Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This week has been really hectic with lots of fantastic developments & cakes! Margie and I will be appearing on the Morning Show tomorrow (Channel 7) at around 11am to do a cupcake demonstration and chat about the new Planet Cake Cupcake book! It should be fun; I hope you have the chance to tune in.

This Week at School

Today and tomorrow Jessica Pedemont is teaching Basics 105 (2 T Stencil). Jess is only new to teaching this class but the results so far have been outstanding. Jess herself said to me that this was the best class she had ever taught and she enjoyed it immensely, there will be photos to follow, but if the last class was anything to go by I know they will be brilliant. This is one teacher who is exciting to watch!

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday Linda Harden will be teaching Basics 106 (springtime), the grand mother of all workshops, this cake transforms students into colleagues as they complete the odyssey of designing, constructing and executing this monster cake shape. This includes covering a 3 tier base, making roses and peonies, using a centre pole and most importantly managing time! Linda is a kind and patient teacher and a talented cake decorator, I know that students will enjoy this class.

Self Confidence

Every week I try to take the opportunity to offer my thoughts about the questions I get asked most often. This week I wanted to talk about self confidence. This is an issue at all levels, and it is lack of confidence that I find is behind most of the problems brought to me such as pricing, business success, dealing with request from friends and family etc.

Newbie’s to cake decorating almost always feel self conscious as it can be daunting to be in classes decorating in front of others and having their work ‘judged’.

Professional cake decorators starting their own business often loose confidence as they go from being a serious hobbyist to charging money for their cakes.

Senior professional decorators often feel insecure that their work may be compared to other very talented decorators or that they may fail when working in a genre that is not their strength, for example novelty

There is not a decorator alive who has not has periods of insecurity about their abilities, their cakes prices or their areas of technical weakness. But from my experience there are a number of ways to build confidence and keep it.

1. Invest in proper training: Planet Cake, Online Video, Via Books etc. Continuous training will empower you with knowledge, skills, techniques and feedback. Every single great cake decorator I know continually reinvests in their training.

2. Join a community: Online, Tea Party at Planet Cake, Flickr, Facebook, Set up a group or join a group in your area. I know that through the T-Party a group has been organized and is flourishing in Brisbane.

3. Do not compare yourself, EVER to other cake decorators; it’s a waste of time. The only opinions that should matter to you are yours (most important) your teacher and your customers. If those 3 are satisfied there is no need to compare yourself to the Angelina Jolie’s of the cake decorating world, it just makes you feel awful!

4. Focus on what you are good at, if you are hopeless at making figurines just tell people you don’t make them and refer them to a cake decorator that does. If you love piping then make sure all of your designs are piped. Always direct your cake designs where you are strongest. There is not a single cake decorator at Planet Cake that does every cake brilliantly, in fact some are down right awful with some cakes and they would be the first to admit it.

By the law of probabilities someone is not going to like your cake and a customer will complain. Understand that not everyone has taste and that we should feel compassion for those that have no idea about our wonderful world…yes arrogance helps. Then go to your community and commiserate, get some more training to build confidence and use your judgment to work out whether it was a subjective opinion or whether your cake was lacking. Just know that you are not alone and don’t let is ruin the joy of cakes!

I love to hear what you think so you can email me paris@planetcake.com.au or just make a post here. It is always you guys that give me the ideas for the next big THING!!

Enjoy making your cakes, make them for you, inspire yourself, take time to smell the cake and taste the cake, languish in icing colors, have fun, create whimsy and smile! Your cake will be making someone very happy and as such you will have done a noble deed, one more for your karma bank!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The week of cupcakes, using someone elses cake designs and sick kids in a busy week of cakes, urrrgghhh!

Running Planet Cake is always filled with excitement, people and beautiful cakes which I thrive on, but at times it can also be a challenge just getting everything done. I had one of those weeks this week with my daughter Estelle (see above)sick with tonsillitis, my partner in the middle of his exams and Planet Cake just being Planet Cake. I must admit the closest the family has come to a home cooked meal this week is a BBQ chicken for dinner! I often allow myself to have a pity party at least once in a week like this (I am not a saint) and think about a parents lot, when you have to make a decisions like should I shave my legs or read a bedtime story? I only have time for one or the other!

This week it is with great sadness that I said goodbye to Juncheng our Student Liaison Officer. It will be very hard to fill Juncheng’s shoes but until we find a replacement I am happy to answer your queries!

(this post has been expanded and edited due to some great feedback from a reader)

This week we have been running our Intermeadiate Intensive week long workshop at Planet Cake and I have been asked by a number of students the same question so I thought I would answer it here for anyone else that is wondering.

