Archive | April 2012

Crooked Brook Chef Coat Giveaway 3 Winner!!

Happy Sunday, Friends!  It is time to draw the winner for the third Chef Coat giveaway.  Just like last time,  I took the entries received from entering a comment on my third giveaway and put those names in a bowl.  You only go in the bowl if you comment on that particular giveaway.  Here we go for the Crooked Brook Chef Coat!

And the winner is…

Martha T!! She has been a regular follower of this blog almost from the start.  I will email her next to tell her how to get the coat shipped to her.  Thank you to all who commented on the third giveaway.  Don’t forget to check in each week to see what the next prize is!

As a reminder…here is the what she won:

 

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Tis the Season

A month ago, I flew to Orlando for the Florida ICED Cake Show. I had rented a car to drive to Ocala, the site for the show. When the lady gave me the price for my three day rental, I gasped. Out loud. I double checked that I had rented a midsize for just three days. She said yes.

I expressed surprise since the same rental the week before in New Jersey had been a third of the price. She shrugged and said “It’s spring break.”.

Turns out that everything in resort areas costs more during the busiest times of the year.

Then I got to thinking about florists and how that $12 bouquet of a dozen roses becomes $75 around Valentine’s Day. They are so busy, they can charge almost anything. Other businesses do the same and charge more during the peak business times.

It made me wonder, why don’t we charge more for weddings in May and June? Why don’t all bakeries shrug and say “It’s wedding season”? Can you imagine? We could all make double or triple the money to offset the ridiculous number of hours we work (and overtime we pay) during wedding season.

Do any of you implement seasonal pricing? If I still had my bakery and if I thought other shops would follow, I would certainly have been willing to give it a try. After all, ’tis the season!

What do you guys think?

Crooked Brook Apron Giveaway 1

 

Happy Wednesday everyone!  I have a bonus giveaway!  Crooked Brook wants you to check out their very cool aprons.  They are giving away an apron (perfect for guys or girls).

Pottery Aprons or Split Leg Aprons are either bib or waist aprons that have a split down the center front (to provide ease of leg movement when in a seated position), and sometimes have leg ties and a pocket.

Used by farriers, potters, gardeners, chefs, cooks and kitchen workers.

The pottery aprons can be made in any of the fabrics Crooked Brook offers, and you may also customize the length to meet your specifications.

Although all Crooked Brook chef coats are made to order, they have various styles and sizes that were not made according to the customer’s specifications or have slight imperfections. These are the men’s and women’s chef coats I have partnered with Crooked Brook to offer as giveaways.

Since 1989 Crooked Brook has designed and manufactured chef jackets for the world’s most recognized chefs. Each one of their chef coats and aprons is made to order in the USA, and can personalized with your choice of fabric, pockets, buttons, piping and embroidery.

Style #710

Split front waist apron

White 100% Cotton Denim Fabric (10 oz.)

Irregularities:  NONE

Price:  $45 including shipping

 

For question regarding size, please refer to their size chart or contact them at 315-733-1992

To enter, visit Crooked Brook and leave a comment here with the description of an apron that you would like to see offered as a giveaway in the future.

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to win.
Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time) 05/9/12.
Winner will be chosen by sugarzen.wordpress.com and contacted by email.
Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
Crooked Brook will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.
Physical address required for shipping; no PO boxes, US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

The Backup Plan

I love the romantic comedies that feature a couple that make a backup plan – if neither is married by a certain age, they will marry or whatever. I started wondering how many of you have a backup plan for your business.

It seems that the majority of decorators I know work alone. If you get sick or you have a family emergency, how will your cake orders get done? Today I going to recommend that you find a friend and become each other’s backup.

Ten months into the ownership of my bakery, I went to the doctor for what I thought was the stomach flu. It turns out I had a cyst on my ovary that had ruptured and I was bleeding internally. I needed an emergency hysterectomy and was prepped for surgery the next morning. In the routine blood tests, they discovered my leukemia, which served to complicate the surgery. Long story short, I spent two and a half weeks in the hospital, had 4 surgeries and was a whopping 88 pounds when I got out. I was so frail and weak that it took a couple weeks to regain my strength for work. In the meantime, I had lots of weddings going out at my shop, not to mention birthday cakes. How were they going to get done?

