Cake Business: How to Design a Cake for a Client

This can be an anxiety-inducing and a lengthy unpaid process if you are new to selling cakes for profit. So we asked ACD business columnist Chrissie Boon from Icing Inspirations to share her design process:

  1. Gather the needed information: Find out the number of servings and any input they have on design ideas. Is there a theme to the special event? Is there decor—flowers, invitations, colors—that is being used? Is it a special birthday and the birthday boy has some unique or favorite interests?
  2. Search for inspiration photos and pieces: If the client has provided you with some inspiration photos, that is a great place to start. If they’ve left you with just a theme, now your hunt is on for non-cake images that support their theme. Search home decor images, invitations, fashion, or other art forms—paintings, polymer-clay art, glasswork, etc.
  3. Work out a BASIC idea plan: If you need a visual, you can start planning out a quick sketch for yourself. Nothing crazy; do not spend hours and hours on it, just make a quick blueprint to lay out your ideas. From here, start thinking about how long these details will take to create. I like to think of a main idea and from there plan how I could create it a bit simpler and a way I can create it a bit more elaborate.
  4. Provide a quote: Lay out your idea to your client. As I mentioned before, I like to have a few variations of my plan. I often offer my quote at three different price points, starting with the midrange pricing and tell them how they can simplify or how they can make it more elaborate. I find this saves the question of “can you do it cheaper?” It keeps the ball in my court and shows them that I won’t lower my price on a specific cake design, but that I can offer them something at a lower budget if needed.

When providing your quote, think about how much further research and time you’ll need to put into the final design of the cake. If you need to go out into the field and take photos of something specific—i.e., a cake designed after a specific house or monument—make sure to factor this time into your costs when you quote.

If the cake is booked, elaborate for yourself on your plan: If the client books you, now is the chance to spend more time elaborating on a sketch for yourself. I find getting my ideas fully sketched out and planned while the order and any design conversations are still fresh in my head is best. Then, when it comes time to create the order, you have all the details and can go straight to the fun part of creating the cake.

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