Archive | December 2014

Letting Go

When I decided to close my bakery three years ago, it caught the cake world by surprise. I was running a fairly large, successful shop. Why would I quit when I was successful? The other day, Courtney Clark announced that she was selling her business. With small children at home, she decided she had something more important to focus on. Today, my friend Michelle Klem, announced the closing of her bakery.

I’ve actually had a fair number of friends close in the last few years. The reasons are as varied as each person and each business. Some simply could not financially justify the shop any more. Some wanted more time at home. Some wanted to semi retire and do fewer cakes from home. I found my leukemia coming back and knew I had to cut out the stress of 16 employees and a crazy busy bakery.

Whatever the reason, you will find that you have to go through a mourning period. Even when you want to close, it feels like a piece of your heart is being cut out. I knew my life would never be the same and I would not see the employees, who were more like family, nearly as often.

Watching others move out your ovens or pastry cases is monumental. Driving by the site of your shop will get to you for a bit. But it also frees you up for the next adventure in your life.

I love the show “You’ve Got Mail”. Meg Ryan’s character is going under financially. She meets with a friend and co worker to give her the bad news. Her friend tells her: “Closing the store is very brave. You are giving yourself permission to imagine another life. ”

How often do we let ourselves stay in jobs, relationships or situations just because we are scared to do something for ourselves? All too often, I’m afraid. I had wanted to close my shop a year and a half before I did. My heart was in teaching and I was resenting my time tied to the bakery.

The day I told my employees it was over, was the scariest day of my life. I was surprised to find that the majority of them had been wanting to embark on new futures themselves. All of a sudden, we all had permission to live the lives of which we had secretly been dreaming. Letting go was hard, but living fully was the best decision I’ve made in a while.

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The Pig And The Chicken

My brother and I agreed to do a full marathon together in October in Key West. I always found a good reason why I was just too busy to go train. I was lucky to average one training session every week or two. Meanwhile, Robb got up at 5:30 every morning to run mind numbing laps on his long driveway in the country. Then he got dressed for work and drove an hour into the city for a full work day and another hour drive home. He was relentless.

I saw the following quote and realized I was the chicken.

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like the difference between ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed”…. Martina Navratilova .

He was the pig. I really wanted to become a run/walker. I wanted to shave major minutes off my normal race time. I wanted to finish by my brother’s side and not slow him down. As you might expect from reading my training regimen, I had to switch down to the half marathon and did not cut my time at all.

Robb was fully committed to what he was doing. I was INTERESTED in doing better, but never fully committed. I think many of today’s newer decorators are chickens as well. They are interested in running a business, but unwilling to compute their own costs…despite numerous blogs, webinars and software packages out there to teach them how to do it for themselves.

A representative post the other day said “I have an order for x cookies this Friday. Can someone give me a good recipe for the cookie and the icing and give me a tutorial on how to decorate those?” Are you kidding me??!! Should we pop over to your house and bake it for you as well?

What on earth are you doing taking money from an unsuspecting customer? Why are you experimenting on someone paying you money? What makes you agree to do these cake, cookie, cupcake or other sweets order if you don’t already possess basic skills and recipes?

“I’m ready, but I’m not sure I’m prepared.”…….Singer on Rising Star.

It is time for us all to become more committed to our work. Success is going to come to those who show up, do the work and prepare. I’ve agreed to do a half ironman race in April with my brother and my husband. I’ve committed to ride my bike at least thirty minutes every day I’m home. I’m finally ready to do the true work it takes to achieve better results. Won’t you follow my lead with your bakery business? Are you PREPARED for success? Or just ready?IMG_8999.JPG

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Say When….

Each weekend, I read posts from overworked decorators. They cannot finish their orders in a normal work day and end up going without sleep for a day or two. Sometimes, it is because they have CHAOS.

CHAOS is normally defined as Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. The house is a wreck and you would always rather meet anywhere but your place. In the cake world, I’ve decided it means Can’t Handle Another Order Syndrome.

When I first opened my bakery, I never cut off orders. I worked a record 42 hours straight to make sure I filled all the orders. After I nearly face planted into the open oven when I started to fall asleep, it finally hit me that I had to set some boundaries.

For months I always said yes. One day, with a huge arm twist from my manager/sister-in-law, I said No. I nearly threw up after I hung up from my first disappointed customer. But I survived.

I set rules for my shop. I started letting customers “save a spot” for a cake. Much like a reservation, they just held a place on my calendar. And they followed my rules. The shop started running more smoothly.

You might not be working in the volume that I was, but you still need to be realistic on what you can handle without burning out. We lose too many talented decorators simply because they work the fun out of the job.

And don’t be fooled. As much as you love making cakes, it is still a job. For once, I want you to embrace a little CHAOS and say No. Your bed misses you. IMG_8891.PNG

One in the Hand, Two in the Bush

Parables often have an incredible amount of truth in them. The one above came to mind when I met with a friend about her future. She wanted to pursue being on TV shows and she wanted to travel and teach.

I told her she had to pick one and focus on it first. The goals weren’t mutually exclusive, but to break into either competitive world, she was going to have to focus on the one she wanted the most. I’m sure my words initially hit her hard.

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” ~ Anonymous

She went after TV first. And because she placed her focus there, she found success and was cast in various specials. She began to make appearances around the country. She worked extra hard on competition entries, and won more than ever before.

And you know what? Now she is getting asked to teach more and more. It has taken a couple years. But it has happened. I don’t want any of you to get discouraged if things don’t happen over night. That just isn’t the way the world works for most of us.

“You CAN have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.”
Oprah Winfrey

If Oprah Winfrey feels that way, you know it has to be true. I’ve been good about planning and often give myself 5-10 years for my major goals. I’ve had great successes and hope to have more, but everything has come at the right time.

Are you chasing two goals at the same time? Are you giving half effort in two places and never quite getting what you want in life? Pick one. Just one. And let’s make that dream come true!

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