Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How To Work With A Toddler Around.

I started my business when my daughter was a toddler and my son was 3, so I have experience working with toddlers and young children around. Having said that, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GET ANYTHING DONE, YOU PEOPLE WITH TODDLERS???

Lunchtime...Don't even pretend, just strip the shirt off and hose them down afterward.


Oh my, babies and toddlers are a lot of work. I remember when my son went to preschool and I suddenly only had one child to deal with for three hours a day. It was like a little vacation! Now that my kids are both old enough to vote, I've really lost the ability to get anything accomplished with a toddler around.

This has been proven to me because my cousin has been bringing her son (who's 18 months when I'm writing this) for me to babysit once a month or so. She goes up to Starbucks and does a bunch of writing or class prep with no baby to watch, and I watch the baby. It's fun for me because I'm at the age that I want to grab every baby I see, but my house isn't childproofed, and he takes a lot of monitoring because of that.

I started thinking about how I got anything done when my kids were toddlers and preschooelrs. Here are my suggestions, or what I can remember about what I did.

-- Have a dedicated corral area that can contain them when you need them to be contained. I drilled holes in the wall and attached baby gates to an entire section of my house so that I could create a huge playpen, for lack of a better term. As long as this one area is totally childproofed there's less of a chance that they'll stick a fork in an outlet when you're not looking.

-- Don't be afraid to let them watch tv or a movie. Age-appropriate videos or educational computer games can actually teach kids how to read. My son started with educational computer games when he was under 3, and he's a programmer now, so, yeah. The electronic babysitter works. I'm not saying to park them in front of the tv all day...Maybe reserve their favorite movie for the times that you need a solid hour of work time, and only let them watch it then. But seriously, don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it unless you're letting them play Grand Theft Auto.

-- Let them "help" you by staying out of the way but keeping busy. Tell little kids that they can have their own play dough to make flowers or decorations, but they can't use yours because it's for your work. Buy a set of Wilton cutters and let them decorate a dummy cake with play dough or extra fondant. Don't tell yourself that they won't understand this...My kids knew not to eat the fondant while they were "working" by the time they were 3. Make sure to give them a treat when they're done with their work. If you want to really go deep with this, you can make an extra 8" layer and let them decorate it with icing and whatever they want to use. But you have to totally stay out of it if you do this. They'll love it and you can get some work done while they mess around. My kids made some truly horrific cakes when they were little, but we'd take them to the grandparents' house and they loved them.

-- WORK LIKE CRAZY DURING NAPTIME. This is not the time to clean the house. This is not the time to lie around reading a magazine. This is the time to get some stuff DONE!!

-- Let them play in the kitchen cabinets. Make one cabinet the pan cabinet or the tupperware cabinet, and let them take that stuff in and out while you're working nearby.

-- Don't overschedule yourself. When your kids are little, don't take too many jobs. It will only result in burnout and frustration. Be realistic about what you can handle as one human being.

-- Take advantage of people who want to babysit. When I had to get my kitchen ready for my first inspection, I had my inlaws come over and watch the kids so that I could clean everything to within an inch of its life.

-- If all else fails, hire a babysitter. Even if you have a neighborhood kid come over and play with your kids a couple of hours a week, that will free up your time and you'll be able to get some work done.

-- Relax your standards. If you have young children, your house will not look like a magazine no matter how hard you try. Don't put that pressure on yourself. There's a difference between messy and dirty. Messy is fine, just keep it clean where it matters and don't worry about it too much. This too shall pass, and you will eventually have time to scrub the baseboards with a toothbrush again (if you're into that kind of thing.)

-- Use any and all "convenience" services that are available to you. Drive-throughs at banks and pharmacies are the bomb. The thing where you order your groceries online and just drive up to have them brought out to your car is the BEST THING EVER. I don't even have little kids anymore, and I use this. I've seen that CVS is going to start curbside pickup at a couple of stores in my area too, so it's a service that's spreading. USE IT. You won't regret it.


If you have any tips, or if you have young children and you can add any insights into being productive with kids around, please comment below!



