From crumbs to cake: The creation of a cake company
Graeme and Elaine Venus are a married couple who have gradually built up a bespoke cake business in Newcastle Upon Tyne with help from social media and marketing. Offering cakes that have the wow factor and utilizing Graeme’s illustration and sculpting skills and Elaine’s baking, chocolate work and sugar skills, we endeavour to try to design and create something that is different and where possible can showcase our skills with sculpted and hand painted cakes. As well as the cakes we create likeness of people in clay as toppers for their cakes which can be kept as a keepsake of their special day. We can also create custom handmade chocolates, truffles and favours and many other edible treats.
In the beginning…
Graeme is a Illustrator, Graphic Designer by trade with a background in model making/animation, and photography. Elaine was a cake maker from a very early age learning all traditional aspects of cake decorating from her Mother. Interested in the medium Elaine was using Graeme wanted to apply his skills to using this to create his models and to decorating. He found a new passion very quickly!
Keen to practice his new found skill, Graeme began creating cakes for the family, beginning with a Birthday cake for his Father.
Taking direction from Elaine on what was possible, Graeme designed a garden cake which Elaine made and decorated, and Graeme made small models of gnomes, rabbits and a lawnmower to incorporate. Graeme’s mind started filling with up with new ideas, and he began researching new mediums and techniques. During their research they found there was a distinct lack of high end sculpted cakes. The market was merely saturated with very similar styles of cakes and basic novelty cakes. Graeme and Elaine wanted to create cakes beyond the imagination!
We put this to the test with our second cake, which was a lot more adventurous, and instead of being simply a round cake with little sugar
items on became a carved cake creation for friends that pushed our sponge to the limit becoming in the shape of a New York taxi cake.
By now the cake confidence was rising and our third cake was a bespoke designed Scooby Doo cake. This had a likeness of Scooby and several ghosts behind. Although a simpler cake than the taxi to sculpt it was a lot more complex with the painting techniques involved.
Friends were impressed by the cakes they were creating for family and started to ask for novelty cakes, encouraging them to go into business. Enquiries began to come in through word of mouth, and Graeme and Elaine began to realise that it all may be possible and that that they could create something that was lacking in the market……and so Sticky Sponge was born!
Social media helped to push us to new clients
We had previously been posting photos of our cakes on Graeme’s own Facebook page with impressive feedback from friends and friends of friends who could see the posts. The natural progression was to create our first business page solely for Sticky Sponge populating it originally with photos of our previous cakes and updating any new creations we produced.
The likes started to flow in and many new requests were generated from this. We continue to gain new likes which are created through friends of friends seeing posts on their feeds and by paid promotions targeting specifics such as people in our catchment area and interested in cakes and baking. The main thing though is to obviously have something that is visually appealing that makes people want to click on
that picture to find out more and hopefully to pull them into like our page and hence have an interest is seeing everything we can do and what we are doing in the future. This can only be done by showing
them something that showcases that cake or item. Obviously a poor photo would not make the product stand out.
From here we added ourselves to Twitter to gain more followers by targeting specific people and venues and following them to try and get them to follow us back so they see what we can do.
A Website is the gateway to your clients
We then created our website using a free design web tool called Wix. This has brought in more customers from being found on Yell.com which we pay a fee to be up the top of the North east region for cakes, wedding cakes and sugar craft and helps people searching to find our site. Graeme has created the website using the Wix tool and used his design skills to design the site although we are currently going through a change to create better landing pages to keep customers interest and so they can easily find what they need.
A happy customer creates orders
It is always great to experience a happy customer and in today’s world customer service is a key element to any business whether its walking dogs and scooping poop or major industries that keep the world turning. We try to make sure our customers are happy from start to finish and make everything as painless and trouble free as possible (obviously this doesn’t apply if you’re a dentist performing a root canal). At the end of the day its your customers special day and its our job to enhance that with something spectacular. So it always makes us feel good when we get lovely feedback and of course that feedback always benefits us as other people see this and it helps to create a snowball effect with new customers reading this and knowing we strive to do a great job for them.
One of the best experiences from this was with a cake we created for a couple who wanted a large 7 tier chocolate creation with an Australian theme and incorporating the words ‘All you need is Love’. With Graeme’s illustration and design background we like to create a more detailed design than most of your run of the mill cake designers who tend to create a sprawl that is similar to a drunk spider trying to make its way home after a wild night out. The cake was designed from scratch and incorporated all the elements the customer was keen to have including a koala, Australia with the flag of Australia on, surf boards, their names and much more. We put together the cake a few days before it is needed so it is as fresh as possible and created every element from moulded and hand sculpted chocolate. Everything was pieced together like a giant chocolaty jigsaw puzzle, then had painted and finishing touches added to create the final cake. The feedback was amazing from our customer which made this one of our most memorable creations along with the seeing everything come together into something spectacular.
As well as our social media we also attend wedding fayres and have adverts in some promotional materials to help push our business in specific markets. The wedding fayres help to meet people face to face and have examples with you to show what can be done and what we can do for them.
Everything is tied together with our brand which pulls everything together. We feel brand awareness is very important for recognition and to give the right feel to our company.
We also found that being able to offer a high quality of work that can not be obtained from the usual cake makers gives us the edge of why people should come to us after all the majority of the time a cake is required is a major life event that may not come along again so why not push the boat out and celebrate in style with something that is going to make the day even more memorable. We have also found that being able to offer other items such as hand sculpted likeness cake toppers of couples as a permanent keepsake of their special day and hand made truffles and chocolates means you can offer your customer so much more.
We now have just opened up our cake studio in Stocksfield Northumberland so we can have the space to create our works of art and hopefully move onto teaching courses in cake sculpture, modelling with chocolate and much much more
You can see all we can offer you and what our imagination can create for you at www.stickysponge.co.uk