Finding my Niche
When I started my business I made everything. A Chanel bag. A half and half Moana and Paw patrol two tier cake. A Prada shoe. Fondant, buttercream, models, carved cakes, roses, you name it, I said yes to it. It took a while for me to figure out that just because I made cakes, didn’t mean I had to make ALL cakes. Like in a lot of professions in the beginning you are expected to be something of a Jack of all Trades. A little good at most things. Now some people are able to become brilliant at all of these things. But the vast majority of us are going to have to choose to specialise in something if we want to really excel at it.
In February 2019 I badly sprained my ankle. I was in the middle of a hectic week at work, taking my oldest child to school before taking my youngest to nursery. One minute I was walking along the pavement, the next I was on the floor in excruciating pain. A trip to A&E later I was hobbling around on crutches and trying to arrange for people to help with my children, but the one thing I was not going to was let my customers down. So even though everything took twice as long and I was in agony I got the cakes for that weekend out the door.
Then I had a breakdown.
I consider myself to be a person with good boundaries. Saying no to things was something I had learned to do over years in therapy and I had gone on to practice this principle in my life and relationships. Somehow at work, in the rush of being in demand and the thrill of bringing people joy, I had forgotten how to say no. This breakdown was the catalyst. I couldn’t go on doing everything for no money and expect to be good at my job, feel fulfilled and be a good contributing member of my family. Something was going to have to change.
I was going to have to stop taking on the jobs that didn’t fill me with joy and I was going to have to start charging more money for my time and my skills. I wanted to give up the character and modelling work and concentrate on the artistic, colourful, dramatic work that I truly enjoyed. But this was terrifying. What if no one wanted me anymore? What if no one thought my work was worth it? What if I wasn’t successful? All my people pleasing needs came rushing back to me.
But, I was forced to ask myself, was I really successful at the moment? I was rushing my children to bed in the evening so I could get on with work. I was barely seeing my husband at all and when I did I was half listening for my phone to beep with the next order or next compliment on social media. I had made almost no money and I was in tears of exhaustion at the end of every weekend. I had made the classic error of confusing busy with successful.
That was when I made the hard decision to rebrand. Once upon a time my business was called What Katy Baked. But in May 2019 I changed the name to Cake Is Happening and launched a new logo, and a new ethos. Artistic, colourful, original designs with the dream in mind that people would one day come to me for one of my designs, not for the design they had seen on Pinterest. Which is illegal anyway. But we will talk about in ‘Can I have a Disney Princess cake?’
And now I like to think that when you look at my Instagram feed, or my website (not my Facebook, I’m horrible at Facebook) you know what I do. I do still get the odd request for a super hero cake but the vast majority of the time people come to me because they have seen and maybe even eaten something I’ve personally made. And they want that.
Finding the customers who want to buy what I want to make has been a long task. It’s also never over because what I want to make is an ever evolving aesthetic. But hopefully those customers will come on this journey with me and with a little bit of trust I will be able to make them the cakes they didn’t even know they wanted.