The first time I met Belinda Gostling (Belle), was at my son's wedding last year. She had created the most exquisite wedding cake in antique purple and dusk shades, and numerous cup cakes to match, as is the fashion these days for weddings. I was amazed. So when I decided this year to throw myself a big birthday party for a big birthday, I asked her to do me a cake that represented the many things I had done in my life. And she stepped up to the plate with a three tier cake that threw me completely. Even now, when people who know me and the course of my life, see pictures of the cake, they are spell bound.
I have no idea how Belle does it... Setting up and running a business is hard enough, but with a small child still at home all day, it is a mighty task.
When I asked Belle if she would appear as a guest on my blog she had no hesitation.
It's so lovely to have you on my blog, Belle.
A. My background is design based, but I began making cakes when a friend asked me to do her wedding cake. I'd never really baked before, but I practiced lots ready for the big day and enjoyed it. I had a few requests after the wedding, and found that I may have a talent for baking and decorating. It wasn't until a few years later just after having my daughter, that I was made redundant, and decided to set up my own business, and Belles was created. I attended a few training courses to build my confidence, and haven't looked back.
2. Q. Which famous chef, cook or baker do you most admire, and why?
A. There are so many and I seem to discover another great Cake artist every day! I admire the work of Sharon Wee. Her work is flawless and very versatile. I would love to attend one of her training courses one day to learn some of her secrets! Also, Carlos Lischetti's sugar art work is incredibly detailed and to a very high standard and I aspire to create such beautiful models and decorations.
3. Q. Your cakes are so beautifully designed. How do you get your inspiration for these?
A. I ask the client as many questions as possible so that I get a good understanding of their likes and dislikes, and their expectations. Then I use the internet, books, magazines, to research the design theme, and together with my imagination, I sketch out some ideas and concepts. I love looking at wallpaper, wrapping paper, drawings, cards, window displays, etc, to give me inspiration. Then I transfer these ideas onto the cake.
4. Q. Are your designs all planned before hand?
A. The majority are planned, with a sketch drawn for the client to approve. However, when you start creating and making decorations, the design can sometimes alter to accommodate decorations. I am about to start making my dummy cakes for the 2014 season to take to Wedding Fairs, and a few of these will evolve whilst making them. It's fun to see where you end up!
5. Q. What advice would you give a young person who wanted to go into the cake business?
A. Stand out from the crowd. Cake businesses are booming and with so many to choose from, you need to have a unique selling point, whether that is a specific style, catering to a niche market, or being the best at what you do.
Give great customer service. So much of my work is via word of mouth, or repeat custom, and I try to treat each of my customers individually, so that they know I value their custom.
Work out your pricing before you set up. One of the hardest areas of this industry is pricing. I would spend time to work out how much it costs to make your products and create a clear structure on how to quote to customers. Prices vary dramatically from baker to baker. Some are professionals whilst others are hobby bakers. You need to price so that you include your profit.
Cake decorating is a job you have to love. It requires a lot of patience, attention to detail, and time, But the rewards are great when you see the smile on someone's face!
6. Q. Your cakes are so moist and full of flavour, What flavours do you offer?
A. I offer the basic flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, and lemon, but will make any flavour the client would like. I have recently made Oreo Cookie cake, Gingerbread cupcakes, Tiramisu cupcakes, and Sticky Ginger cake. It is nice to experiment and make flavours that aren't ordinarily available.
7. Q. I know this must be the hardest question to answer... Do you have a favourite design?
A. Here are a few of them!
|Princess, Shoes, and bags|
|Tool Box 2|
|Winnie the Pooh|
Here's how to get in touch -
Facebook - Belles-The Cake Company
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Belle!
And, best of luck for the future!