Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A Day In The Life - Cat's Whiskers Cake Design

This is my 100th post! I cannot believe I have reached this milestone and more people everyday want to read what I write. Thank you to all of you who take a few minutes each day to read and comment on my posts.

As it's Tuesday it is time to share a day in the creative life of somebody and todays will make you hungry, so I appologise in advance!  Today Helen from Cat's Whiskers Cake Design is going to tell you a little bit about her company and how she spends her day.  Baking cakes for a living is alot different from baking a few cupcakes in my kitchen, as I learnt from reading Helen's post. It takes a lot of planning, creating and still fitting in time to market yourself. So now I will pass the pen (or rather the keyboard) to Helen to share a day in her life.

Hi, I’m Helen (thought I’d best introduce myself first!) and I run Cat’s Whiskers Cake Design. I spend my days mainly covered in icing sugar and edible glitter and I love it.

The business is run from my home in Ramsbottom (yes that is a real place!) which is on the edge of the Pennines, north of Bury in Lancashire. I work with my mum and we bake and decorate all sorts of cakes, cupcakes and biscuits in my kitchen and dining room. What started off as a hobby about six years ago has turned into a way of life through hard work, some good luck, lots of support and the odd twist of fate.

The business was set up in 2005 when I was on maternity leave with my eldest son. Orders built slowly and for a number of years I worked on cakes whilst doing first a part-time and then a full-time job in Finance. Then in September last year, while on maternity leave with my second son, I was made redundant during a restructure at the company where I worked. Taking my courage in both hands I decided it was a ‘now-or-never’ kind of moment and I now get to do what I love for a living. The business is building and we’re getting more and more orders and what’s even better is I’m around to do the school run.

So a day in my life revolves around both the business and my sons – a situation I’m sure that many people will recognize! And my days are very varied according to what orders we have and how busy we are. Generally we do all our baking on a Monday and Tuesday – most of our orders are for the end of the week. And then Wednesday is icing day! Mum moves round here for the day and we decorate the cakes together plus she’s a fantastic help with the boys leaving me hands free to finish what we need to. If we’re busy, icing-Wednesday spreads into Tuesday and Thursday as well, which is happening on a regular basis! We take inspiration from all sorts of places – and between us we suggest different things and try out different ideas. Sometimes it’s a case of making a cake and then leaving it and looking at it again the following day and that extra little something will occur to you. Admin and accounts are done on an ad hoc basis! Orders come in via phone or e-mail and we operate an online cupcake, biscuit and sugar flower shop. I have a very larger diary that has everything written down in it so I can catch up when I get chance.

This week has been a cake-free week, a rare occurrence I’m pleased to say! But I’ve been making wired sugar roses for a wedding cake and they’ll be going through the post and today I will be icing frog-shaped biscuits also for the post. We’ve had time to ice up some dummy wedding cakes for a wedding fair coming up in September and this morning I’ve had a lady come round to discuss plans for her parents’ diamond wedding anniversary celebrations – she liked my ideas and that is now a confirmed order for a main cake and also for miniatures for each of the guests. From next week things start to get hectic again as the diary is already filling up with orders. We have two wedding fairs this side of Christmas and then we’ll be running a stall at two of the Ramsbottom Christmas Markets this year too. We also get asked for a lot of last minute orders so a busy week can end up crazy as we try and help out whenever we can….maybe I’d best finish the ironing this week and sew name labels in the new school uniform!

Working from home gives me a great deal of flexibility so I can work late if I need to and also see customers outside of normal business hours. I try to keep early evening as family time and if I need to work later once the boys are asleep then I can. Some things, like sugar flowers, can be made in advance but most of our work is done within a few days of collection of the cake so it can be time pressured. We’re delighted that we have repeat customers though and I had one lady in tears because she loved her daughter’s christening cake so much! It’s fantastic to be part of a special celebration and to help create something unique.

I’m very lucky to get the chance to give my dream a shot – I couldn’t do it without the support of my husband (who puts up with endless ‘Does this look right?’ kind of questions!) and my parents….we had a stall at a local market earlier this year and we were so busy baking for the week beforehand that my Dad did endless icing sugar shopping trips! My sons love me being at home too so all in all things have worked out really well. Hopefully the business will keep building the way it has over the last twelve months and I’ll be leaving an icing sugar trail around my house for many years to come!

Thank you Helen. This is a great insight into the organisation required to run a cake business from home.  I'm now going to see if my children have left any cakes in the tin that we made yesterday!

Cat's Whiskers Cake Design


Don't forget you can share a day in your creative life, I'd love to hear from you.
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1 comment:

NOfkantsCurios said...

Oh my goodness, they are stunning! Almost too good to eat, but I bet they taste as wonderful as they look!

Natalie x

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