Sunday 25 March 2018

Let's Be Cheerleaders!

Hello, and welcome to Amelie’s House. It been a while since I posted here - this is the place where my cake career initially began, as an enjoyable hobby to scratch a creative itch while I was on maternity leave. If you have followed my progress since then, you will have seen I have been lucky enough to have that hobby become a full-time career (or, as you other professionals will probably recognise, a more than full-time career that eats into all my spare time as well). As you have maybe seen, my work now takes up so much time that my blogging has been sadly discarded: I do really miss it, but for now I have to concentrate on other things.

Why write a post now? Well, I want to talk about a few things that have happened recently, and perhaps share some of my perspective. For those that don’t know, I’m lucky enough to be a supplier to well-known store, and over the weekend one of the cakes that I supply to them was featured on some social media querying the pricing. In certain quarters the price shown became a bit of a sensation, and I’ve had a lot of attention as result, so I want to write a few things about it – some facts, and some feelings.

So the first fact about ‘Unicorngate’ - I can confirm the pricing shown was incorrect, by a large amount. To me that seemed obvious, but I didn’t immediately say so because of the second fact, which is that I don’t set the final pricing. That’s just not how a supplier relationship works. I negotiate a price to create and deliver a cake, and whoever then sells it in their store gets to set the price they charge to the customer. It isn’t up to me, which is why I didn’t just come out and say I thought it was incorrect: that’s not my call to make. And I’m very loyal to the stores I supply, so I’m not going to correct or contradict or even discuss their pricing without talking to them first. (I’ve spoken to them since, and they agree it was mislabelled, but I haven’t checked if it has changed).

Contrary to some of the wilder ideas I read on social media, what I make from designing, making, selling and delivering a cake (yes, I drive each one into London myself) is a fair price. I’m not prepared to discuss my pricing policies in more detail, nor how I justify the cost of my work - I don’t feel the need to justify myself at all to anyone but my clients, friends and family, who are tremendously supportive and proud of my achievements. And I am not going to be an apologist for any retailer I work with, the one in question is a fabulous store, and the staff who I work with are totally professional and incredibly helpful. I am honoured to be one of their suppliers, to the extent that when I see my products in their store I have an out-of-body experience and am convinced it is just a dream.

Alright, enough facts: the price shown for the cake was wrong, I believe what I charge is fair, and even if the store goes on sell a thousand of these cakes I will not be retiring to a villa with a huge stack of profits.

Now, I want to write about feelings.

I’m writing this with some sadness in my heart, but I need to express my disappointment at the response by a majority of the cake community towards this issue. I have not seen all, or even many, of the posts and comments as I do not belong to any of these groups, and how glad I am of that. I uninstalled Facebook and Twitter from my phone for Lent, and it has been a mental relief, and after this situation I very much doubt if I will be installing them again soon.
I am quite a private person, I don’t share many personal photos of myself and family, I am not interested in being a ‘celebrity’. My consuming drive is to create, to paint, to be an artist. So I have struggled all week about whether I should respond at all because I know that I am opening myself up to more criticism. However, I belong to a book club full of fabulous supportive women, and this month we have been reading ‘Women and Power’ by Mary Beard. It speaks on how women’s voices have been silenced throughout time, and I found it both saddening and inspiring. So, I wondered, should I maintain a dignified silence, or should I express my (strong) feelings on this subject? Well obviously I have plumped for the second option, and if I was right to, I guess only time will tell. Will my thoughts make a difference? I doubt it - if people are prepared to behave in the way which they have behaved it seem unlikely one blog post will change that.

I do apologise for being so negative about this, but I am disappointed in some members of the cake community with their response and I feel that the unwarranted criticism I have received over this has gone beyond the actual issue. I am a person (see the picture on the left), I am not a big corporation or a nameless face, I am one woman working from my tiny kitchen at home trying to produce magnificent cakes, just like the majority of you reading this. When you make negative comments or criticisms about a product it’s easy to forget that there is a person who has worked hard to create it. I have not had my feelings hurt by these comments, but then I am lucky enough to have strong support from my circle of friends and family. Others may not be so fortunate. This has been an interesting and difficult week for me, and I feel that an achievement I was proud of has been a little dirtied by a lot of uninformed and maybe unpleasant commentary from a community I thought I was welcome in. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener…

But I will, at this point, take a moment to say thank you to my cake ‘sisterhood’, the cheerleaders, the fabulous creatives who have championed my cause and defended my corner. As I mentioned previously I haven’t seen all of these posts, and I won’t mention anyone by name to spare their blushes, but the support I have had from these people has been terrific. One lady in particular is the most amazing, inspiring business woman I know. She actively supports and encourages other business women, and spends a lot of her time educating women to be more successful in business. I am privileged to count her as a friend.

