Let me set the scene.
I was chatting to a Physiotherapist at a Business Networking Event.
I’d taken along about 50-or-so minicakes to give away to the members, and I was happily working my way around the room. Funny, isn’t it, how people are always happy to accept free cake? Go figure!
Sandra , the Physio (name changed to protect the ignorant), told me she had a daughter that LOVED The Gruffalo.
“OOHH…” said I in excitement “I’ve only just made a Grufallo cake. Let me show you.”
So I whipped out my phone, found the photos and proudly showed her my cake (Yes, in hindsight I should have made the tree canopy ‘dome-shaped’, but it was one of my early cakes).
“That’s wonderful,” she said “how much would you charge for a cake like this?”.
When I told her, she turned pale.
She looked at me incredulously – as if I’d said the only way she could get one of my cakes was if she trekked to the top of Mount Olympus and sacrificed three golden lab puppies to the God Of Satin Ice.
She rocked back in her pretty pair of Hobb’s Heels, gulped, and said “You charge HOW MUCH???”.
And cue the steam coming out of my ears…
Why are Cake Decorators so undervalued?
I believe there are several reasons why people undervalue what we do… and it drives me nuts!
1. Anyone can make a cake: Yes, anyone can take a photo but that doesn’t mean they’re a photographer. A lot of work, time, patience and practise goes into making a good cake. And as the saying goes, Cheap Cake Ain’t Good and Good Cake Ain’t Cheap.
2. Baking is seen as a hobby, not a profession: When people imagine us making cakes they think of us wafting around the kitchen in our aprons to the smell of fresh baked vanilla sponge. If we weren’t baking for them, we’d be baking anyway. So why do we charge for our time?
3. They don’t realise just how long cakes take to decorate: Perhaps they just don’t think about the process. Perhaps they’ve seen too many baking challenge TV programmes where the contestants rustle up a cake in 26 minutes (with a break for adverts and a cup of tea).
4. But MOSTLY as a profession, we don’t value ourselves. And that’s just crazy, don’t you think? I don’t know about you, but I can’t even tell you how much I invested in my Cake Business in terms of training, equipment and ingredients (in fact, I know the exact number as it’s in my accounts… I’m just in denial and have wiped it clear from my memory).
I’ve lost count of the 3am finishes.
I’ve lost count of the last minute cakes I’ve squeezed in, because I couldn’t bear the thought of little Tommy not getting a birthday cake (because every year his birthday changed date, his poor parents!).
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen amazingly-talented cake decorators in Facebook & LinkedIn Groups worry that they’ll lose customers because they need to put up their prices so that they can earn something near minimum wage.
As a collective, we need to start valuing our talents and our hard work.
And do you know something?
The next time someone comes to you with a Walmart budget, tell them they can jog on straight to Walmart. Your hand-crafted cake is out of their price bracket.
Oh, and The Physio??
I gave her a Paddington Cold Stare (for anyone without kids, it’s the look your mum would give you as a child that would freeze you on the spot) and said…
“That cake took me 12 hours to bake and decorate. How much would you charge for 12 hours of your time?”
Do you think cake decorators are undervalued? Do you charge a fair price for a fair day’s work? Have you ever been challenged on your pricing? Let me know in the comments below…