Cake is her craft
Entrepreneurship comes in all shapes and forms. Some people start small technology companies which end up being billion dollar corporations envied by competitors.
Others open restaurants and years later what was originally a single outlet becomes a popular franchise. The reasons for being your own boss also vary. For some it is a case of not being able to find employment otherwise. And then there are those individuals who have an idea and a vision that they alone can understand and develop.
For Alicia Tull, owner of The Lady Caker, it was primarily a case of being “tired of working for other people and wanting a new challenge”.
It is a decision she has not regretted one year later. “Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years, I just got tired of working for other people and putting all of my efforts and energy into something that was not mine,” she told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
“I then decided to find a product or service that wasn’t available here and discovered novelty cakes. I had always liked baking so I thought that this would be perfect,” she said.
Tull confessed to not really having an artistic bone in her body during school days, something her mother can confirm.
But she related her discovering of a “unique natural talent in food art”, saying she was one of the few artists specializing in creating “novelty and three dimensional hand-crafted edible cakes, not just any cake”.
Adopting her motto “desire, indulge, satisfy”, Tull said her offerings were diverse and catered to individual tastes and lifestyles.
In addition to traditional desserts, The Lady Caker offers vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, and reduced sugar alternatives to cheesecakes, pies, tarts, meringues, petit fours and other treats.
One could say this young woman stumbled upon her ability to produce these popular desserts.
“My first cake was done two years ago and that was for my son’s birthday and someone saw that cake and asked me if I could do one for them and from thereon other people have been asking me if I could do cakes for them,” she recalled.
“So I have been doing cakes for other people for about two years, but officially in the last ten months I have been in business.”
Except for spending “a couple weeks” learning to create flowers at Joan’s Sugar Craft, this business woman is self-taught.
“I did business, not art. Art was from first to third form and that was it,” she said while laughing.
In addition to the satisfaction which comes from discovering how artistic she actually is, Tull is especially pleased that she is able to provide income for herself.
“I haven’t actually had to work for anybody for two years,” she said proudly.
In June this year the former Barbados Community College student was among the dozens of exhibitors who participated in BMEX 2013. She used the opportunity to market her business, making a wider audience aware of The Lady Caker, especially the novelty work she produces completely by hand, much of it time consuming and including various popular comic and other characters, popcorn and sno-cone cupcakes, and edible flowers.
“Most of my business was from family, friends, and friends of friends, but now I am trying to get out there and reach a larger clientele. So it’s just to make sure that Barbados knows that novelty cakes can be produced here,” Tull said.
While she is capable of producing all types of cakes, the most popular item is the birthday cake, which can be made to suit individual tastes.
“The Lady Caker ensures that all treats, frostings and toppings are crafted for premier quality using the finest ingredients. We are also known for creating unique flavours and decorations,” she said.
This, she added, was because “people have been exposed to cake art from watching Ace of Cakes and other popular cake shows on television and usually think that these would be almost impossible to get here”.
“In addition they want to move away from the traditional cake to have works of art like the handmade characters. For most it is an expression of who they are and their particular interests. I make all of the characters by hand as I don’t have any moulds so all of the cakes and figures are either cut out or shaped,” she pointed out.
Some cakes are so complex that they can take up to a week to make “in terms of making all of the little figures”.
“They have to be dried before you can start assembling them,” Tull said.
While the business is currently home-based, the entrepreneur said this was not a problem since customers could have cakes delivered.
“It is best to order as early as possible as this is detailed work so some of the pieces take a little while to construct and to discuss exactly which customized creation suits your budget” she said.
Her goal is for The Lady Caker to be around for some time to come.