Monday, July 18, 2011

Friends & Cake

They just don't mix.

Fail #1- Spiderman Cake. Spidey never quite came to life. The upper cake fell apart and I nearly missed the entire party. A make-up cake was constructed and delivered. I have not heard a "thank you" since.

Fail #2- Pinkalicious Cake. The mother probably gave me the wrong time to deliver. My phone was stolen & missing for about a day and a half. Traffic, poor timing, and lack of communication had me showing up an hour and a half after the drop-off time, walking into a WASP nest of rude, bitchy, post-marriage fatties in the 'burbs. Oh, and my friend totally threw me under the bus to get back in his wife's good graces. But, hey, what are friends for? And that fucking cake rocked.

Fail #3- First 1st Birthday Cake. Angel food cake with whipped cream frosting and maybe some summer flowers. The cake was a beauty. It was simple. My friend asked if she could leave it out on her table overnight. I asked if her apartment was air-conditioned. She said yes. When she got home, some of the frosting was melted. Her daughter hated the "less-sweet" cake I was asked to make for her sensitive baby belly. My friend insists the cake was delicious and the melt-down was her fault because the apartment was not as cool as she first thought it was.

Fail #4- Princess 1st Birthday. This was for a good friend's sister out in Howard Beach. The cake was NOT fondant covered, at my insistence. The whipped buttercream I made started to melt even before I left my house. I got there two hours before the party started. In hindsight, I should have scraped off the failed buttercream and refrosted the entire cake in a more stable icing and explained the change. My friend and her sister insisted that they still loved the cake. I tried to refuse payment. It was a melted mess. I gave back half her money and promised a free cake, even as she reassured me that it was gorgeous. It was NOT gorgeous. I should have made THEM the Pinkalicious Cake. They deserved it more than those idiots in Mt. Sinai.

Success #5- Farm Cake. Same friend from Fail # 3. This is Second 1st Birthday Cake- the Farm Edition. It took place at the SAME EXACT spot as Fail #1. I took my time and did it all right. In the end, I ran out of time to make more fondant animals, but was saved by the fact that she mentioned she had cute Farm candles that she wanted to use. I made one cute pig, one cute duck, and one ugly cow. The beautiful farmhouse on top was the centerpiece. Because I didn't cut out a board for it and I failed to stick in some support dowels, it started to sink in the middle of the cake, and the two "stay-in-place" support dowels I stuck through the cake started to come up the top of the barn. However, on the happy note, everyone loved it. I was only 45 minutes late. I got another golf-cart ride from the same farm employee who took pity on me the first time with the Fail #1. Tons of people got up to take pictures of the cake and to let me know how awesome it looked. I snapped some great pics for my website. I went home and took a nap before I started the next order. When I checked, I realized my camera didn't have a memory card inside of it. FAIL. I texted my friend to ask for copies of the pictures her husband took. She gave me a good report.

Even though a couple of the Fails were not entirely my fault, I realized that I get way too nervous when making a cake for a close friend. I put all sorts of pressure on myself, blowing up what is expected of me in my own mind. I stress so much about it, my anxiety gets the better of me. I end up imploding and creating chaos instead of beauty.

Lesson Learned: Try to avoid taking cake orders for close friends.

If that can't be avoided, I need to realize that they are paying customers just like anyone else. I don't need to recreate the 7 Wonders of the World in cake and sugar. I just need to make a delicious and beautiful creation just as I have been doing all along for my various customers. My friends don't deserve any more or less because I always give all that I have to my customers. They will not get gipped out of an outstanding cake.

After all that, my upset-stomach is back stronger than ever, my sleep patterns are all over the place, and my anxiety levels are off the charts. As much as I would like to please my customers and wow my friends; dammit, some of this shit just isn't worth it. I have a crazy order in Brooklyn this Saturday. A huge part of me hopes and prays they back out. We have not confirmed it in stone yet, but $200 isn't worth the headache I'm going to have making this order.

Not good for business, but I'm burned out. I'm tired. I want to enjoy the rest of my summer. I could use a break.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Be Proud

So, non-techie, code-ignorant ME totally just managed to redirect my domain name over to my wordpress site without having to flash a redirect page first!!!!!! Yes, little old me figured it out and did it all by my lonesome!!

