The Cake Lady
Here’s the thing. There’s a lot of people who, from a young age, know exactly what career path they want to take when they’re older.
That’s not me. Far from it, actually.
When I was little I wanted to be a vet – but isn’t that what most girls aspire to be at some point in their young lives? Aside from that, I got nothin. Through high school, my senior project portfolio entailed aspects of journalism and things along those lines…and it was something I enjoyed. That didn’t last too long. Fast forward to my freshman year of college; not only did I change my major at least five times, but I switched schools as well. After declaring an education major during my sophomore year and realizing it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I settled for a business administration major. Cool.
Then in 2012, I started to bake. I used to bake with my grandma when I was little, but never once considered it as a possible career path. As things progressed from simple cupcakes to four tiered wedding cakes, it had never been more clear that this is what I wanted to do. I loved the creative outlet it provided, I loved the feeling of giving …and I loved sitting on the couch every Sunday eating all of the leftover cake scraps from orders over the weekend.
After graduating college, I realized rather quickly that the money I was making from cakes wouldn’t be able to cover my hefty student loan payments; so off to corporate America I went. Me being the person that I am, only lasted a few months at my first office job due to my relentless (sometimes naïve) mindset of opening my own bakery. I repeated this several times, with several office jobs. It was a constant struggle between needing to pay my bills and doing what I truly loved – pretty standard for us dream chasers, I think.
In the time that I’ve taken over the last few months to enjoy the end of my pregnancy and beginning of my little family, I’ve had the opportunity to look back. Here’s what I’ve found:
I bit off way more than I could chew, took on way more than I could handle and I tried to do everything wanting to please everyone. In essence, I messed up and handled things pretty miserably. The struggle between wanting to bake full-time, but also wanting a Monday thru Friday desk job for financial security…would lead me to work a 40+ hour week (sometimes between multiple jobs) and a 20+ hour baking weekend. Simply put, I burnt not only myself, but my husband out over the course of these last four years trying to do it all and please everyone.
I struggled with valuing and pricing not only my product, but my time. It had gotten to the point where I was essentially paying my customers to take these cakes. With so many other amazing, talented bakers within this area…I struggled with comparison. When clients would inquire, I would give a Giant Eagle price because I knew there were other bakers out there that could do it better than me. It’s a character flaw – that feeling of constant defeat because you know there’s someone right around the corner that could do it better. Take this as you want, I’m just being upfront & honest. My point: I undervalued myself, was losing way more money than I was making and it took its toll.
Over the last several weeks in adjusting to parenthood, I’ve found myself lost. When I started baking, I’d like to think I started to make a name for myself. I was the ‘cake lady‘. And you know what? I loved that. It gave me such a sense of purpose. I’ve found myself looking back at past cake orders and truly missing being able to not only create, but to put such sweet happiness (see what I did there) into people lives – or bellies, rather. If I’m not the ‘cake lady’, then who even am I?
To think, I had so much support from the community. I remember the very first real cake I did…I was so, so proud! And that client? She was amazing. She helped get my name out into the area and I’ll always be forever grateful for her. I feel like I let her down…along with everyone else who had given and showed so much support. Around the time that I had decided to take a break from baking to enjoy the remainder of my pregnancy, there were calls left unanswered…messages that went unopened. I was afraid. I have left and come back so many times, I was afraid that if I came back I wouldn’t have that same support. I wanted to bake SO badly, but I was so tired…and so burnt out. Not only me, but James too. And without his help I wouldn’t be able to make the cakes that I do.
Here I am. A wife, a mom…haven’t baked in several months. I got to thinking…
I have this beautiful little girl that I’m supposed to raise. I’m freaking out a little because how am I supposed to teach her to follow her dreams when I’m not. I love doing so many things; blogging, crafting and other cool mom stuff that it feels like I’m kind of all over the place. But baking always seems to come to the top of the list. Lead by example though, right? As any parent does, I want her to be proud to call me mom. You know what I really want? I want one of Penelope’s friends to ask her if her mom is the cake lady…and I want her to be able to smile and say yes.
What fun is life if you aren’t taking risks and doing what makes you happy? Despite my fears of lack of support and not being good enough, I need to get over it. I’m going to be slowly work my way back into the kitchen. I would much rather give it a try and give it my heart than live in fear of the ‘what ifs’. I understand that there will be clients who have moved on to bigger, better bakers due to my past negligence but there will also [hopefully] be some clients from the very beginning that’ll still be there. Should I consider you my cake or dies?? Does that sound uncool?
Anyhow, I’d like to start over. New name, new work ethic but the same heart and slowly mold myself into the best baker I can be – not only for my clients, but for my family and myself. So if you’d be as so kind as to allow me to introduce myself…
My name is Angie, and I’d love to be your cake lady.