake mix and that’s okay because there are plenty of ways to doctor up a cake. The cake mix doctor has a slew of free recipes on her website.   http://www.cakemixdoctor.com/ We all have to start somewhere right? You deserve fair compensation. When you lower your standards it hurts the profession and other cake artists business. Do not steal someone else’s cake and apply it to your web site. Its okay to re-create someone else’s work at the request of a client or as a learning technique. As a learning technique, change up the colors or appliques a bit.

Watermark  your work! This will aid against another individual attempting to utilize your creation as their own. Personally, i don’t care if someone steals my work. They better know how to execute it for their client. If you have a secret recipe, then that’s what it is a secret recipe. Do not feel as though you have to share your recipes with others. I have signature recipes that’s off limit from others. I won’t share it. I have techniques that I would prefer to share than a recipe. I recall attending a class where someone asked me what I was I putting into my icing. She said are you scared to tell us and the other sugar artists. I told her, “I’m not scared it’s just not your business”. Keep it simple!

Find your niche! I value quality over quantity so I don’t mind importing certain ingredients that provides my cakes with a wow factor! I’m all about the taste. Brand yourself but don’t steal. Make sure to register with your state, obtain a business license, a servsafe food handlers permit, IRS EIN number, and a tax permit. If you desire a store front, register your logo with your state trademark office. I can’t tell you how many people I have come across utilizing my old logo and attempted my name. In due time, I will take care of those individuals the legal way.

Lastly, find yourself a mentor. Do not get discouraged some of us are very busy and don’t have the time to allow someone to shadow us. Utilize ICES as a platform to find a mentor.  Explore products from different vendors. As I was told growing up there is Good, Better, and Best.

Confectionately Yours,

Kayisha Thompson

Cake Executive Officer