The talent behind eat Cakes out of eastern Iowa is an amazing mom of two who has turned her natural talent and amazing creativity into a really awesome business. Liz Wilson dishes on how she has created her super adorable business while being a kickass mom at the same time.
How did you get started baking cakes?
I loved helping my mom bake and make candies when I was a kid, and eventually I took over the cake baking. I never really worried about making them look pretty, but when my oldest daughter was having her first birthday I couldn't imagine anyone else making her cake. After that I just started making them more for friends and family and found out that I had a real talent for it.
How did you go from baking as a hobby to realizing you had the chops to make a business out of it?
When people insisted on paying me, I realized that maybe I could try and make a business out of it. I'm a stay at home mom, and decorating cakes allowed me to make a little extra money while being at home with my kids at the same time.
What is like working from home with two kids in tow?
Sometimes it can be difficult, especially during the summer months since they're here more often, but I try to work when they're in school or asleep as much as possible. Both so I'm not disturbed and so they don't feel ignored.
What is the process after you get a cake or topper order?
The first thing I do is sketch it out, then for toppers I dye my fondant in all the different colors I need, and I tend to work in stages, like I'll make all the bases, then all of one piece I need, etc etc. For cakes I bake first, then ice, carve if needed, cover in fondant or buttercream, and attach decorations. Sometimes decorations need to be made ahead of time and sometimes I can work on them while other steps are happening, like when the cake is baking and cooling, and while chilling the cake once iced.
What has been your most successful/popular creation to date?
Gizmo! Five years ago I made a Gizmo cake for my cousin's daughter. It got a bit of attention here and there, was featured on cakewrecks.com's Sunday Sweets a few years ago—people definitely liked it. Then for some reason it was sent in to STACK magazine in Australia, who posted it on their Facebook page. It's been a week since they posted it, and it's received almost 64,000 likes, almost 125,000 shares, and has made my own business page triple its fan base. I've had people all over the world asking if I could ship Gizmo, including Mark Dodson who did voices for the Gremlins movies.
What is the most common question you receive from your fans, and what is the answer you give them?
Lately, it's been whether or not I have a tutorial for Gizmo, or if I plan on making one, haha! At the time I don't have plans to make a tutorial but maybe at some point it is something I'd consider.
What is the biggest challenge you have with your business?
Getting my name out to people who value work like mine. I really have no marketing budget, so until now all of my business has come from word of mouth. Now that I'm able to ship cake and cupcake toppers I'm hoping that business will pick up even more.
What has been your most difficult creation?
Definitely R2D2. It was the first cake I made that had a large structure inside it, and it was also the first time I made a cake with light and sound. It was a week long process. The ambulance was also pretty difficult, taking the proportions of such a large item and shrinking it down to cake size.
How do you balance work, home and family? What is your secret to success?
I try to work as much as possible when my kids are busy playing, or are asleep. I don't like for them to feel like they're in the way of anything. And if we have something planned, I will make sure to not take orders for around that time. My kids will always come first, and they really do enjoy the work that I do. They're very proud of their mommy, which makes me very happy and makes it easier to stay up until 3am working and get up with them at 7 the next day.
What would you tell another mom who wanted to start a business?
Do your research, practice practice practice, and then go for it! And don't give up. I've found that every time I feel like giving up, something happens that makes me so happy I didn't give up, and it just keeps pushing me and making me want to succeed.