It all starts innocently enough. A woman walks in with the cutest baby ever. She tells you she’s ordering a cake for the baby’s first birthday. You start asking what she wants. And she tells you.
I used to think that wedding cakes were easier. These momzillas don’t even realize they have lost their mind. They obsess over inconsequential details on a cake the child WILL NEVER REMEMBER.
And that’s when you get it. Her mother probably picked the wedding cake that SHE never got to have, so this is the first time the mom gets to pick everything. Her first foray into adulthood in the cake world. So this party will be an all out production.
Momzillas will change the order a ridiculous number of times. They will bring in color swatches, samples of designs and their own personal sketches. She will burst into tears at the register if it does not meet the image in her head. My friend Pat Jacoby got a true Momzilla one day. The mother drew diagrams to scale. She had sketches of every element of the cake with precise inch by inch measurements for the entire diameter of the cake and what was to appear where.
Now is when I should tell you that all of that fuss was for the SMASH CAKE!! Holy crap!
I wish I knew what was really behind the insanity. I never got to have a child (medical complications), so I don’t know if pregnancy hormones still rule your life a year after you gave birth. I get that it is the “only first birthday party” the baby will have, but let’s be honest. That party is for the grown ups.
When I worked with the momzillas, I made a point of telling them they were the best moms ever and that their child was so lucky. And that always calmed them. Maybe they are just nervous new moms. Maybe they are afraid they aren’t doing a good enough job. Remember that there is likely a little insecurity under all that madness and you can help them relax and have a lovely party.
I wish I had an easy answer for how to deal with momzillas, but I honestly don’t. I can only tell you to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and to know that it happens to all of us!
When I started decorating cakes, I only knew the decorators in my local cake group. The Internet was relatively new and message boards were in their infancy. It was difficult to meet decorators from other areas unless you went to a cake show.
To build a reputation, you had to travel. You had to build a great web site. You had to compete in cake shows. You had to do great work. If you were lucky, you got on some of the early cake tv shows and the world learned your name. At least, the United States did.
I am just flying home from Cake International in Birmingham, England. It is the largest cake show in the world. It is a true melting pot of accents, cultures and decorating styles.
I was lucky enough to attend the Cake Masters Awards for the second year. As I listened to the presentations for the nominees and the winners, it became clear to me that there truly is a world cake decorating community.
Mike McCarey was named the Cake Hero. While he rarely teaches outside of the US, his social media accounts and Craftsy classes have taken him into the homes and hearts of decorators across the globe.
In almost every instance, the winners were people who have a strong social media presence. The value of that presence is that it helps to connect them to people everywhere. A picture can go viral in minutes. A Periscope can be shared repeatedly. The new applications keep making it easier and easier for people to interact with their cake heroes.
Many decorators tell me that they wish they had more recognition for their work. I would tell them that they simply MUST promote themselves. They aren’t just sharing with potential customers…they are connecting with future friends and collaborators.
We all need to take a world view of our work and our social media influence. I am constantly surprised at the number of people who follow my cake journey, my triathlon journey or even my posts about my puppies. It reminds me to be very conscious of the things that I post.
Too often, I see decorators posting negative comments about their customers or, even worse, their families. I wish so badly that I could help them realize that their constant negativity is how the world views them. Why on earth would you want that reputation?? I’m not saying you have to be fake and only post happy things; I am saying that social media is rarely the place to air your personal anger or laundry.
Social media just gives us the slightest glimpse into a person’s life. If you think of it as a snapshot of your life, what is the picture you want to give the world? Will you be known for your talent or for your attitude? The world is in your hands.