CakeArtCreations – Custom Made Cake Toppers

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Home and Living
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Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?

My name is Allison. I started Cake Art Creations on Etsy in 2008. I make custom made personalized glitter cake toppers for any occasion that has a cake. I have been a cake decorator and papercraft designer for over 20 years. In the cake industry, I saw the trends turning towards cake toppers as decoration for cakes. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for cake decorating and my love for papercraft to create custom glitter cake toppers.

What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?

I sell custom made personalized glitter cake toppers. Any occasion that has a cake deserves a personalized cake topper! The complete design process takes place in my home which is great as it allows me the flexibility of a good life/work balance.

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What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?

Running a business always offers many challenges which I believe is what keeps you on your toes and alive with ideas to keep ahead of problems. My biggest challenge is shipping delivery times, particularly at the moment with delivery services being stretched to capacity. I pride myself on giving my customers a completely professional experience, however, once the item leaves me it is out of my hands which can be frustrating. I maintain communication with my customers and encourage them to contact me if their order doesn’t arrive. I will always work with my customers to give them a positive outcome.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?

I enjoy the freedom of design that my business gives me. It allows me to explore creative ideas and constantly produce new items. Being a small business, I love that the little cake topper that I have made love with my own hands is going to a home and put on a cake that will be the center-piece of that person’s special day. I love seeing photos that my customers send me their cake creations using my toppers. The hardest part I find about being an entrepreneur is trusting myself and trusting the process of building a business. I have had my fair share of being filled with doubt and fear, especially when I left my full-time job to run my business as my sole enterprise.

What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?

It has taken many years for my Etsy shop to take off. Really only the last 3-4 years has it ramped up. That is because I have spent my time learning and researching. I knew my weak areas, such as marketing (especially online) so I made sure I learned about it. My advice to new Etsy entrepreneurs is to join Facebook groups related to Etsy shops, ask lots of questions, read about areas that you are not strong in, do the Etsy U courses (so much information is contained in these courses and they very inexpensive). It will take a while for your shop to take off… stick with it, love it, nurture it, learn as much as you can. You are in this for the long haul and hard work will pay off.

What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.

I am constantly researching current trends and working in the cake industry allows me to see the beautiful colors, textures, and designs that are coming through. I hardly sleep because my mind is full of ideas! I love looking at party idea websites, color trends, even the latest fashion gives me ideas, and I always keep my eye out for something that is interesting. I’ve had ideas for cake toppers come from the oddest things.

How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?

I have always loved crafts of any kind. I trained as a cake decorator and I have also completed a graphic design diploma. I come from a family of small business owners so have learned so much from working with them over the years. I am a believer in self-guided learning so I am often doing online short courses related to running a small business.

What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?

I admit I am still learning about online marketing. I have found for my cake toppers that Pinterest and Instagram are the best sources for advertising and marketing. I have spent the last 6 months actively designing my brand and making sure that the brand goes out with everything I make. I have backing sheets that my cake toppers are stuck to for posting and business cards and stickers on boxes are a must. I have done a few courses on Instagram and Pinterest for business and am learning about the best times for posting content, finding out who my target audience is, and ensuring my products are focused on that audience. I have also joined Facebook groups where I think my target audience will be.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?

You have to love love love what you do. Running an Etsy shop is a labor of love. The next important thing is that you are running a business, so customer service and professionalism are essential. Research your product and learn who the target audience will be, write out a business plan (if only one page, this will keep you accountable). Learn, learn, learn as much as you can about running an Etsy shop, marketing, using social media to your advantage. If you don’t have a bookkeeping or accounting background, then you must learn how to price and make a profit from your items correctly.

How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?

2020 has been an enormous year with challenges and fears we have never faced before. For me, it was a turning point in my professional life. We had five weeks of lock down and in that time I was able to think, focus and I realized that what I was doing in my “main” day to day job was no longer serving me in a positive way. The lock downtime was used incredibly productively to sort me out, decide what I wanted my life to look like going forward. Working full-time in my “main” job was not in the picture, so I quit! No other job to go to other than my little Etsy shop. I was driven and focused like never before. I poured passion, commitment, and hard work into building my product line and getting my brand out there. I now define my business as completely successful because it has given me freedom – to work from home, to be creative, to grow in knowledge, and explore options I never would have before. I have taken a leap of faith and I’m so glad I did. Of course, money is important, but I am running my business from my heart and the money will follow.

Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?

If I’m not working on my Etsy store, I am working on new cake topper designs. My cake topper business on Etsy is my 9-5 job, Monday-Friday (plus weekends because I love doing it!). My day is structured like a normal workday. Children go off to school, the husband goes to work, I make a coffee and head to my office (spare room in our house) then check my shop for new orders. I prepare artwork for production for those orders. While my machines are working I’m checking Etsy and social media conversations and answering any inquiries. I always have a notepad and pen handy because ideas will hit me at the oddest times and I have to write them down asap. The afternoon is spent putting together the production run of cake toppers, printing mailing labels, packaging, and heading to the post office. I have my shop set up on my phone too so I am able to answer customer inquiries straight away, monitor orders, and send funds to my bank account even when I’m running errands. I love that my Etsy business can be flexible so that I can still communicate with my customers even when I’m not at home.

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How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?

I’m so excited about 2021 and growing my business. I have learned so much this year and look forward to putting it into practice next year. I plan to learn more about SEO and fine-tune my listings, constantly develop new products, ensure that I stay on-trend with my products. I plan to launch into Pinterest and Instagram in a huge way next year so I’m very excited about that. The biggest impact on profitability is me! I love working with paper and designing that I spend way too much time on this process. Time is money, so I will be working harder on that next year to be more time/profit productive.

Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion

I belong to a number of Etsy shop owner Facebook groups and I am so excited when a new shop owner posts that they’ve just had their very first “cha-ching” on their phone. Their first sale. It is such an exciting sound to hear and I love to see people beginning their Etsy journey. My advice to new Etsy shop owners – be patient. Your sales will come. Stick with it, keep working on your shop, keep learning about SEO, marketing, and social media. Don’t give up because the work you put in now will be so worth it. Follow your passion and your heart and success will not be far behind.


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