Hello Cake World!
I am pleased to bring you another edition of Baker's Dozen. This time with cake designer extraordinaire Chrissie Boon of Icing Inspirations. Chrissie is not only a designer but also a savvy business woman. Chrissie and I talked about what drove her to opening a retail outlet as well as the importance of having a work-life balance!
Morsels By Mark: What inspired you to build a career in the cake world?
Chrissie Boon: My cake/baking career started with cookies. My mom made Christmas cookies every year and sold them at local schools and businesses. When I was in grade 9 I took over and the baking just bloomed from there. I took a cake decorating class during first year university and shortly after left my studies to pursue cake full time.
MBM: How did you make the decision to start Icing Inspirations - your online store?
CB: To be honest, it started from two things. First, the desire to be spending more time with my family. Taking 10 cakes a weekend was getting to be too much and I was never home. I wanted to be able to do something that would supplement the cake income and give me more time with the kiddies.
Secondly, a need for product in this area. I was tired of having to make the trip into Mississauga or Toronto all the time even if I'd forgotten the littlest thing it meant packing the kids up and fighting traffic. By the time all was said and done it was always a full day between getting there, shopping, usually stopping for food (cause we'd have been gone so long.. adding to the cost of my supplies) and getting back.
MBM: How do you choose which products to carry?
CB: We really look for product that is unique. There is a lot of great cake supply shops out there and we want there to be a reason for people to still shop everywhere. We carry the basics of course, but finding something different leaves a market for everyone. And of course finding product that we would use ourselves at the shop.
MBM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
CB: Where don't I draw my inspiration from? Lol . We'll be sitting at a dinner and I'll look at my husband's food like it could be a cake. Or when it comes to my kid's birthday cakes, I'll be looking at their toys and thinking about which is their favourite that I could make into a cake.
For weddings it's a little different. I talk to brides about their hall, their flowers, their dress... every little detail and find what makes their wedding different. Then draw from that. Or we'll come up with a cake based on their interests. I always tell couples that they should feel free to do anything they want with their cake. That sometimes it's the one place in the wedding people feel okay with being different.
MBM: What is your favourite thing about the cake industry?
CB: The tight knit community. Meeting cake decorator after cake decorator -from beginners to big celebrity cake artists -everyone wants to do the same thing - Cake! And everyone does it in their own way. It's opened a lot of doors and I've met so many wonderful people. Meeting the cake celebrities and seeing how humble and gracious they are is amazing. I'm thrilled to have them and always so amazed at how humble they are about coming. Most of them have had this "I can't believe you want me! Who am I?" type opinion of themselves. Its not what I expected and its very refreshing.
MBM: What is your least favourite thing about it?
CB: The amount of time I spend away from my family. My family means everything to me. As much as I love cake, I hate having to be away from them.
MBM: You are a very busy lady - wife, mother, cake designer and the store/online store. You also teach cake decorating classes. As a budding instructor myself, how do you overcome the nervousness, and do you still get nervous?
CB: Not as much as I use to. I get more nervous with smaller classes then with larger ones. And I get nervous when everyone in class is quiet or doesn't have questions. I usually joke around about it and that helps set me at ease.
MBM: What is your favourite class to teach?
CB: Right now, gumpaste flowers. The other day I had a student who looked like she was going to burst into tears when she looked at her flower. I was worried and thought she was upset. She turned and looked at me and told me she couldn't believe she had made something that looked so lifelike. It was the most amazing feeling to see her so proud of her work.
We have a exciting new class we'll be introducing very shortly. I'm hoping that will be my new favourite ;)
MBM: Congratulations on being named the administrator for the Kitchener branch of the CCDG. What prompted you to add that role to your growing list?
CB: Thank you :) Well, last fall we started getting together a small group of cake decorators once a month for cake "play dates". We talked cake and worked on projects. It was a great way to socialize with other local cake decorators. A number of them started encouraging me to open my own cake club. So we speant the summer asking people if they would be interested in being part of something like that. When we got a great response we decided to seriously consider it. When we heard that the Guild was opening up more chapters we figured that was a great way to go. Work with other groups from all over Canada.
MBM: What is your favourite cake flavour?
CB: Right now, raspberry swirl. We've been putting a raspberry syrup into our cake batter and it's my new fav! I usually don't like fruit flavoured cakes but love this one!
MBM: What is the one cake toy you cannot live without?
CB: Can I name 3? My Agbay, angled spatula and MY rolling pin. It's a pin from Linens N Things unfortunately and it's not available any longer. So we fight over it in the kitchen. Everyone wants to roll fondant with it :)
MBM: You have brought in some very big names in the cake world to teach at your store. How does it feel knowing that you are helping bring attention to the Canadian "Cake Scene"?
CB: Oh its so exciting! It's again something that has opened up amazing doors. Not only has it been an opportunity for Canadian cake decorators to learn from these big names without having to always travel to the US. But it has also brought the chance to be be promoting Canadian instructors in the US. I will actually be travelling to the US in 2011 and 2012 to be teaching as well.
MBM: What tip can you give to all of the budding cake artists out there?
CB: Don't be afraid to try something different. There are so many exciting new trends and techniques. Always want to grow your skills. Never stop learning :)
Thanks again Chrissie for taking the time to answer these questions. I can honestly say that even though we haven't met in person YET, you are probably me BCF (Best Cake Friend)! Now boys and girls, it is time for our giveaway. Not only is Icing Inspirations the sponsor of my first sugar class, Chrissie was gracious enough to send me a prize to give away to one lucky follower. We are giving away the "Santa and Rudolph" Mold by Karen Davies. Karen's molds are super cute and great quality! To win, you have to first be a follower of the blog. You also have to head on over to Chrissie's Online Store, and leave me a comment here telling me what your favourite item is at Icing Inspirations! Look everywhere, I'm sure you'll have more than one!
Until next time, Happy Caking!