I was blessed with Andrea Marshall, my dear friend that helped me open my shop. She could bake and decorate, but needed help. My sister in law, Phoebe Brummett, was working the counter for me and she started decorating at that time. But the biggest blessing came in the form of my sugar “mom” Maxine Boyington, who came in, assisted with decorations, delivered the wedding cakes and basically ensured that my business carried on until I was strong enough to return.

When Maxine’s cancer returned and she needed help, I was able to return that favor. When another competitor lost her fiancé to an overdose, Maxine and I did her weddings that weekend.

When my friend Pat Jacoby lost her husband, she only had a few orders that week, so her staff was able to handle it, but Peggy Tucker had driven in for the funeral and offered to help with the cakes.

Two years ago today, I lost my dad. My amazing team once again stepped in for me. The anniversary of his death seemed like the perfect time to ask you what you would do if the unthinkable happens.

If something happened to you tomorrow, what would happen to your orders? Have you ever talked to a cake buddy to make arrangements? If not, this is your wake up call. Life gets crazy and things happen. People get sick. People die. Please call a friend today and agree to be each other’s backup. It may be one of the most important calls you ever make!

Crooked Brook Chef Coat Giveaway 4

Hi everyone!  I bet my guy friends have been feeling a bit discouraged by the giveaways so far…but do not fear!  Crooked Brook does so much more than just amazing coats for women!  They make coats for men and some of my favorite decorators like B. Keith Ryder and Terry Tuttle wear coats from them.  They make aprons!  They make hoodies.  They print t shirts with your logo.  I have some of all of their items…all made just for me!  So Crooked Brook and I want to show off some of the cool things over the coming weeks!  Get ready….we are about to have some fun.  For now, let’s get the word out to the male decorators that I have a giveaway for them….or you could always make your husband dress up for you when you guys deliver cakes!  Best of luck!

Although all Crooked Brook chef coats are made to order, they have various styles and sizes that were not made according to the customer’s specifications or have slight imperfections. These are the men’s and women’s chef coats I have partnered with Crooked Brook to offer as giveaways.

Since 1989 Crooked Brook has designed and manufactured chef jackets for the world’s most recognized chefs. Each one of their chef coats and aprons is made to order in the USA, and can personalized with your choice of fabric, pockets, buttons, piping and embroidery.

Size 44-Full Tapered: Athletic-slim cut (bottom opening circumference 44”) Chef Coat Style BSM 101
● White, 100% cotton Gabardine

● Left chest tailored welt pocket.

● Faux Mother-of-Pearl B buttons

● Irregularities; None

(Regular Price: $140.00 including shipping)

For question regarding size, please refer to their size chart or contact them at 315-733-1992

To enter, visit Crooked Brook and leave a comment here with the description of a chef coat that you would like to see offered as a giveaway in the future.

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to win.
Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time) 05/9/12.
Winner will be chosen by sugarzen.wordpress.com and contacted by email.
Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
Crooked Brook will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.
Physical address required for shipping; no PO boxes, US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

 

Crooked Brook Chef Coat Giveaway 2 Winner and picture of Winner 1!!

First of all, I have to apologize for this drawing being a few days late.  I went to Spain with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the Madrid Marathon and to demo at the Spanish cake show, ExpoTarta.  Jet lag took its toll yesterday, so here I am catching up.  Just like last time,  I took the entries received from entering a comment on my second giveaway and put those names in a bowl.  You only go in the bowl if you comment on that particular giveaway.  Here we go for the Crooked Brook Chef Coat!

And the winner is…

Kimberly Douglas!!  How exciting!  I actually met her 2 years ago at Mike Elder’s KC CakeFest when she attended my demonstration.   I will be sending an email to her shortly with instructions on how to have the coat mailed to her.  Thank you to all who commented on the second giveaway.  Don’t forget to check in each week to see what the next prize is!

