Thursday, June 2, 2011

Necessary Expenses

I thought I would stop with the $70 label expense, but it seems that with business going so strong these next couple of months, I feel like I need to take the profit and reinvest in some decent equipment.

Besides a ton of boxes, cupcake liners, and pans that I will need to buy regardless of whether or not it's in the budget, there's one big-ticket item that I've had my eye on for a while.

It's an airbrush set. I've stayed away from that route because I don't know how good I would be wielding an airbrush at my cakes. I don't know how much artistic skill is really needed to make it a useful tool. I've seen some horrendous airbrushed cakes on Cake Wrecks. It's enough to scare me away from that type of cake decorating.

Working with more fondant orders, I've noticed that when I color the fondant before kneading and rolling and covering the cake, I tend to have lots of leftover colored fondant. That would be all well and good if I used the scraps right away. If I don't need to, the fondant loses it's initial texture, and it dries out. Even if I softened it up again with some glycerin, the texture is never the same and it tends to crack if you try to cover anything with it. This results in a lot of wasted fondant, and fondant is not exactly cheap.

I've decided to try and start making my own marshmallow fondant to use when I sculpt figures or flowers. It will cut my fondant costs since marshmallows, sugar, and Crisco is fairly affordable. When I buy these things in bulk the savings only add up. It will also be more cost effective if I have a little bit that gets wasted. It doesn't hurt the wallet as much.

My hands and wrists are starting to feel the early onset of some arthritis. My mom started having these pains when she was in her early 20's so I guess I should count myself lucky that I've gone 32 years without much creakiness. The Tiffany Box cake and Spiderman cake did a number on my bones that weekend, and I could barely move my hands when it was all said and done. Given the fact that it was a rainy weekend, the dampness in the air only worsened things for me.

I think forcing myself to start making my own fondant will help keep my wrists and hands in constant motion and exercise those joints so they don't stiffen up on me. It will probably hurt like a bitch at first, but no pain, no gain- as they like to say.

Covering a cake in white fondant and then going over the whole thing with an airbrush will save money on wasted colored fondant. It only takes a couple of drops of color mixed with a touch of alcohol to achieve nice coverage on an entire cake. So, in the long run, it will also save me money on gel coloring. I tend to use up a lot of that when I color fondant, too.

My cupcake stand bit the dust during my friend Vanessa's wedding. One of the pillars broke and I have not been able to find a replacement part anywhere online. I was going to just eat it and buy a whole new stand, but my stand is no longer being sold anywhere. I tried to track down the dude on eBay that I bought it from three years ago, but that fucker doesn't have an eBay account anymore.  Luckily, my mom found out Wilton is now selling a similar stand for about $100. I paid a little over $60 for mine. With my trusty coupons at AC Moore or Michael's, I'll end up paying about the same for the new one. I'll be more careful who I allow to handle it this time around. Who knew those things were so damn fragile?

I have two huge parties coming up within the week. Once I buy the boxes and staples, I'm going to take a chance and order me one of these:

I adjusted the picture size so I have no clue how it's going to look once I post this, but this seems to be a nice starter kit for a beginner like me. There are moderate priced sets starting at $100 and a pro set that retails for $350. This little baby is only about $70 before shipping and tax. I usually try to stay away from the super  cheap and tend to buy the pricier models, thinking they often work the best. I learned however, that a brand name doesn't always deliver.

KitchenAid Ultra Power 5-Speed Hand Mixer

One Christmas my mother and Joel both bought me a KitchenAid hand mixer. I asked for one because when I make small batches of frosting, it was easier to clean a hand mixer and a mixing bowl rather than all the parts of my stand mixers. They both paid about $50 for it. My mom ended up returning the one she bought because Joel lost his receipt. Anyway, it did the job, but the horsepower just wasn't there. If I used it on harder batters like a butter cream, I could hear the motor struggling and the mixer getting hot in my hand. I was in Odd Lot not too long after that, and saw a Black and Decker hand mixer selling for $10. It not only came with the beater attachment, but also the thin whisk attachment which I had originally wanted from the KitchenAid mixer (which didn't come with it) for whipping heavy cream, egg whites, and lighter ingredients. Not only is the power on that cheap little mixer staggeringly strong, but I've dropped it, I've gotten it wet, and it's been banged up quite a bit and that little sucker still works!! I love it, and I thought I had broken it once, but it still kept on going! I rarely use the KitchenAid hand mixer at all. If I must, I do so, but very reluctantly. It's so weak, I can't imagine it would be good for mixing anything that well at all.

So, with this in mind, I'm going to give this little $70 model a chance. I'm still learning. I don't use a whole lot of airbrushing on my cakes anyway. (They sell spray cans with edible color.) And with very little extra income in my wallet right now, it's the smarter choice to be frugal with these purchases. If I find it a tool that I use constantly, like my large KitchenAid stand mixers, I'll eventually spring for a pricier model with a stronger compressor.

This isn't helping my Get the F Outta Dodge Fund, but it will help me make my business more profitable and efficient. Isn't that how real business people think?


  1. Wooo for savings! Man, everytime I see you talk about business expenses and buying new equipment, it just makes me think you're in some sort of cake business managing game.

    And Spiderman Cake?! Why are there no pictures?!

    Also, you should see Bridesmaids because the main protagonist is a baker trying to get her cake business back off the ground. I thought you'd enjoy that when I saw it. :D

  2. Ah, crap! I meant my Ghostbusters cake. Spiderman is happening in two weeks. I'm doing it for an old classmate of mine.

    I haven't seen any new movies since Thor. =( I had a business meeting after work today, and had I known what a waste of time it was going to be, I would have just done a Solo Kat Movie Night. Next week, before my orders come up, I'm definitely getting to the movies. Monday seems like a good night.

    Thanks for the recommendation! Are you coming into the city next week so I can remember what you look like?

  3. Oh please, you know what I look like, all you need to do is watch Get him to the Greek :p But yes, I will be coming into the city! Will you be at barcade this week finally?

    Oh man, Spiderman cake. I am waiting in anticipation!

  4. Hehehehe!! I do miss our papparazzi days! I'll be Lucy Lui & you be Russel!

    I'm off from work that Friday and will be working on 180 cupcakes for a Sweet 16 for Sat, but if I start really early, I should be able to sneak off to Barcade to meet up with you later that night! It will be my reward for all my baking and non-partying!

    Spiderman is for the 18th! I'm crossing my fingers on that one. It's got me a little nervous.

  5. Awww Lucy Lui! Oh sure it's not racist when you say it! lol. Yay for finally hanging out with Kat! Yeah, we haven't done that in awhile! We should do that more when you're not super busy baking cakes!