The Cake Muggles


At orientation for law school, the professor warned us that we were stepping into a black hole for the next three years. We all laughed, but it turned out to be true. To do well there, we had to eat, sleep and breathe the law. So we did.

When I moved into the baking field, it was just for fun…at first. It was a hobby that let me do cool cakes for my step son and for my coworkers. When it becomes your profession, especially if you work for yourself, the black hole opens up and swallows you. I knew when I started my own bakery that it would take long hours. I underestimated. I was easily working 12-18 hour days, six to seven days a week. I insanely thought that I would never turn down an order, so I took everything that came in the door…even if that meant I didn’t get to sleep that night. It became a source of pride to brag about how many hours straight I had been working.

Unless my friends or family helped at the bakery, they simply did not understand how the bakery life goes. Family get-togethers were invariably planned for 2 pm on Saturday…right in the middle of wedding deliveries and birthday pickups. They planned the family Christmas Eve party for Christmas Eve Eve several years in a row. That is the single busiest night of the year for a bakery like mine. Everyone picks up their orders for Christmas Eve. I was blessed that my family were not critical to my face, but I could tell I disappointed them when I fell asleep on the couch at the parties. (We decorators know that as soon as you stop moving, you are toast!).

I visit with a lot of decorators who ask me how to get their family to understand. I wish I had the answer. I really do. It is so difficult for an artist to explain their passion.

With respect to a spouse, you simply have to keep at it and negotiate a compromise that works for both of you. It could be that they let you go to Cake Camp if you let them go on a hunting trip. Or that you only do cakes every other weekend so that you leave time for family. When you do cakes from home, I think that it is harder for friends and family to look upon it as a business. To them, you are at home playing. You and I know that it is the hardest “playing” you ever did!

I decided that it is a bit like Harry Potter’s world. The Muggles don’t understand. They haven’t been exposed to the wizarding world and cannot begin to comprehend what makes the wizards tick. Your family is the same way. They haven’t experienced the rush of making the first buttercream rose you don’t hate or the first figurine that looks like what it is supposed to be! They don’t get a rush when someone posts a new Craftsy class or when your dream teacher is coming to a city near you. They don’t mean to hurt your feelings…they just don’t understand.

You have to be the one to educate them, cajole them and ply them with sweets until they offer you their support. Sometimes they are just waiting to see if this is a temporary fad. Once they see your level of commitment to making a career of cakes, they often will become your biggest supporter.

Besides, cake is still cool. My dad never bragged or got that excited about my law career. And I had a decent one…won some awards, won most every hearing, was in the paper…it wasn’t tangible to him. But put me on a cake TV challenge, have me give him sweets for his Sunday School class or let me do a cake with his race car on it, and I was brag worthy! The poor nurses at the hospital – they all had to hear about me right up until the day he died.

So my message to you is to remember that YOU are the one with the superpowers, so you have to help your family fall in love with your talents. Over and over, I have seen families embrace and support their decorators once they fully understand. Don’t give up on the cake Muggles….they’re just like us, just less “Sweet”.

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8 thoughts on “The Cake Muggles

  1. Thank you, Ruth. In places, I felt like I was reading my own story. I just want to say that your transparency, encouragement, and genuine care for your fellow cake artists is always inspiring to me.

  2. This rings so true here. My Hubby has a cousin who to this day *makes fun* of my *little cake business* – drives me INSANE. He has eaten his own words on several occasions now, since I have done weddings at the State House, the Museum of Art, etc. I think he has somewhat figured out that it IS a legitimate business. (he still calls and leaves messages about ordering 500 cakes for this weekend…hahahaha – his way of making fun of me still) That is ok, most everyone else knows and understands, and has respect for what I do now. I just cringe when I see him come up on the caller ID.

  3. Your bell rings so loud and true! My husband compares me dragging him into a cake supply store like him dragging me into Harbor Freight Salvage. They don’t understand how I can just sit and make flower after flower after flower and be happy with doing it. They don’t understand how I can pull an allnighter and still get to that cake show on time. I try to include them into my exciting world but it’s hard to get them through the cake portal. I’m sure that the day will come, when I am able to start a business, they will understand and basically have no choice but to get involved…..and like it too!

  4. Funny timing. Just woke up from a crash on the sofa after working all day Thursday, all night, all day Friday and got to bed at 2 am Sat morning and still had a busy Saturday. I’m WAY too old for that! I try real hard to manage the orders that I take, but sometimes you take on jobs because you don’t want to let down a friend. It sure does remind me to plan my schedule carefully. I’m ready for some slow summer months now.

  5. So True!!! I am now enjoying a month and a half of relaxation (although i took in two orders for this weekend and a wedding cake for the end of this month). I realized that I had just been going and going..sleepless nights, late nights, early morning. Kids are out of school for summer, so I think its the perfect time to slow down on orders and spend some well needed time with them and husband…

  6. I live this….at first just a hobbie, now I find it is my second job…with my boyfriend wondering if I will slow down…complaining about how much in cake I am doing and offering me to give up my full time job to just stay home and bake cakes…ha-the cake orders come from my full time job…I give him treats to take to work, and yet he still wonders when I might slow down…lol…full speed ahead…and yes it started out just to make some nice cakes for my family…

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