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Allysen’s living in the sweet Layne


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Allysen’s living in the sweet Layne

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ALLYSEN LAYNE is elbow deep in dough. No, it is not slang for money, it is actually the flour mixture for the base of her cakes and pastries.

Allysen is the brains behind Cake Central, the three-year-old a cake supply store, decorating school and gourmet bakery.

From a basic baking course at Jones Sugar Craft and Pastry Centre years ago, Allysen has risen to be one of the most sought after producers of specialised cakes.

“When I came up with the name of the business I thought this could be the central place where everyone goes to get cakes and anything necessary to bake cakes,” she said.

Allysen was encouraged by mum, Philomene, who always had freshly baked cookies ready for her two daughters when they came home from school.

“After doing the course I went online and researched all I could about cakes,” said the 27 year-old, who started baking cakes and cupcakes from her home.

Allysen, who has a bachelor’s degree in literature, was teaching English at Deighton Griffith Secondary School for four years before she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time cake designer.

She is now based at Canary Mall, the City.

Philomene, 53, a certified accountant, wanted to be a part of her daughter’s dream so she teamed up with Allysen to co-own the business. Though her daughter has great baking skills, Philomene holds the title of best baker. Therefore they split responsibilities based on each other’s strengths. Philomene bakes the cakes and makes sure the company’s accounts are up to par, while Allysen decorates the cakes, promotes the business via Instagram and Facebook and orders supplies for the store.

“We like to experiment with recipes and different ingredients to put our own spin to common flavours such as vanilla, eggnog, red velvet, mojito, Ferrero Rocher and fruit flavoured cakes,” explained Allysen. “Anything with alcohol, is a hit with customers,” she said, chuckling.

Allysen’s sister, who lives in Canada, also wanted to be a part of the business and designed Cake Central’s logo and colour scheme.

For Allysen, cake decorating is a work of art. She finds inspiration through nature, fabric, stained glass, architecture and seeing what well-known, international cake decorators display.

Her busiest period is May to September, and during this time she has to carefully plan her daily schedule and activities for the month. She said that with adequate planning she could cater for customers and corporate entities, local or abroad simultaneously.

Customers are amazed by the way she manipulates frosting to capture the little detail they asked for. “Customers are in awe when they see what we can do, but not everybody is willing to pay for it . . . . But in all honesty I cannot always disagree with them because everybody cannot afford to drop $400 on a birthday cake.”

Allysen explained that she benefits from her overseas clientele.

“My more lucrative customers who are more willing to pay come from abroad. I get customers from Trinidad and Tobago and the United States,” she stated.

With cakes being ordered for weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries or corporate events, Allysen has an unorthodox technique she applies to cake decoration. She recalled one of the most challenging, yet fun experiences designing a cake for a customer.

“I had an idea for the wedding cake with gold. I wanted to get as close as possible to a lace texture and I was not sure I could free hand and get it done flawlessly. So I tackled it differently,” she said.

After going through the feasibility of ideas in her head, Allysen did something unconventional.

“I went to Abeds and I bought lace material and started air brushing on samples. I realised I was getting the impression but I was not getting the negative spots to bring out the colour.

“So I placed it over another piece of material I had and when I took it up I got all the deep shades of netting I wanted. But then I put some icing into this liquid that dries really hard and I started free handing flowers into all the light spaces and suddenly it came together.”

Allysen wants her cakes to be an experience: “I want that when customers taste my cakes their reaction is like ‘wow’. I want that when they chew they taste the layers of rich flavours.”

Allysen said that her biggest challenge over the years has been hiring dedicated employees which is one of the reasons why she and her mum decided to run the business by themselves.

Over the years Allysen has grown to be very appreciative of customer service. From doing her job, she realised that a person in the customer service industry has to deal with people with different attitudes.

“I have a lot of respect for people who are on their feet sometimes for more than nine hours a day and have to keep smiling despite of how they are feeling, or serving customers who may not be as polite to them as they could be,” said the entrepreneur who is also in the process of completing her Master’s degree in literature.

Allysen is all about women empowerment and tells EASY: “I am happy that there are so many women in this field that I can refer customers to if I am unable to carry out an order.”

As an entrepreneur Allysen knows that it doesn’t signify overnight riches.

“Coming from somewhere where I was earning a salary as a steady income, I have come to recognise that if there is a tropical storm I have to work . . . . If I am sick I have to work because any little factor could change my income and being broke really motivates you to work.”

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