Can we copy Planet Cake's designs?
The short answer is YES you can, for me there is no issue with copying our designs regardless of the source as long as Planet Cake is credited either with being the inspiration or the source of your design. You might be aware that I actually credited fellow cake decorator Hello Naomi for inspiring one of the designs in the book. I also asked her permission which she was happy to give. I think at the end of the day its about manners!

What if a decorator uses my cake design or photos and claims it as their own?


Rihanna’s cake below was designed by Antony Bullimore at Planet Cake, the team at Planet Cake made it and Rihanna cut it. But Adam has made a copy (it happens to be our copy), all that is changed is the name on the side of the cake.

Can we defend our rights to the cake design? No, because legally the cake design is not registered as a design. We don’t own the rights to the zebra print, the exploding stars is a common cake design, and as for the bling this will change with every cake anyway.

So what do we do with our feelings?
Despite all the facts and people saying "its a compliment" you do feel morally and ethically outraged!! Come up with your own ideas!! Despite how childish this is I think most designers feel upset, designs are very personal.

How do I respond? I Let it go……. If you try and defend yourself you will sound like a raving lunatic (I have been there). The only satisfying act that I do enjoy is if the opportunity arises (for example if a client brings a copy of your cake) show or email the original cake against the copy. The difference is almost always obvious, and at the end of the day everyone respects an innovator not an imitator.

I would never recommend making the issue public. Please remember to take the higher ground, maaking posts on your blogs and facebook about design theft guess what? Makes you look like a raving lunatic. its not fair, but at the end of the day our reputation and character is more important than a cake design, think of how April Reed must feel? I think half the cake decorators in the world have magpied her designs.

The only exception to this rule for me is when a competitor starts to imitate or replicate business identity (logo website etc) or intellectual property such as pricing etc. I had a very good friend come to me in the industry and this is currently happening to her after spending 5 years building a strong brand in the market. This form of theft in my opinion is serious and is obviously a threat to someones livelihood; I do recommend registering your logo and other important identity related designs with IP Australia. http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/designs/apply_index.shtml

I was delighted to host a morning tea today for a wonderful group of women, the idea being to throw around some ideas and talk about cake decorating and running cake decorating businesses. The same old topics got a good thrashing but we never tire of pricing, clients and the dreaded council. Thank you ladies for coming and sharing your stories.

This week has been chocker and I have been excited catching up with our wonderful teachers and facilitators. The results have been spectacular, the teachers and students have all had a fantastic time.

MELBOURNE - Adam Cremona – Novelty 101, Basics 101, Basics 103
SYDNEY - Linda Harden – Intermediate Intensive. Basics 104 (three tier round)
SYDNEY - Anna Maria – Intermediate Intensive. Basics 106 (springtime)

Photos: Anna Maria, Linda, Betty, Adam

I am not sure if many of you have met Betty, but she is my right hand woman, not only that she can decorate a cake although she swears she cannot, for evidence of lying see the Lipstick, but she is a great organizer. This week Betty has been assessing the applications for our Opera House Cake project (it is not to late to apply), winning applicants will be announced on the 1.12.10. http://planetcakeupdate.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-apply-to-for-2011-australia-day.html.

It was very exciting for students to have Margie Carter come and judge their cupcakes at the end of a Masterchef style cupcake competition. Margie was the biggest contributor to Planet Cake Cupcakes book and provided all of the illustrations. Margie had a ball as the students had made their cupcakes even more gruesome than we ever intended. Working with someone like Margie is an honor as her talent is unsurpassed. It was a unique opportunity for students to meet her.

Have a beautiful and Zen week of cake decorating and remember to be playful don’t ever loose your sense of humour; there is no point arguing with your cake!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Planet Cake Cupcakes BOOK TOUR

This week has been tiring but so wonderful, I am sure it has been for you as well if you are decorating cakes! We have received lots of positive feedback about the book Planet Cake Cupcakes and I really liked spending time with the team (Margie, Adam, Adina, Danielle and Jess) on the road for the book tour. Here is photo of us arriving at Brisbane airport at 6am and a coffee was definately in order after a 4am start, same for Melbourne. I gave Dermalogica hydration mask a work out, not sure it worked. While looking through the photo library this morning, I found this photo of the staff…I knew I should be spending more time in the office, jokers extraordinaire these guys, must be the sugar! I also have a confession to make, at the Brisbane book launch I stole a baby, his darling mother was eager to get him back but its too long since I have held a baby and those chubby legs pull me in every time, I apologize! Enjoy the week, remember no cake will ever be 100% perfect and just laugh, you are all perfectionists, and luckily your audience isn’t!!

