Marsha is a blog reader of mine who casually mentioned that she had a book coming out – a big achievement for any cake decorator but especially one who’s only started up in the last few years. I’ve since had the chance to chat to Marsha via Skype and she’s one of the loveliest, most down to earth people you could hope to meet. I hope you all get inspired by reading her story – make sure you read to the end. I love what her goals are and what she says about getting there – keep up the awesome Marsha!
Tell us a little bit about the person behind the business: What city are you in? How old are you? Any special hobbies or interests other than cake?
I have lived in South London, UK all my life. I am 30 years old (and proud of it!) although I still feel like a baby when it comes to learning life’s lessons. Aside from thinking about cake on a minute to minute basis, my other interests include watching endless amounts of sitcoms and dramas (Frasier or House of Cards anyone?), eating copious bags of crisps and chilling out with my mates whenever I get the chance. I also do a lot of knitting and crocheting. I think my main hobby in life is making things, so give me some raw materials and a method and I could be content for years!
What’s the back story to your business? How did you get into this industry? How do we find your business online?
I actually got into the industry after deciding I needed a huge career change. I have a BSc (Hons.) in Psychology, and decided early on that I wanted to work with children and young people. This led me to a few roles within the Youth Offending Service in various South London boroughs, working with children at risk of offending, young offenders, their families. However, toward the end of my career there was a serious incident at work; a young person I worked with was murdered. I took a lot of time off work because of this, deciding that I needed to change my career entirely. I started to look at my skills and expertise in other areas, as I knew I was too sensitive to continue this role for much longer. After some searching, I decided to become a Wedding Planner, and completed a Diploma in Events Management. Not satisfied with this, a friend and I took a basic Baking and Cake Decorating course after work, and after realising that it was not only a creative outlet for me but also a viable business, I quit my full time job to run my business.
I currently bake and decorate celebration and novelty cakes for all types of special events. My main focus is sugar modelling and I love to make characters from sugar paste, as well as carving cakes and decorating shapes. I also make cupcakes and iced cookies, and more recently ganache and buttercream covered cakes. When I look at my first cake I cringe a bit, because I can see all my mistakes! But it also shows me how far I have come in my decorating expertise, and that makes me feel like I have accomplished something special.
I joke with my friends that I am probably the most easiest person to find on the planet. The business has its own website (cakings.co.uk) which includes a blog and a mailing list, as well as the following social networking accounts:
Just for fun, how and where do you read the blog? (in your pyjamas on a laptop? On your phone on your way to work? while sitting in the drive-thru?)
I read the blog where-ever I am when I receive the email! So on a train, in my PJs in bed, or in the kitchen when I’m wrist deep in cake mix. I also re-read blog posts, such as the one about dealing with complaints, or the one about my Final Cake Design. It helps to keep me on the right path.
Where are you hoping to get to with your business? What’s the big fat dream goal? If you’ve already achieved it, have you set some new goals?
Since starting my business, I have always wanted my own professional kitchen. I currently run my business from home, and would love to have a space that is separate from my home-life. I am about to start interviewing for my very first employee, and I’m bricking it!- but I know that to move my business forward I need help in the kitchen so I can get on with more of the business side of things. My dream would be to have a large kitchen to fulfil a whole host of orders, including mass produced items as well as bespoke designs. My other dream is to own my very own restaurant chain, but this is currently on the back burner while I solidify my current business.
If I could give you the gift of an hour of time with any 3 people – cake decorators, business mentors, other business owners (anyone at all really) who you would love to get some mentoring from, who would those people be – and what would you ask them?
Gosh, I would love to spend an hour picking Jay Zs brain. I know he isn’t a cakey person, but I admire his business acumen and drive, and he inspires me. I’d speak to him about being an entrepreneur, and what I should be doing to achieve all my goals. My second person would be you Michelle, for exactly the same reasons. My third person probably would be Richard Branson. After reading his book “Losing My Virginity” I saw how hard he worked and what he sacrificed to get to where he is today, and that is someone I could definitely learn from!
I’m very excited to have a copy of your new book – and writing a book is something a lot of people aspire to! Would you mind sharing with us a little bit about that process and what it was like for you?
Writing Surprise Cakes was a crazy and unexpected opportunity for me, and I am still overwhelmed that I was approached to do it at all! A friend of mine had written a book with the same publishers, and when they were looking for someone to work on a new project, she put my name forward!
The book is all about finding surprises inside cakes, a current trend, and I have included recipes I use every day within my business, as well as my hard learned techniques for baking and decorating cakes. I also use these techniques to produce cakes for my clients, friends and family.
The entire process of writing the book was quite fast-paced, but the publishers were super helpful, the photographer was very experienced and the editor was my superhero! All in all it was amazing, and I’m looking forward to writing more books in the future.
What’s next for you and your business? Where can we expect to see Marsha next?
I believe thoroughly in speaking things into existence. With this in mind, I shall be at Cake International, London at the end of March (my first competition with them!) as well as in the Ideal Home Show Cake Decorator of the Year Competition. Later on in the year, I hope to be presenting my skills at various exhibitions and hope to make more public appearances as the year goes on. In the long term, I would love to write more books, I would like to have a professional kitchen so that I can hire more staff, and I would like to build my business to be something spectacular.
To purchase Marsha’s book or have a closer look at it (which is full of fun projects, I’ve done a few of them!): Surprise Cakes.