I thought some of you might like to hear from the winner of the first coat!  Kim wrote to tell me that she opened my email on her phone in the car with her husband driving.  She screamed so loud, he thought something went wrong and she got in trouble like one of the kids!!  Too funny.  She got her coat and, it looks like it was made for her!!  Really!  Check out this photo of her in the coat.  I think she looks just beautiful.

She’s Kind of Sketchy

A friend wrote me the other day to see if I would tackle a problem she encountered. A difficult customer tried to place an order for an elaborate cake, but only wanted to spend $50 (sound familiar, anyone?). My friend politely indicated that she was unable to make a cake to her specifications for that budget. A little time went on and the customer contacted her again. This time the customer gave my friend a sketch from another bakery and said “she wants $150 for this cake, can’t you make it for less?”.

My friend looked, and the customer had given her a custom drawn sketch for a two tier cake with 3 fondant figure and other embellishments. The designer had signed the sketch and put a copyright on it. My friend made a copy, then sent the customer away without accepting an order. My friend contacted the creator of the sketch and informed her that the customer was “shopping” the sketch to try to find a cheaper price. In the end, the two bakeries both refused to work for this customer.

So, what is the takeaway from this episode? Does putting copyright on your sketch keep others from “stealing” the design? What if the decorator says she was “inspired” by the sketch, but “made it her own?”. Where is the line? This is a fuzzy area and you need to consult with someone who specializes in copyright law for a real answer. While I used to practice law, that is completely out of my specialty area.

How do you protect yourself without hiring an attorney? I have a few good stories to share. When I first opened my bakery, I would give out sketches of designs to my brides after the consultation. I didn’t charge for the sketch. I thought it showed what a great person I was to hand them a custom designed sketch. When someone didn’t book with my bakery, I never even wondered about that sketch again. How naive.

One day I got a call to help out a local competitor whose boyfriend had overdosed and died. Another decorator and I jumped in to do her cakes. When I got one of the wedding files I looked at it only to find one of my sketches. Yep, I had designed the cake. She booked the cake doing my design exactly and, in the end, I was the one creating the cake in my sketch.

I felt so betrayed that day. The thing was, I was doubly betrayed. I was betrayed by the bride who shopped my sketch and I was betrayed by a competitor who knew she did not design the cake. That day, I changed my policy. No one received a copy of my sketches unless they had paid a deposit to reserve their date with me. No more free design work.

The next betrayal came following a meeting about a grooms cake. A decorator called up and said that she was doing the cake for that groom and would I mind moving my display of it into my front showroom window so she could come by to look at it and study it. Ummmm, no!

The uber talented Debbie Goard says that there are cake designers and cake decorators and that there are miles of difference between the two. I think there are artists who see creations in everything and are constantly designing original cakes. I think there are technicians who excel at the mechanics of cake decorating, but are not blessed with either the confidence or skills to take a blank sheet of paper and custom design a cake from scratch.

My friend Maxine Boyington used to say that she was excellent at recreating designs. She swore that she could not decorate a cake without taking elements from other cakes to come up with the design. After a while, I started to believe her and saw that she liked to brainstorm with me because I could see designs in my head without first seeing them somewhere else. Does this make her a cake thief if every design is inspired by someone else’s work? I honestly do not think so. She was always quick to tell us what inspired this design or that.

I think decorators become sketchy when they lead their customers to believe that they are artists or designers when they are actually just excellent fabricators. They can be amazing cake decorators; they are just not designers. The only time a line is crossed for me is when someone knowingly uses another person’s work product. If I design it for a customer, you should not under cut my price and do my design for that customer. In law school they told us that our rights extended to the tips of our fingers, but not to the tip of the next person’s nose. That meant that the exercise of my right cannot directly infringe on your right.

I caution us all as decorators and designers to remember to give credit for the inspiration for our designs, to not help customers rip off artists by doing their sketched or photographed designs (without permission) and to uphold the integrity of the sugar arts in our behavior with our competitors. In the end it comes down to the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you.