I think it’s time something was addressed that far too many people complain about, and maybe too many cake designers or bakeries don't feel like they can say this because it may ruffle their clients feathers, but I’ve spoke about this many times to many people and in the end, they always agreed with my perspective.
On a regular basis I have clients coming to me for price quotes on occasion cakes (birthdays, showers, graduations, etc.) and wedding cakes. I would venture to say I book about 90% of my wedding clients after they receive a quote, whereas I book about 50% of my occasion cake clients after they receive a quote. I book drastically less occasion cakes than weddings, and most of the time it’s because the price point was not what they were expecting it to be.
Now, first off, let me say I am not here to poke fun at or criticize those who can’t or don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on their child’s birthday cake. In my opinion, before I got into this career, I wouldn’t have either. Before my grandmother bought me my first Kitchenaid mixer, my kids were guaranteed a cake from a grocery store bakery. Not once did I message a custom cake bakery to even check on the price of a cake because I knew it was more than what I was able to pay. Eventually I did want to give my kids something a little more special cake-wise for their birthdays, so I taught myself how to bake. Slowly but surely, I was teaching myself new things. Many of you who have known me from the start know I started making cupcakes…from a box mix…and a tub of Pillsbury icing. Y’all…when I stay I started from the bottom I mean the BOTTOM bottom. I didn’t grow up learning from watching my mom bake, I grew up watching my mom burn cookies that came out of a plastic tube (and I still do to this day).
Anyway, getting back to my point, I didn’t except something for nothing. I knew if I wanted my kids to have custom cakes, I would need to either accrue a lot of money, or I would have to do it myself. Unfortunately, I’ve learned since getting into the cake biz that not nearly enough people share this mindset, and they think home bakers and small mom and pop bakeries should MOST CERTAINLY be able to compete with Walmart, Publix, Food Lion, etc. Let me tell you something right now, if I sold my cakes for the price that grocery stores bakeries do, I wouldn’t be doing this as a career, I would be doing this as a hobby, because I wouldn’t make ANY money to support my family. This alone is a separate post in itself, but it’s a good preface to what I’m trying to get at here.
Now, I’m about to say something that shouldn’t, but might actually blow some peoples minds…I use the same flour, butter, sugar, leavening agents, eggs, milk, etc. to make birthday cakes for your kids birthday party as I do for my big beautiful wedding cakes. Furthermore, I shop for my ingredients for both kinds of cakes at the same grocery store, and I charge the same amount of taxes on both kinds of cakes. Now below, I’m going to show you a three tier birthday cake (that a client of mine happily and willingly paid for) and a picture of the same size cake, with the same amount of servings, but it’s a wedding cake…
So a lot of people think because one is a wedding cake and one is a birthday cake, that the wedding cake cost more and the birthday cake costs less. This is not the case. This wedding cake is all white buttercream, which means I didn’t have to color it. It’s literally white icing on a cake that has some textures to it and some silver edible beads. The topper was provided by the bride and groom. Now lets look at the birthday cake. It’s also buttercream, just colored, it has hand painted grass to give the murky swamp look, it has fondant detailing, handmade grass blades, and multiple handmade fondant figures (and we won’t even get into how long/what it takes to make those). The birthday cake was WAY more expensive than the wedding cake. It took more time and more products than the wedding cake. YET, I have potential clients message me wanting something in the ballpark of the birthday cake above, and when they’re quoted a price they lose their mind, they tell me I’m too expensive, they tell me they can get it at the grocery store for cheaper, they tell me “That’s as much as my wedding cake cost!”…well….that is because you ordered your child a wedding cake, it’s just princess themed, covered in glitter, and has a handmade gumpaste crown on top.
I also get this this response a lot: “My friends grandma said they can make it for X amount of money less than what you charge". Well, that's great for your friends grandma, and great for you! (seriously). But your friends grandma probably isn’t running a legal, tax paying, registered cake business. She doesn't have to pay taxes to the state, county, and credit card processors, she’s probably not had to put in the work it takes to have your home kitchen licensed by the state of NC or pay fee’s to the county to become a legal business owner. She probably doesn't have a business bank account that she pays monthly fees to have or an accountant to help her figure out taxes. The reason that your friends grandma is cheaper than a professional cake bakery is because she doesn't have to cover the costs of doing business.
If you message me requesting a quote and it’s more than you expected, that's fine, but please, saying I (or any other small bakery) charge too much is an insult, because you basically just told me that you don’t value my time and talent. I work for hours on a single cake, and, to my knowledge, I’ve never had one collapse, fall apart, lean, taste unpleasant, or any other typical cake complaints. Nothing ever leaves my kitchen if I am unhappy with it or if I don't think it will meet my clients expectations. Not once in SEVEN years, y’all.
To wrap this up here, whether you’re ordering from me or another local bakery, please stop expecting too much for too little, and stop making us feel like our time, skills, and knowledge is invaluable.