Monday, February 5, 2018

How To Make Isomalt Geodes With A Silicone Mold for Cupcake Toppers



Have you had customers asking for geode crystal cupcake toppers yet? I'd be surprised if you haven't, because I've been selling them like crazy for the last year or so. I recently decided to add the molds that I use to make them to my shop because I figured that people could probably use as well as the ready-made ones.



The mold set includes one piece that has three sections and one piece that makes two individual crystals.


You can use them by themselves or with each other to make larger crystals. Here's the video showing how to make the geodes:


Click here for the molds: Silicone Geode Crystal Mold,
and click here for precooked isomalt: Isomalt for the geode molds




Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Deciding When to Add New Items to Your Business

Have you ever thought about adding a new type of product to your business in order to diversify your income? Maybe you could do dessert cakes along with custom decorated cakes, or you could add some small desserts for buffets at weddings.

How do you know whether it's a good idea or not?

Sometimes the only way to do it is to do some research to see three things: What kind of demand is there for the product, how long does it take to make, and how much profit can you make on it?

The last question about profit is the most important, but if it's something that takes a really long time to make, or it's something that you would only be selling occasionally, it might not be worth making even if you'd be making a high profit. The reason being, if you have an order for something that's going to take you a large percentage of the time you have available, it might prevent you from taking on other work. So if one order for something is going to make you a $500 profit, but it prevents you from taking on two orders that had a total of $600 profit, you're losing out on $100. You have to look at the big picture.

Let's think about the little individual cakes that were (supposedly) popular a few years ago. As soon as you make those for one wedding you'll jack the price of them up to about 5 times higher than what you originally charged, because those take A LOT of time. And they take a lot of storage space, transportation space, setup time, etc etc. Most of the people I know who made them once refuse to make them again because the effort required isn't worth it.



I ran into this recently when I decided to look into adding hard plastic molds to my website. I ordered some plastic sheets and the setup to make them to try it out, and guess what? The results are unpredictable, the plastic sheets are expensive so the profit margins are small, and on top of that, they smell like toxic gas when they're heating up. It's definitely a "windows open" type of activity, and since you can't get a 100% guarantee that the mold will work perfectly, there's a lot of wasted material.



After weighing my options, I decided to go with a different type of flexible silicone instead of the plastic. I still have some sheets that I'll use up, then that will be it. I've put the molds that I've made on my website and will sell those at low prices just to clear them out, but I won't be adding more of them! I think my lungs will thank me, because they really do smell terrible!



So before adding a product, do a few test runs to see whether it's a good idea or not. Just because it's something that other people are selling doesn't mean that you should...They might not be making a profit at all, you never know. Test it out for yourself before adding things to your product line!

Click here for the molds


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Monday, January 22, 2018

Making Isomalt Brooches With Molds and Wafer Paper

I recently started a second Etsy shop for non-edible paper items (so that people won't buy real paper thinking that they can put it on a cake and eat it, which wouldn't be good.) I was working on some digital download clip art of some of the brooches that I have, which are the same ones that I use to make molds. 


I decided to try applying some wafer paper brooch images to the back of the molds they correspond to to see if plain isomalt plus the pictures would work to make a decent-looking edible brooch. It did work, with some shapes being better than others.


I printed out the brooch images, cut them out, then applied them to the back of the molds after filling them with clear isomalt. The picture showed through the isomalt, and the shape of the molded sugar gave the pictures some dimension. These would work well for a treasure chest cake or a jewelry box cake. Depending on the shape of the brooch, they could also work for a wedding cake, but that would have to be a mold that was easy to pour without overfilling it.



Here's a video showing how I did these brooches. The molds and corresponding images are available on my website here: Mold set to make edible brooches




Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, January 19, 2018

Don't Do The Work If You Haven't Been Paid



I've said it before but it's worth saying again, apparently. If someone hasn't paid you they're not a customer with an order. Don't do the work if you haven't been paid.





Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Monday, January 8, 2018

Want Flexible Wafer Paper? Use This Recipe!

This post contains affiliate links


There are a bunch of different sprays and liquids that you can use to make wafer paper flexible, but this is a simple version that you can make at home, and all it takes is a couple of ingredients.

I tried a few combinations or proportions before I ended up with the one that seems to work the best. It makes the wafer paper pliable but not too sticky.


That's wafer paper crumpled up inside my hand...

And here it is after I uncrumpled it. I wouldn't be able to do that with untreated wafer paper, it would be torn and ruined!


This is the formula I came up with:

1 pkg gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 Tbsp glycerine

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a microwavable bowl, and let it bloom for 15 minutes.

Put the bowl in a microwave and melt the gelatin, using 15-second bursts on high. Don't boil the gelatin, just melt it. You can remove the white foam off the top using a spoon or just leave it.

Mix the glycerine into the melted gelatin, and you're done!

Store in the fridge and reheat it to melt it when you need to use it. Brush a light coat onto wafer paper and let it dry before using it. You can also use this to stick wafer paper sheets together. Don't put too much on at one time or it can make the paper buckle.


I brushed this onto the paper, but you can try it in a spray bottle if you want to. Brushing it onto dark printed paper can smear the colors. Make sure that the spray bottle doesn't have any metal parts inside it, and you'll be able to put it in the microwave to heat up the gelatin when you need to use it.

If you do want to make the paper sticky, add more glycerine to the mix and it will dry and end up with a tacky surface that will stick to other pieces of paper.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mailing Lists-- How Not To Sign People Up



I think that mailing lists can be useful for every business, but there's a good way and a bad way to sign people up for them. Here's a video about what not to do.





Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cake Booking Rates and How Your Customers Find You.

                                     


When people talk about the booking rates for their cake businesses, everyone seems to think that a 100% booking rate is the goal. I don't think that's such a good thing, personally. If every single person who comes to a tasting appointment hires you, one of two things is going on. Either you're not charging enough, or you're doing such a tremendous job of screening people you're probably scaring people away at the same time.

You do want to do a good job of screening people. However, the goal of having everyone who comes to an appointment hire you isn't realistic unless you're the only baker in town, you have a "landmark" business where everyone local likes to go, or you're just famous and people will hire you so they can say they hired you.

Here are two videos on the subject, and I had charts to go with them!




The basic things to remember on this topic are these:

-- It's not realistic to expect everyone who comes to talk to you to hire you. If that's happening, you're probably not charging enough, or your screening is super thorough. That's not a bad thing, but it could also mean that you're scaring people away.

-- You WANT to screen people when they contact you to make sure they're a good fit for your business and your schedule. If you don't you'll be wasting a lot of time on your end and their end.

-- There are far more people "investigating" you than the ones who eventually end up contacting you for an appointment. To increase those numbers, you need to ask people how they found you so that you can see what's bringing in your business. If something isn't working, don't feel that you have to spend time on that anymore. If facebook brings you no business, maybe you shouldn't be wasting your time there.

-- The number that matters in a business is your profit, not the amount of business you book. If you sell 40 cakes all year, and you make $12,000 in profit, you're better off than the person who books 100 cakes and has $10,000 in profit.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How To Figure Out How Many Cakes To Do Next Year.

How busy do you want to be next year? This is the time to plan for it (unless you're in Australia, where the wedding seasons are opposite the ones here, but that's a different story.)

I wrote about the business patterns in cake decorating recently, and I think that it's important for everyone who has a cake business to try to plan out how much business they want to book each year. This accomplishes two things.

First, it gives you an idea about what your schedule is going to look like, and it sets some income goals to shoot for. Second, it gives you limits on how much you can do each week without getting burned out.

One way to do it is to figure out how many SERVINGS (not cakes) you can do each week. Once you hit that number, you're booked for the week and you don't take any more business. Simple as that.

Another way to do it is to decide how many wedding cakes per week or per month you want to do. If your limit is 4 a week, then don't book more than that.

I preferred to look at it by the month, because that gave me the flexibility to schedule more or fewer cakes per week based on the work involved.

Once you decide the method, you can chart out a schedule for yourself that you can use to track the business that you've booked and determine when you're booked up for each week or month.

Keep in mind that you can't just set your target and sit back to wait for customers to come your way. You need to get out and promote your business by various means, because the number of people who start off by searching for "wedding cakes" and finding your website is going to be a lot larger than the number who finally hire you.

Also remember that if everyone who contacts you also hires you, it might not mean that you're doing everything right. You might not be charging enough if you have a 100% booking rate, but that's what I'll be discussing in my next post.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, November 17, 2017

Can You Put Wafer Paper In The Fridge or Not?

A follow-up to last week's mermaid dots on a buttercream cake post...I took it out of the fridge and let it sit for a while until condensation formed on the icing and sunk into the wafer paper a little. I wanted to see what would happen, and it wasn't too bad since the pieces were small and separated. I think it would have been different if it was a full sheet, but the little pieces weren't so bad:



And to get the mermaid dots, click here: Wafer paper mermaid dots for cakes

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How To Follow Up After A Wedding Show

Last week I wrote about wedding show prep...This week it's about following up after the show.

The one thing that you need to keep in mind is timing. Most shows will send you a show list that includes all of the brides who signed up at the show. It's important that you contact them soon, but you don't want to pounce on them like you're desperate. I'd wait until a few days after the list goes out so that you can go through and prune it.

Before the show list gets to you, though, you should have sent out an email to everyone who signed up for your business email list at the show. (If you don't have an email list, read this: Email Lists)  Those are the people who were interested enough to tell you individually that they want you to contact them, so get to them quickly.

I'd send them an email the day after the show, saying that you were glad to meet them, and that if they would like more information they can go to your website. Offer a tasting appointment if you have some dates set up (you should set some dates up for a bunch of post-show appointments) and let them know when those are available. Sending them a follow-up quickly will beat the rush that they're going to get when every vendor from the show gets the full list.

When you get around to dealing with the show list, go through it and delete the people who are getting married on dates that you're not available. Delete the people who are already on your business list (you contacted them already). Delete people whose names and emails are obviously fake. Delete people who have the words "princess" or "diva" in their email addresses (that last one is optional, but I've always found it to be a good idea.)

Once you've pruned the list, send out a general email with a friendly greeting and a link to your website. Say a little bit about your business and what makes you unique. Invite them to sign up for your email list and give them a link to do so. Then hit send and don't worry about it again. Pestering people won't win you any prizes, and the people who are interested will sign up for your list.

Make sure to put something about why you're contacting them after the signature of your email. A simple "You're receiving this email because you signed up at the XYZ bridal show" is enough. 

Do NOT sign people up for your email list without their permission. If they didn't tell you to it's considered spamming, and that's not good.

Finally, follow up with any vendors you met who seemed like good connections. Send them a quick email saying hi and linking to your website. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them at the show, and that you'll be referring brides to them when you get a chance. Don't beg for referrals, just offer to send people to them.

If you have any other suggestions about wedding show follow-up, please post in the comments below!


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com