I'm so proud of myself. I thought this shit was hard. It intimidated me, and I often went with the the opinions and knowledge of others when it came to matters of the technical side of things. I kind of knew what I wanted, but had no idea how to go about getting there and was utterly clueless on how much I should be paying someone to help me get there.

Over lunch today, someone who was browsing my site casually mentioned that the experience was marred because the redirect page took way to long to bring up my site and it looked sloppy and haphazard to begin with. It was alarming, as if they were about to be redirected to a dirty amateur porn site. =(

I explained that it was done as a favor to me to save me the headache of trying to figure it out. Although its not what I want people to see when they type in my domain name, I'm also realistic enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I was just grateful for the gesture.

Then, my lunch partner laughed and said a better favor would have been to let me know that I could just do it directly through my hosting site. In my case, Go Daddy. I was too embarrassed to ask how to do it. I knew I was out of my league as far as technical knowledge goes within the group I was lunching with. I also felt sort of foolish being so proud of my site, and not realizing what a poor impression it was giving when people saw that redirect page up there first. I found out most people didn't even wait for wordpress to load because that redirect page scared them away from it. There was also a typo, (another person pointed out to me).

When I got back to work, I spent most of my afternoon reading through Wordpress and Go Daddy, getting the gist of it. I made the changes as per the instructions, and was set to wait the 48 hours for it to take. I took another look tonight, and realized that Go Daddy has a special section to do just that without any hassle or fuss!!!

And I did it!! Check it out: Queenie Cakes . Woohoo!!!! Go me!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

No One's Whore

I wasn't going to write about this because it had me so fed up, I wanted to walk away from everything and
not look back. I know I have my hissy fits every now and again, and I slap on the drama in thick slabs, but I was so done with this business, it was beyond a common drama queen crisis.

I didn't want to talk about it anymore. I didn't want to rehash it with any of my friends. And I certainly didn't want to write about it. In fact, I'm not even going to give it back it's legs by detailing the scenario again now.

I don't know where people in this society get off on treating people like shit because they are "working" for them. In truth, because of what I do, people are paying me for my services. Yes, technically, I'm working for them. However, it doesn't give anyone free reign to make me feel badly, to treat me like shit, or to dehumanize my existence. I'm human, and prone to mistakes, just like anyone else. Sometimes, circumstances go beyond my control, and I do my best to deal- but in short; shit happens.

I try my best to right a wrong. Cake wrecks happen. Not all the time, but most recently I've had two major cake wrecks for two people I just happened to know since elementary school. Ironic? Maybe. The first one was Spiderman, and I did all that I could to try to rectify the situation. I didn't charge for the first wreck of a cake I gave them. ($100 loss) And I didn't charge for the second cake I made them. ($75 loss) It's a lot of money I lose in profit, but it's the cost of materials that really eats into my wallet. However, the situation was so terrible, I would have done anything to try and make it right. They were happy enough to ask for the second cake and set up a delivery time, but I haven't heard from them since and I have no clue whether or not they liked that cake. Who knows?

The last one was different. The cake was perfect and beautiful and worthy to be on any magazine cover or tv show. It was PERFECT. Perfectly late. I have a feeling the woman gave me the wrong delivery time, but even if she did I still ended up coming quite late because of car trouble, extreme holiday traffic, and a stolen phone. I'm getting stomach pains just thinking about it, but to sum it up- I fucked up. I got there late, and the party was practically over. Did I have any clue this party was only going to be about an hour and  a half long?  No! Who the hell throws a party for an hour and a half? But, even so, I came late and it was my fault. That's $200 that I didn't get paid. It was my fault. Fine.

I apologized till I was blue in the face- via several forms. It just wasn't going to make it okay. I kind of knew it was headed in that direction, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel badly. I was in near tears telling them how sorry I was. My friend seemed very understanding, giving me several huge bear hugs before letting me go when I delivered the cake. His wife wouldn't even look at me. Understood. I didn't expect a cyber-chew-out from him, since he seemed so non-chalant about the whole thing when we were face to face. I felt as though he was trying to man up in front of his wife when I sent my apology to her (cc'ing him on it), and he utilized me as his method of showing her he was sticking up for him family. I don' know what there was to stick up for. I admitted how wrong I was, I apologized till blood was coming out of my palms, and I didn't charge them for a PERFECT cake that they still enjoyed enough to take pictures of and slap on FB.

