I’m having a fabulous time interviewing some amazing cake makers – not only am I getting the chance to introduce myself to some wonderful people with a lot of knowledge to share, I’m also learning something along the way. We all like to know how everyone else does things, don’t we? For my part it’s less about how they do it, and more about what their experience can teach me as a business owner. I’ve learned a lot (and enjoyed the sneak peak into their lives) by doing this interview series. A big THANKS to those who have participated thus far and to those of you who continue to read this series.
Today’s interviewee is Faye Cahill. Thanks Faye for taking the time to be interviewed, especially as you head into the wedding season which I know must be incredibly crazy for you.
Faye probably needs no introduction, as her elegant, clean style is well known on an international level. Her business Faye Cahill Cake Design has become one of Sydney’s premier wedding cake companies (although she has been known to do cakes for kids as well.) Her signature style of clean lines, using metallic accents and beautiful large feature flowers are truly stunning and well worth a look if you haven’t done so already. I heard about Faye several years ago as she has been in this business quite a while and has developed quite a following. Some years ago I also did a class at her original studio and I found myself wondering how she managed such incredible creations in such a small space! She’s since moved to bigger premises and continues to grow her business while she grows her family as well – something many of us can relate to!
Wow- that’s a long story… I’ve been doing cakes forever!
Sharing has been a difficult issue for me to get my head around! I don’t think there is any problem at all with finding a point of difference from your competition and looking to stand out from the crowd. My position of keeping a few things to myself has less to do with thinking I’m a genius and more to do with looking out for things that might negatively impact my business and brand. When the whole explosion of classes happened, there was a lot of talk about market saturation and competitive undercutting. I don’t have anything other than cakes to fall back on and I need to look after my staff and pay the bills.
Having said that, my business has grown through that whole period and although secondary to cake production, I’ve always offered a range of decorating classes to share much of what we practice. With the onset of online learning, I’m keen to put my own name on techniques that I’ve pioneered or made popular and to promote my work in a worldwide market. I REALLY enjoyed making the first tutorial and have no shortage of ideas for more. The challenge is always in finding the time to do them!
Nothing is more important than finding and supporting a network in your industry. For me it’s weddings, but it may be kids party vendors, corporate or whatever. Sometimes cakes can come at the end of the planning process, so we may not be able to refer on as much work as for example a venue would be able to give to us, but I still see a lot of clients who might still be looking for a florist, decorator, invitation or favours. Even when you can’t refer, you can always support like-minded businesses by commenting on their posts, sharing their work and giving advice and encouragement.
5) If you could start your business TODAY, what – if anything – would you do differently?
Oh, that’s hard! I would not want to go through all the hard work of starting from scratch again! Although I’ve made tons of mistakes, I’ve also had lots of luck and I can’t think of too many really major things. I’ve always done too much myself instead of getting help and I would definitely only want to go through one premises set up, not two. Maybe I’d stay at home longer and use the money I saved to get more help and work less hours.
6) Tell us either your greatest cake triumph OR your greatest cake disaster and how you handled either of those. 🙂
Oh my gosh, so many cakes, it’s all a blur really. There have been plenty of triumphs and plenty of near misses. I can’t say I’ve had complete disasters because I’ve always been able to deliver the cake but some things have gone wrong that have felt pretty disastrous at the time. I think my biggest success has been introducing the use of edible silver and gold leaf as a cake finish, and seeing the influence of my work on other decorators. I feel like I’ve had a great track record from even my early days at Sweet Art of designing cakes that become “hits”. I’ve never minded re-creating the same design once it becomes popular but I also feel that the only way to stay on top and to still feel engaged and inspired by what I do is to try to continue to innovate, push boundaries and keep up with trends.