Are you in love with cake design? Are you a newbie to the world of cake artistry, or are you a seasoned professional?
I remember when I first started out baking, and then decided to take the leap into starting a cake business. It was ultimately fun and exciting.
At the time, I thought I had nailed down my niche. I had a love of vintage, from 1950s tea towel patterns and 1960s wallpaper to retro clothing and mid-century modern furniture. I figured this vintage look would work great on cute cupcakes. I started out simply creating cupcakes, and slowly as I learned more techniques from books (there were no real online classes like we have now!) I began to offer more services.
Sometimes I would take on cake projects that I had no idea how to make. This, I can tell now from experience, is a terrible no-no and a mistake that many cake designers have gotten themselves into! It is silly and stressful, but I believed in myself and was able to pull off the ideas. Still, it was through much trial and error where I learned what I liked to make and what I hated making.
I found sculpted cakes to be terrifying and found delight in creating dog cakes and other animal face cakes! I have learned many a lessons since starting my cake business in 2009. Burnout is also a common problem, especially if you’re doing everything yourself. I’ve burned out majorly at least twice.
Photo via Coco Cake Land
When cake design burnout happens, it can be a good thing. Use it as an opportunity to reevaluate and reassess your business goals and further develop your niche.
This is what I define as what you are good at, the cakes you love to do and what you might be known for, and what you want out of your cake business and what you can offer as an experienced cake designer.
Photo by Amy Pelletier for Coco Cake Land
Here are some tips and tricks to finding and developing your niche as a cake designer:
1. Know your strengths and play them up.
Is there a particular type of cake design you absolutely love creating? Perhaps you could spend days on creating the perfect, realistic sugar flowers, or maybe creating color-matching towers of prettily designed piped cupcakes for weddings is your favorite cake-making craft of choice? Sometimes it takes a few years to know what you really truly love creating.
For example, I know that I like vintage-inspired buttercream piped cakes and cute animal illustration-inspired cakes. Other cake designers are known for clean and modern designs, such as Maggie Austin — her style is so unique and eye-catching. I would describe her work as feminine, ethereal, artful and modern. Sometimes even a photography style can help carve out a niche for your cakes – for example, Rosie of Sweetapolita’s photos all have a colorful, vintage appeal.
Photo via Coco Cake Land for Handmade Charlotte
2. Take classes or be inspired by books or art.
It’s never too late to learn! I find that when I take a class, creativity opens up and I get excited about where I want to go next. Or oftentimes a new learned technique will lead me to use that technique in a different or unexpected way. The internet has opened the gateway to amazing resources – online tutorials and online classes as well as cake conferences and social networking – there is no shortage of accessible learning out there. When I started out I learned from good old books and a few online tutorials!
3. Allow your niche to grow, change or adapt.
Don’t forget, your niche doesn’t have to be set in stone, growth, and change will most likely happen naturally as you learn new techniques or are inspired by other cake designs you see. (Don’t forget to credit your inspiration or cake design source!) Craftsy is a fantastic place to explore for inspiration and to learn the latest and greatest techniques in cake design.
Photo via Amy Pelletier for Coco Cake Land
For more guidance on turning your dream into a reality, check out the Craftsy class How to Start a Cake Business, taught by by acclaimed cake artist Lisa Raffael.