There's the crux of it all. If I fuck up a stranger's cake- I may lose a customer and lose any potential future business from that customer. When it's a "friend", everyone is interwoven all over the fucking internet and my name get's dragged through the mud on a professional and personal level. I don't get many bad reviews. AT ALL. Almost every cake I've ever made anyone- paid or free- has been received happily 98 out of 100 times. I take constructive criticism well- too sweet, too dry, too much alcohol, too rich....I hear it every now and then, but I adjust and I have MANY repeat customers. This year, most of my business has been first time customers, leaving me very little room to mess up.

I know it's my responsibility to showcase myself and my business in the best light possible, but I'm only one person and sometimes it gets away from me. Accidents happen. Weather happens. Time slips by faster than I can keep up with. I don't walk in with the attitude that people WILL understand and I WILL be forgiven. I know that these events are important to these people and that's time that they won't get back. The importance of me showing up with my best cake on time is never lost on me. It's not always possible, though. That's when I wonder whether or not I should be doing this if I can't deliver the best on time every time. When I fuck up, I understand that people will be furious at me.

On the other hand, I don't understand the mindset of making someone feel worse about something they are obviously already feeling really shitty about. The irony isn't lost on me. I know I can hold a grudge like a stubborn little bitch, and I can drag a fight on and on and on for hours. Someone may apologize to me and admit they are wrong, but if I don't feel like it's a sincere sentiment, then I won't accept it and I'll keep raging on.

Do I feel like maybe this is my own personal baggage or Karma coming around and taking a bite out of my ass? Of course. I think every single one of my exes and former friends can stand off on the sidelines and enjoy watching my distress being the one on the other side getting railed at. For once, I feel like my Karmic deposits have been depleted, and I have a whole slew of past transgressions coming back to hit me.

But, that's my personal Karma. In business, I have never treated a working person like a cockroach, and I've never behaved as rudely as these people have acted. I've worked with all different levels of economic and financial classes of people. Do you know what I've experienced? Those who can just afford my cakes or the ones who scrape and save to throw these parties are the one's who have always paid me what I asked, were flexible to change, and have always been polite, respectful, and grateful to me for doing what I do. Half an hour late? It's ok. Changed design due to heat or humidity or circumstances? No problem. And they tip me....VERY well!! These are working class people who shop clearance, clip coupons, and shut off lights to save electricity.

These fucking suburban soccer moms have been so nasty, so selfish, so CHEAP, and so unrealistically demanding. I don't know if they feel that because the value of their homes exceed what 5 people make in a year- they can treat people any which way they feel. In fact, any party I have attended in these well-to-do environments have always proved to me how detached from reality most people get when they no longer have to worry about money.

Do you know what people talk about at suburb parties? They brag about the latest photographer they just used for their kids' portraits, the cost of the newest dance classes little Britney is attending, the expense of their latest family vacation, the hassle of leasing their new Benz station wagon, complaints about the cleaning lady not cleaning well enough, the pool man not skimming the pool as well as they would like, the blaring music coming out of the landscaper's truck, the fact that this sister-in-law didn't rsvp to the party but showed up anyway and brought the WRONG type of Barbie as a gift- HEAVEN FORBID! 

I've sat there, feeling like an alien watching humans for the first time in my life. Is this what "living the dream" is really like? Is that what people feel is happiness for their children when they don't struggle with money? Give them everything- more of everything. The best of the best of the best- and if someone fucks with that formula- tear them down like the maggots they are!

Mistakenly, I had always assumed that more money meant more class, and maybe better people. I've learned working in my business that the one's with the most money have the least amount of class and have been the ugliest of people I have ever dealt with.

Men and women pay whores for their services. They are bought for pleasure and they are expected to deliver. Their money doesn't give them the right to treat them badly. Whether someone is paying for a whore or a cake baker- the cost of services does not encompass disrespecting anyone. The title on this blog is wrong. Even if I was someone's whore, no one will ever buy the right to make me feel like shit.

Whore or not; everyone deserves to be treated like a human being with a very basic level of respect. Now, at what point did the money in one's bank account buy the right to forget that?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Second Thoughts

I'm beginning to feel that maybe the cake business is not for me. It was fun for a while, and it was exciting, but the more serious it gets the less enjoyable it is to me. I don't know if it's because I'm just a flake who never finishes anything she starts or if it's because I want the freedom to pick and choose the types of things I want to do.

I don't know if I want to do this much longer.