SK: Do you come up with your ideas, or do your customers? Or is it a bit of both?
Liz: It’s a little of both. More often than not my customers will at least have a general idea of what they’re looking for. Whether it’s a theme or a character or what have you. I take their ideas and draw up a couple sketches based on them — usually I’ll draw up a simple idea and a more complex one, to give them multiple cakes to choose from at different price points.
On the rare occasion that my customer has no clue what they want, I will draw up a couple different designs to choose from. Everything is customized, from colors to flavors of the cake, to specially personalized details like private jokes. I’ve even turned tattoos into wedding cake toppers!
Cake baking and parenting
SK: Do your kids and husband get involved in your work?
Liz: Yes, because I make them! Haha! My husband actually helps me out with a lot of the baking, and will dye fondant for me and roll it out if I have a lot to do. I’ve started teaching him simple decorating skills so he can eventually be my right-hand when I’m working to let me take on more orders. He’s also amazing at looking at what I’ve done and suggesting little touches that finish my cakes perfectly.
More than anything though, he helps ground me. I get completely wrapped up in my work, and frequently I stress myself out trying to achieve perfection. He’s always there to encourage me, and help me to relax.
My kids love what I do. They love watching, they love taste-testing, and they love that they get whatever cake they want for their birthdays. They tell me I’m the best cake baker ever, which I have to admit feels pretty good! They also help with designing the cakes — I can show them a drawing and since they are kids, they give me honest feedback. A large majority of my work is actually cakes for kids, so to have my own kids at home telling me “Mom that’s awesome!” makes me feel more confident that the recipient of my cake will love it too.
SK: How have you had the time to build up your business while being a stay-at-home mom?
Liz: I do most of my work while the girls are in school or asleep. Being at home allows me time during the day to promote my business on Facebook and return calls and emails to customers, which is really nice.
SK: What is the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with in juggling home, family and career?
Liz: Not having enough hands or space! We have a fairly small kitchen, and since I work in my kitchen and dining room, I’m right in the middle of everything. So when my kids are home, I can’t just shut the door and work, I have to keep stopping to help them and get them stuff and do things for them. That makes my time spent working stretch out a lot longer!
SK: And what is the biggest reward?
Liz: I am very grateful that this is something I can do from home, even though we don’t have a ton of space. It was always very important to me to stay home with my kids until they were in school full time. As much as it drives me nuts to be interrupted a billion times, at the same time it makes me happy that I’m not missing out on my kids — I’m right there with them every day.
Looking to the future
SK: As your kids grow, you’ll probably want to expand your business. What are your plans for Eat Cakes in the future?
Liz: We are planning on opening a storefront in the next couple of years, which will be a full service bakery and custom cake shop all in one.
Find out more
Check out Liz’s amazing work at www.eatcakesiowa.com and facebook.com/eatcakesiowa.