And this is the nub of my post/essay/rant, why are we not all living like her?

Why aren’t we holding each other up, encouraging, supporting and honouring each other? Being a small business owner is, as I’m sure you all know, a difficult and challenging role. You work long hours, often for little pay (despite what some may believe). Surely the least, the very least we can do for each other is to be kind, generous, tolerant and caring, and not to rush to judgement.

So in conclusion, let’s be cheerleaders for each other, let’s celebrate each other’s good fortune and talent. In fact let’s create a world full of fabulous rainbow, mermaid and unicorn cakes. And if you are lucky enough to ever get to sell those cakes at the kind of margins that people seem to think I can, then all you’ll ever hear from me is praise: more power to you, and well done.


  1. Well said my lovely. I saw one of the posts and was saddened about the amount of people jumping on the bandwagon. You've got my support 100% percent. Don't let the jealous few get to you. xxx

  2. Well said, I was personally shocked by the price on the post in question and would love the opportunity to supply that well known store amongst others, I say good on you either way because if I charged accordingly for all the designs I do all of my fully iced cakes would come in at £150 or more.

    Best Wishes,
    Gemma @sweetharmonyp

  3. Hi Natasha, I'm so glad you wrote this! I defended you from the day the post went out, saying to everyone that at the end of the day it's the store that sets the pricing and any negative comments will affect you as a business. And I know how hard we work to keep our businesses running! I will share this everywhere so hopefully everyone can see how harmful these comments can be, it's like we need to teach adults what we teach children - to think before they speak! I'm a huge admirer of your work, and I hope this gets your name out there further and has some positive repercussions for you! Good luck. Jerri (that little cake boutique)

  4. well said I thought the whole Saga was ridiculous. There Just jealous there but selling to Harrods.

  5. Bravo! well said. I am so tired of the negativity that abounds in all spheres of life - lets see the positives and celebrate them.

  6. Hi Natasha, I'm so glad you've written this, but sad you had to endure it too! I saw so many posts/comments going around and felt instant disappointment in the words I was reading. I refused to engage/comment on anything as it was just so unfair. I will however share this post as I just think people can be so god dam thoughtless and rude. I mean come-on - YOU HAD ONE OF YOUR CAKES IN HARRODS!!! That's amazing xx

  7. Well said. Unfortunately the internet brings out the worst in people, as you have found. You've done the right thing by speaking out. At the very least it may make peoole think twice and try to see that there's two sides to a coin. Your work is amazing- keep up the great (if underpaid) work!!! ❤❤❤

  8. Yes it boggles the mind doesn't it? I only started on facebook as a way of getting my cakes out there. It was a tool ( I has since decided that Facebook is a tool, but tools use facebook).
    I joined some cake pages and very quickly discovered there was a fair degree of nastiness out there from other bakers.
    So I left and blocked them. The ones I am a member of now are supportive and nice.
    I also make no excuses for my prices, despite the oft cried, 'But its only caaaaaake!' - no if it was 'only' cake you would have bought one from the supermarket!

  9. Congratulations on writing the perfect response. I wrote with a similar tone on my wall a few weeks ago. It would seem there is a minority who revel in criticising those who are achieving success in our community... I saw the post ... I shared it .. but in hope that one day this could be me!!! ... xxx

  10. Much admiration and respect ❤️

  11. I think your response was very polite and as mentioned above perfect. Best of luck to you and well done on getting your cakes into The well known store. I would be very pleased if the cakes from my little shop were sold there. Supporting each other in this industry is the only way we should respond, there are enough people outside the industry think we have an easy job and make millions, which of course we know is not true! Although having said that it is still the best job in the world. Best wishes Carrieanne @thecakeroombridgnorth

  12. I haven't seen the post that has sadly caused you so much grief, and I have no desire to. I read your post as it was shared on a cake community Facebook page, and I just wanted to express some support and an echoing of the wish that we cake bakers could just support each other and not use social media to tear each other down. It can be lonely when you're doing this in your kitchen at home but we do it because we love it and take strength from the online networks out there who offer advice and encouragement. I hope this experience will just feel like a dim and distant memory for you very soon and that you just keep doing what you're doing, knowing that there are fellow bakers who hadn't heard of you before today, but who agree with everything you said and support your stance.

  13. I am pleased you have responded, now you have written down your disappointment about the whole issue you can park it and move on.
    Most of it shows the lack of general understanding about supplying anything to any retailer, once they have agreed theirs and your terms, they can do as they like and charge the earth, that’s the business they are in.
    Your hand painting is always so beautiful and even eight aeeing your name on the cake I instantly recognised the Work how many people can have a style like yours that can be recognised so easily - not many I would bargain and obviously this retailer know talent when it see it. Onwards and upwards thank you for sharing with us all. X