I want to start this blog post by specifically saying "I do not know everything." I don't. I do consider myself an expert in some areas. I say this because I have researched and experimented and truly become a a master of specific topics. There is still so much for me to learn and experience. No man is an expert in everything.
I spend a good amount of time in cake groups. When I can, I offer advice. I try to only answer questions I feel confident I know for certain. I often temper the advice I give with "it's been my experience" or "what works best for me" and other clarifiers. I'm fairly well known for saying "one man's always is another man's never." For most things, this is true. There are many ways to frost a cake and 100s of other topics. I do believe there are some absolutes (like no straws, ever) but those are few and far between.
I come to you today because more and more I see some very well meaning artists offer some very bad advice. This isn't new. It's been happening for years. Just the other day, I read a gut wrenching post where someone had used some bad advice and needed help fixing her cake. It got me thinking hard about this topic.
When you ask a question on the internet, please know that not everyone who answers has knowledge or experience. In fact, some people have experience that is still bad advice. For years, I recommended SPS plates for cake structure. I used them for many years with great experience. Then, I finally realized 4 columns can not support the weight of a 4, 5 or more tiered cake. This is the same for those damn straws. People use them and have great experience... until they don't.
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer you is to check to see who is giving you advice. Are you taking business advice from someone who doesn't and has never owned a business? There are people who vehemently argue multiplying ingredients by 3 is a perfect way to price. Most of us who actually own a cake business well explain that labor is the biggest element of pricing and is typically far more than 3 times ingredients. I often wonder if anyone is looking to see which of us own a business. Are you taking advice regarding structure from someone who has only ever made single or 2 tier cakes? Are you taking advice from someone who has a vested interest in you buying their products? Someone selling the latest cake gimmick wants you to buy it! Of course they are going to tell you it works. Are you taking legal advice from anyone other than a lawyer or person in a position of authority?
The magic of the internet is that we all get to be who we want to be on it. We get to say our opinions without having to show our credentials. I urge you to know whose advice you are trusting.
I'm also going to urge you to be mindful when offering advice. Be as clear and accurate as you can. If you don't know, don't answer. If you answer and someone challenges it, take a moment to really hear them. So often we (and yes I mean me too) feel defensive and react rather than listen. Be open to new information.
Minette Rushing & I will be discussing this very topic. Join us Tuesday, July 20th at 3:00 ETD live on Zoom
Meeting ID: 486 703 2301
For those who can't join live, we will post the recording in the A Cake Workshop & The Wedding Cake Facebook Groups.