Book Launch Tour: The Planet Cake team went on the road to visit Brisbane and Melbourne where we met nearly 200 wonderful attendees. It was a delight to be able to meet and get to know so many faces. The program involved some words from me about the book, cake decorating and the future trend of cupcakes. Then cupcake decorating with the incredible and elusive Margie, Adam,Adina, Jessica and Danielle using three designs from the book, teaching the techniques of modeling, faces and painting. There were some great results and lots of people setting up their own cake decorating business’ which was really exciting.

Paris Prediction: The cupcake craze has been going full steam for quite a while in Australia, however I had the opportunity on the Book Launch tour to ask people what the demand was for cupcakes and their findings were the same as mine. There has been a fall in cupcake requests for Weddings and Corporate, however an increase in other areas. Cupcakes are being taken to the limit in terms of design and many home decorators were doing much better than large commercial cupcake business’, however there will also was be exceptions….this photo of Sprinkles cupcakes in the USA, they are delicious.

My faourite cake of the week:
Was this gorgeous cake by Anna Maria and Antony stole the show in my opinion, but my eagle eye found a fault, in the interests of training your own eye…can you see it? Not enough to undermine the cake but enough to irritate the perfectionist in us all!

It’s true I will be brining a full day Biz Whiz (business workshop for cake decorators) to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney – Check courses website for further details.In conjunction with the Biz Whiz courses I will also be running morning teas, at no cost. Just a gaggle of 20 cakes decorators and me, so keep your eyes peeled for details, I know the Sydney one is full;0(

Next week:
will be hectic, photo shoots, working our way through the upcoming Kids Express, Cupcakes Olympics event. 200 corporate contestants killing each other Masterchef style in Sydney with each team making 200 cupcakes in 2 hours, not that easy if you have never decorated before. We also have Foundation course running next week. Whoa I love meeting the students on the beginning of a journey that changed my life; it’s nice to get excited again about cake decorating all over again!!

Have a great week beautiful decorators, remember to hop onto Facebook and keep up to date, also you can ask question to me directly through the Planet Cake tea party http://www.planetcaketeaparty.com.au/redirect.php?r=4

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paris is back!


Well after a bit of a hiatus I must say it's great to be back here in the blogging hotseat, here to delivery the freshest news and juciest goss, direct from the horses mouth!

It's been one of those crazy weeks here at Planet, the kind that has you simultaneously pulling your hair out (luckily I started the week with the most fabulous blow dry I've had in ages) and loving life. With well over 20 cakes in production this week there have been some slightly hectic moments but it has been so fantastic and inspirational to see the place pumping with my super-talented and creative team. Go PC!

While there were so many to chose from, I have to say my favourite cake of the week was this ENORMOUS $1 coin cake we made for the Royal Australian Mint. This was a serious undetaking, and no, I have to admit it is not ALL cake, with most of it being made from styrofoam (otherwise our delivery driver Carlos would have had kittens trying to get it out the door!)

This morning we kicked off our very first book launch..Woooo Hoooo... and as always it was great to have the chance to meet so many of our loyal fans. Ah, a day of books and cupcakes, could it get any sweeter? I can't wait to do the same thing again in Brisbane and Melbourne later this month. There are still limited spaces available in both states so if you're interested in grabbing a copy of the book and trying your hand at cupcake decorating, just visit our online course page.


Speaking of meeting our fans, as of November I will be hosting monthly Morning Tea Parties and I would like to extend a cordial invitation to all of you. Once a month, myself and 20 cake lovers will gather here in Balmain to sit back and chat about cake, the universe and everything over a cuppa and, well of course cake. To come along, just email the lovely Cat here in our office on: info@planetcake.com.au

2011 NEWS

While you may be familiar with our Basics and Novelty marathons, next year we will be introducing the very first ever Sugar Flowers Marathon. The series will include:

- Wedding flowers
- Whimsical flowers
- Tropical flowers
- English flowers and
- Beginners flowers

and we will of course, be employing the help of Brisbane's Amazing Greg Cleary. Sorry guys we don't have the exact dates locked in yet so online registration still isn't open, but keep an eye out on the website over the next couple of months.

In other school news, it is with much regret that I announce th closure of our Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth school for the duration of 2011, as we undertake extensive teacher training here in Sydney. Don't worry guys, it's certainly not goodbye, we will be back bigger and better in 2010!

Now after one full-on week, I must admit that I will be celebrating, bubbly in hand, at an intimate family gathering to celebrate 13 months of (very) hard work on the new book. Check me out revelling in these fresh-off-the-press copies of Planet Cake Cupcakes.