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

Friday, September 15, 2017

How To use the Succulent Molds To Decorate a Wedding Cake


Here's a video showing the succulent molds that I used to decorate this cake. There are several different sizes, and they can be found here: Succulents and molds



These can also be used to make cupcake toppers and wedding mints. I've even had people buy them to make soap, but that wouldn't work on a cake 😐



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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How Much Should You Spend On Advertising?

I was going through my old paperwork when I was cleaning out my office and I found a list that I'd made comparing my advertising costs for 2006-2008. There was about a $400 range, but for the most part I was spending around $3000 a year for ads in local wedding guides, my website, and something that I had to look up to be sure what it was. It turned out to be an early online wedding planning site for local brides, but it no longer exists.

I did a few quick searches to see if there was any type of guideline about how much you should be spending on advertising, and I found a range from 4-10% of your gross income depending on what industry you're in. I do know that I never spent that much, but I'd have to go dig out my old tax forms to see the exact percentage.

I do notice, as I look at the changes I made each year, that I dropped one media outlet each year and added a different one. The most important thing that you can do is to keep track of the return on your investment in each place that you put your money into. You have to make sure that what you're paying for is working.

When the Knot started their local website for my area years ago, they sold me an ad at a really low rate since it was a new region for them. When the time came to renew I had decided not to, because I wasn't getting enough traffic from them to make it worthwhile. I knew this because I was monitoring my own traffic using my website analytics.

When I told them that I wasn't going to renew, they emailed saying that they were sending me huge amounts of traffic, and I should renew immediately! I wrote back asking where they were seeing that, since I didn't see it on my end. For some reason, they didn't email back.

With all of the advertising options out there now, you're going to get a lot of solicitations from various marketers trying to get you to spend your money with them. The important thing is to make sure that what you spend increases your profit by more than the spend. If you spend $5000 to make an extra $8000, but your expenses to make the cakes are $4000, You just lost $1000. Here's a sophisticated drawing:


Let's say that you spend $1000 to go to a wedding show. You need to take the cost of attending into account, which is the $1000 plus the cost of your samples, displays, TIME involved, etc. etc. etc. 

So say it was about $1600 total, and about 50% of your gross income is profit. That means that you'll have to book $3200 worth of business as a direct result of that show to break even. You might be able to do that, you might not. 

The best-case scenario, of course, is to pay the least you can to advertise and get a really good return on investment. If an Instagram ad targeted at local brides costs you $200 and brings in $8000 that's really good. If it only brings in $200, that's wasted effort.

So aim for the lowest amount that you can get away with spending, but make sure to track your results. Ask everyone who books with you "how did you find me?" Look at your google analytics to see where your website traffic is coming from. If you pay for an ad, monitor it closely to verify the results. Don't just throw your money at an ad and assume that it's doing its job, you can waste a lot of money that way.


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

Friday, September 1, 2017

How To Use A Branch Mold for Cakes

Have you ever looked at photos of the cakes with branches and flowers on them and thought "Uh...That doesn't look like a branch."

If you have, here's a video for you showing why you should get a mold to make branches rather than just rolling out a brown snake of fondant for the branches.


Click here for the mold: Branch molds

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

5 Tools Everyone In The Cake Business Should Have

This post contains affiliate links

There are plenty of things that you should have if you're going to do cakes as a business. None of them are mandatory, honestly, but some make your life a lot easier. Here are my top 5 choices for tools that you want to have:

1. An Agbay cake leveler. Not a Wilton leveler or any other brand...But if you can't afford that right now, get one of these. The Agbay is better because it's totally adjustable, But the stainless rings will do in a pinch.

2. A good stand mixer with at least a 5qt bowl. A 6 quart bowl is better because you can do a triple batch of IMBC in a 6-qt bowl with no problems.

3. A good bench scraper. There are many types that you can buy, but I'll give a shout-out to Kristin at Fat Girl Cakes on this. She makes large bench scrapers that can smooth a double-barrel cake with no lap marks in the middle.

4. This set of clay tools. They're really all you'll need, I use mine CONSTANTLY.











5. Decent silicone spatulas. Because if you've used a bad spatula, you know what I'm talking about. I like the Orka ones because they're one-piece with no floppy handles, easy to clean, and heat-resistant.

What would you say is an essential tool? Add your comments below.


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