Agnes said that discovering cake decorating was a real turning point in her life
After about a year of making cakes for her family and friends, Agnes quit her job and became a full-time cake decorator.
When did you first start decorating cakes?
I always had artistic interests and I loved baking, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I have discovered cake decorating. After watching one of the Cake Boss episodes I felt inspired to make my first cake. I had so much fun making it! And it was a pleasant getaway from the unfulfilling corporate job that I had back then. The news about me making cakes spread around my family and friends instantly. It didn’t take me long to realise that decorating cakes is what I want to do in life. I quit my office job and became a full time cake decorator.
Where did you learn your cake decorating skills?
First of all, I think it all starts way before we actually think it starts... As a child I remember playing a lot with plasticine. I loved making cute little characters! So I think my manual skills began to develop back then.
Secondly – online tutorials and cake decorating websites. They are such a huge help in the beginning and they still are whenever I want to learn something new.
Thirdly – professional experience in commercial kitchens. For the last 3 years I have worked in 3 different cake shops. Each place taught me something new. The last two years I value the most – I worked side by side with one of the best cake decorators in London. Being able to watch and learn from someone with such great knowledge was a priceless experience.
So, for the past few years you focused on getting experience and learning?
Yes. Most people know me from making cute topper tutorials for my website CrumbAvenue.com, but on a day to day basis I have been working as a cake decorator in one of London’s cake shops. I didn’t spend as much time on developing Crumb Avenue as I wanted, but the priority was to get experience. Now I have much more time, so I can focus on developing the site more.
How would you sum up your style?
Cute and clean I guess. At least these are the words I usually hear when others talk about my work.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mainly from cute illustrations. There are so many of them on Pinterest. Sometimes I spend hours browsing through all those pretty images!
What are your top three cake decorating essentials?
It’s so hard to choose just three! A sturdy turntable (I recommend the ones with heavy, iron base), a long, metal, non-bendable scraper with square corners and large smoothers with a 2 rounded and 2 squared edges.
Which part of your job do you like the most?
I like so many things about my job! Each day is different because each order is different. There’s a large variety of daily tasks, so it’s impossible to get bored. There’s always something new to learn. If I were to choose the things that I enjoy doing the most it would be cute cakes for kids and tutorials.
What are the things you would do differently if you were to start the whole cake decorating journey again?
I wouldn’t stress that much! But I guess that more relaxed approach comes with experience. Of course I still get stressed when things go really wrong, but I’m aware that there are many ways of dealing with popping out problems. I try to focus on the solution rather than the problem itself.
What are your top tips for a beginner?
- Start with whatever you have at home. You don’t have to spend a fortune in the beginning. Try to be reasonable – buy the things you really need at that particular moment.
- Learn from mistakes and don’t give up. If something goes wrong treat it as a valuable lesson not a failure. Think what you can improve next time and just move on.
- Learn to bake. This might sound silly, because it’s obvious that someone who makes cakes should know how to bake. But believe me – there are so many people out there making cakes, who don’t know the basics. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the cake is – if it’s not tasty, the customer won’t place an order in the same place again. A book which helped me a lot in the beginning was “The Cake Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It contains a lot of useful information which helped me understand baking more.
- Do internships or work for cake shops. It’s a great way to improve your skills quickly. Not only you learn how to decorate cakes from people with experience, but you also learn how to run a business. I recommend to work in as many places as you can – you’ll gain confidence as a cake decorator and you’ll be clear about which business model to choose.
- Take classes or online courses. Why waste time trying to work something out yourself if somebody has already found a solution? If you can’t afford private classes, choose group courses or the much cheaper online learning. Check the reviews first to make sure you spend your money well.
- Don’t undercharge. Before you decide on the prices, sum up all your costs. Check the quality and prices of other cake shops in your area. A lot of cake decorators, especially in the beginning, undercharge, because they are afraid of losing customers. Aim for high quality and the customers will find you themselves.
What are you plans for the future?
I have some plans for the upcoming years but I’d prefer not to reveal them just yet. For sure there will be more tutorials and more cute creations!
Visit Agnes' website for more tutorials here