Sharon Wee is a cake designer and entrepreneur whose signature cake – the suspended milk jug
– has taken her all around the world. Here she tells us how she got started in cake decorating, why she loves teaching others and what she has planned for the future…
How did you first venture into the world of cake decorating?
I started by accident. I had just started a corporate job and felt a little unfulfilled, so I went in search of a hobby. I’ve always liked sweet stuff, so when I saw a cake decorating course at a local collage I thought ‘why not’? I knew I would have fun, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did!
When did you realise that
you could make your passion into a business?
When people other than my friends and family started telling me that my work was good enough to sell. My full-time job was not very exciting so I think that was what really pushed me into giving my passion a chance to really grow into something bigger.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to set up their own business?
Be clear what you are trying to achieve
with your business. I run a business course with Michelle Green who runs The Business of Baking Blog
(a great resource by the way), and the one thing we always stress to our students is to define your greater purpose for being in business and keep that in mind.
Everyone has different reasons for being in business. If you are clear about that,
every other decision that comes your way (Should I do catering? Should I open a
shop? Do I make wedding cakes?), will be so much easier. For example, if you want to have your own
cake business so that you can stay at home and spend more time with your kids, you would not then start looking at opening a café or start committing to travelling and teaching overseas.
You’ve created a wide range of cakes and designs – how would you best describe your cake decorating style?
Cute, fun and whimsy. I love pastel colours and am always driven by anything cute or that uses character.
Do you have a favourite character or design that you always use?
I just love teddy bears
. I think if you can only learn how to model one thing, it has to be teddy bears. They are so versatile and
can be used for any occasion. My teddies have been on wedding, christening, birthday cakes and more.
What are your top tips for working with cake stencils?
The consistency of the royal icing is very important. It should be stiff, like peanut butter.
What are your essential tools for cake decorating?
My silicone rolling pin, acetate, a good knife and a frilling tool.
You’re well known for your wedding cakes – what do you think makes a really good wedding cake design?
A couple of things. I think the cake needs to suit the venue (so for a tall venue, have a tall cake), and the cake should also reflect the couple in some way. I prefer to design to suit each individual client rather than just follow a standard picture because I feel it is so much more meaningful and special when they have a bit of themselves in the cake. This can be through figurines, meaningful flowers or patterns from the invite or dress.
What’s the most unusual cake design you’ve been asked to create for a client?
I can remember two that really stand out. One was a three-tier leopard print cake with bright pink bows in the middle of each tier for a wedding, and the other one was an oompa loompa cake!
And your favourite design?
My milk jug cake. Mainly because of the travelling and teaching opportunities that design has given me.
What do you like about teaching and passing on your skills?
Seeing students achieve something they thought was not possible when they first walked through the doors. It always makes my day when they tell me they learned a lot or that they never thought they would be able to make a cake like that.
Do you have any plans for the future that you’d like to share with us?
I am starting to gather ideas for a new book and I’m getting ready to start that crazy process again! I’m also looking at doing more product development too – hopefully it all goes to plan!
Visit www.sharonwee.com for more information on Sharon's cake and public appearances, or find out more about The Business of Baking blog.