Inspiration is everywhere…
Here is the situation. I receive an email enquiry for a cake at one of my favourite London wedding venues for a wedding that sounds super fun, and the style of the wedding sounds exciting. I read through the filled out email form to see yet more exciting details about the number of guests and realise I am available for their wedding date too. Getting excited! I scroll down and get to an image they have attached to the email. It’s of a cake screen shot from pinterest. So, what’s the problem?
Pinterest Cake Fails
It seems like a perfectly normal practice, doesn’t it? A potential client has seen a cake they love on pinterest and they’d like you to replicate it for them. Thinking about it though, there are certain big companies that could well slap a lawsuit on you if their products were replicated by another designer or manufacturer. There is this thing called intellectual property.
It’s a thing that, for some reason doesn’t seem to apply to smaller design businesses like cake makers, stationers and product designers and makers. Is it because we simply don’t have the money to all be suing each other left right and centre?
A winter-thermed original Malarkey Cakes design
Finding my Niche
When I started making cakes, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was always inspired by the ‘big guns’ of the cake industry and aspired to be just like them. But there was always something in me that wanted to do things differently and blaze my own trail. Yes, I have tried and tested different methods of making cakes, bought every cutter and mold for sugar crafting under the sun. But I believe that a bespoke cake is something that should be designed.
I have worked hard over the last 5 years to improve my cake making skills. Like so many others, I started as a bit of a hobby baker and realised that this was my creative calling. My background is in design so I saw this as ‘finally finding the medium I really wanted to work with’.
A Malarkey Cakes original design- The white origami wedding cake
Bespoke Cake Design
So, the fact that replicating cakes is a perfectly normal practice, is a bit of a problem to me. My cake design process includes exactly that; designing. All the bespoke cakes I make are designed by me. I take time and pride over the sketches I create for my customers and tweak them until my client is completely happy with them. The fact that another cake maker can come along and charge a customer for a cake where they have completely cut out the design process and gone straight to making doesn’t sit well with me.
It took me a long time to find my niche, my modern wedding cake style. I experimented with loads of different looks, ingredients, styles, equipment and it wasn’t until my first geometric wafer paper wedding cake was a big hit until I realised I was on to something. Before that I had spent hours experimenting, with some wins, some fails, to get my style down.
Never stop Learning
I’m still learning and I think that is exactly the point for me. Learning to find my own way and my style is constantly evolving. When a cake maker recently contacted me and asked me to tell her exactly how I made one of my geometric wafer paper wedding cakes, the email took me ages to respond to. I didn’t know what to say. I just knew that I was angry with the way the industry works.
Cake Industry Culture
I am also a member of a number of ‘Cake Communities’ on Facebook. They are encouraging and supportive places on the whole and it’s nice to see that cake makers, amateur and professional in a female dominated industry can come together in such a positive way. But for me there is still a problem. Cake makers constantly copy other people’s cakes and even ask each other for each other’s photos of cakes to copy. With this being the status quo, it’s so hard to create a profitable cake business.
Me, behind the scenes with one of my original creations
I am inspired
Please don’t get me wrong! I am not on my high horse about this! I love being inspired by other people’s cakes. There are so many amazing cake artists and designers out there whose work is incredibly inspiring. I am happy to be sent an image of cake on pinterest. I will take inspiration from it. And the first thing I will point out to my potential client is “I don’t know how that cake maker created it, what tools or methods they used, so I can never guarantee that it will look exactly the same”. Followed by the suggestion of “ I will happily be inspired by some of the aspects of the cake and take the idea, change it up and make it unique for you”.
But that’s just it. The cake industry is full to bursting point. But there is room for everyone. Instead of blending in with all the others, I believe in trying to stand out, find your niche and do something I believe in. It’s also more fulfilling and fun when making a cake at all the crazy hours too.
Also, why would you want a cake that’s exactly the same as the one your cousin had last month, when you could have a unique cake that’s designed just for you?
Please get in touch with your opinion on this. I’d love to hear from you!