Secret 3: The Creative Process

This is the third post of a six part series about some truths behind the first 6 years of my cake journey. We hope you enjoyed reading it, be sure to comment and let us know. If you want to start at the beginning please head to the introduction, Let Me Tell You a Secret.

This one is never easy. Some days I feel like Picasso and am so inspired to design and create, and everything comes out great…. While other days it feels like no matter what I do it comes out looking like crap. I just hate it all. I’ve been known to just lock myself away in the bathroom and sit there, looking at all the pretty pictures on Pinterest and wallowing in my own self-pity. Sometimes when it’s all too hard, I just go and have a nap or watch TV. For some reason, it makes me feel better.

I actually find production work easier. Because the designing part is done well before the cake is due. Typically, the design was all sorted out months in advance and when it came time to do the cake, I just had to follow the sketch. It always came out looking decent to good regardless of whether or not I felt like Picasso that day. For me, following instructions is easy… developing and designing is so much harder – I have to be in the right mood for it. Which is not easy when you have deadlines.

So when it comes to new designs for class it becomes less about the design and more about how many techniques and learning outcomes I can fit into one project but at the same time bearing in mind that it has to fit within a 1 day or 2 day time frame. Students and hosts are now wanting more than ever. So it’s now no longer enough to have a cake that looks awesome, it also has to spin, fly, make music and all be done in 1 day. I’m exaggerating but it’s not that far off.

The multiple requirements put in place make it that much harder. This means I always have to try things multiple times to come up with the quickest and most efficient way, eliminate things that take too long, or be prepared to prep a whole lot of things for the class. Every step of the way in creating a project, I have to stop to weigh, take notes, measure and draw templates – this ensures that students will get consistent results every time I run the class.

The voices in my head also go something like this –

“How is this going to work with 12 people doing it at the same time?”
“Will the students in any particular country struggle with this?”
“Is this tool/material available everywhere?”
“How am I going to do this in the easiest way so that everyone has the best results?”
“It’s taken me this long to do this, how long is it going to take everyone?”
“Logistically, how is this part going to work when 12 people all need to airbrush at the same time?”

And the very big question…

“Will this class even sell?”

That is a very big question… because the truth is, sometimes I spend weeks planning a project only to have that design not work out and I end up with everything in the bin. Other times, designs are listed as classes and for whatever reason they just don’t sell. Every new class project is a gamble for me. A gamble because despite all the time, money and effort that goes into it, sometimes it’s just a dud and so I don’t get any return on that particular design at all – I pretty much worked at a loss.

In my early years, I used to oblige when hosts from each country would ask me to design a class especially for them. Because they all wanted something different, special and new. The admin work behind all this nearly drove me insane – every class had its own set of materials, notes and workflow that I needed to organise. I had to put a stop to that – tomorrow my blog post will be talking about learning to say ‘no’ 🙂

Of course when a class is successful it can go on to sell out again and again… so overall you win some and you lose some. Hopefully you are winning more than you are losing 🙂

One of my best selling class - I got lucky with this one!
One of my best selling class – I got lucky with this one!

Continue reading the next part in the series, Secret 4: Learning to Say No

3 thoughts on “Secret 3: The Creative Process

  1. Hello Sharon
    When I “discovered” you and your creations, I felt more inspired and now that you are writing the myths and truths about your 6 years as cake decorator, i felt more connected with my new-found hobby bec it is a “hobby” for now. And hoping to be like you one day. Continue on what you are doing and thank you very much for sharing with us everything you knew.

    Love, Vee

  2. Fab reading this series, thank you so much for sharing- as a newbie cake company it is so good hearing your thoughts

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