Sherrie-Ann’s the cake diva
Sherrie-Ann Turton grimaces as she remembers travelling to Florida from Barbados with a four-tiered wedding cake. It was painful to carry and every mile flown she thought it was going to suffer a mishap. She breathed a huge sigh of relief when she and cake landed safely to the delight of the bride.
She is wellknown on Instagram as Cake Diva and we can see why. Her cakes and confections are glamorous and so is Sherrie-Ann. Glammed up for the photoshoot for EASY magazine in her customised kitchen with mum Mary and dad Kenneth, brother Kenneth Jr and daughter Saniya Minnis looking on, Sherrie-Ann was made up just like the decorations on her cake.
She is a past student of Erdiston Primary, Christ Church Foundation school and the Barbados Community College where she attained an associate degree in French and Spanish. She did her bachelor’s in hotel management in The Bahamas where she graduated with upper second class honours.
Her journey hasn’t been the normal one of a pastry chef.
“After I graduated from university it was difficult to get a job in the field I had studied so I actually worked in an accounts department of a Government office for a little over a year before I decided I would prefer working for myself rather than be stuck in a job I did not enjoy at all,” she said.
“During that period of time I started offering $10 breakfast boxes to a few offices including my mother’s office (at First Caribbean Bank) and a few friends that were working in Government offices as well.
“It really started out as a side business as I was also doing savoury treats. After the cake requests started to increase I was unable to continue with the savoury treats and the cake business came alive.”
Sherrie-Ann said the increase in business convinced her parents she was doing the right thing in leaving her full-time job.
“I was more into savoury items but clients kept requesting cakes even though I had no experience in this field . . . . So I decided to watch a few YouTube videos and give it a try,” said the self-taught baker.
Sherrie-Ann, 28, said she got her love of baking from her dad: “Funny enough my mum is actually not the cook in the house, my dad is. He used to prepare a lot of sweet treats when I was younger and I was always right beside him and my love for the kitchen grew from there,” she said.
Sherrie-Ann is the proud owner of The Catering Club (“I always wanted to be involved in catering and so I just decided on the name as it depicted what services I was offering”) which sees her carrying a heavy load.
She started out with two recipes (“one from my dad and the other from my brother’s godmother Yvonne) and created the rest herself. She has about 20 flavours, some being exclusive for wedding cakes and for regular novelty cakes customers can get from funfetti to chocolate espresso. “Anything with chocolate makes it a specialty cake,” she said, laughing.
“A typical day starts around 7:30 a.m. when I start baking. This usually runs until lunch and after I start decorating until about 5 p.m., or until the last cake is finished which can run till about 10 p.m. on a very busy day.”
What helps Sherrie-Ann is that she works from home and has supportive parents.
“The upside of the business is being able to manage my time to suit me but the downside would be constantly being tired as I work very long hours standing.
“As a mum I am very fortunate to have a daughter that is supportive of what I do. She enjoys watching me work and shows her creative side by actually moulding figurines from fondant. I have strict business hours so as to make time to take her to her extracurricular activities and attend any outings on the weekends,” Sherrie-Ann said, as Saniya came over to help with some of the icing for the cupcakes she was making for the photoshoot
As with any pastry chef, she has a favourite “sweet” item to make – “Tiramisu.”
“My go to item is chocolate . . . . Chocolate makes everything so much better,” she said, gleefully.
Sherrie-Ann is all about quality control and she uses the same recipe for every order. She also depends on the feedback of her clients.
“Some of the reviews I get from my clients make me truly enjoy what I do. I have had a few people who refused to cut their cake.”
While Sherrie-Ann knows being an entrepreneur is hard work, she has learnt that “all that glitters is not gold.”
“As a self-employed person trust in yourself and not what someone claims they can offer you,” she said. She also credits support from Cimino Minnis, Charles and Veronique Waterman and Kim Deane.
“Since I have started my own business I am better able to enjoy life. I have become more confident in myself and what I have to offer and I am able to dictate my own destiny. I work really hard during the busy season and in return I am able to take my daughter on memorable vacations.”
She tells women who want to chart their own path to believe in themselves as no one else may believe in you at the beginning.
“If God has blessed you with a gift, utilise it in some form or fashion no matter how small it may be and you shall reap the rewards in due time.”