It finally happened!
Things Have Happened So Fast!
I moved to Austin on April 18th, 2014, which was Good Friday before Easter. I literally didn’t know a single person here, except for a couple of friends I had met only on Facebook, so I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet them in person until after I moved here. My only previous visit to Austin had been driving in from a visit in San Antonio for a nice dinner at Truluck’s & a bit of an adventure in the 6th Street area, so I’m told by my husband. I had two freaking martinis. Such a lightweight, ugh!
That’s all I had ever seen of Austin, until my husband, Michael, was recruited here in February of 2014, & the company wanted him to start immediately. So he found a temporary rental house on Lake Travis (*sigh*–it was so gorgeous), threw his clothes in his truck, & drove off to Texas, leaving me behind with tears in my eyes. We hadn’t been apart more than a few days since shortly after we met. But I had to stay behind to finish out my contracts I had in place with my clients & to pack up all our stuff for the move.
At the time, I owned both a personal training studio AND a cake business! I know that’s a weird combination, but I’m kind of a walking oxymoron anyway! (Some may question the oxy part!) So I had personal training clients to finish out, a slate of boot camp classes still to run, & a bunch of cakes on the schedule to finish. I was sad to leave my beloved Lake Murray & all my dear friends & clients, but I was also so excited about the move to Austin because I knew that central Texas was a HUGE cake market!
Upon his acceptance of the position here, I had a long talk with Michael. He knew that doing cakes had always been my dream, but until the cottage laws were passed, it wasn’t feasible to open a storefront. The numbers just didn’t work, & I didn’t want to do just the plain boring stuff all day. I wanted to create custom cake ART! I told him I wanted to go for it in the cake world, and asked him if he would support me as I launched an entirely new business in a place I’d never been before, so certainly I wouldn’t be making a profit for a while. He agreed, & has been SO supportive in EVERY way, including being the handsomest cake delivery boy ever! (Who is very happy to accept payment in post-delivery margaritas!) Seriously, NONE of this would be possible without Michael. He is my soul mate, my love, my staunchest support, & the one who will be brutally honest with me when I need it.
Things Got a Little Rough
The Sunday after we arrived in Austin was not only Easter, but it was Michael’s 50th birthday. I had arranged for one of my cake artist friends, Miguel Guerrero of Mad Mike’s Cakes, to make him a James Bond themed cake with a dragon crawling up the side–his two favorite things! We had planned his party to coincide with his family’s Easter celebration, so we had a joyous day planned.
Unfortunately the day took a tragic turn. My father had been in the hospital for a week. Every day they said he was about to be sent home. And the day before, they had said he was doing great & would go home for Easter. Yes, he did go home for Easter, but not to his beloved Georgia farm. He went home to Heaven instead.
On the way to San Antonio, I had called to see how he was doing, expecting happiness of him leaving to come home. Instead, my niece answered the phone and said ‘Grandpa is going to die.’ I talked to my sister Tiffany, & she said they didn’t know what had happened, but the nurses thought that two of his medications had caused a reaction & that they thought it would wear off. I tried to talk to him, & I know he could understand me, but he was unable to answer except in garbled speech. I told him how much I loved him. And I do. I’m Daddy’s little girl. Always have been, always will be.
I hung up the phone hoping the nurses were right. We drove on to San Antonio with heavy hearts & were within 10 minutes of Michael’s aunt’s house where the party was to be when my mother called. Daddy was gone. We did a U-turn & headed back to Austin, where I caught the last seat on the last plane out to Atlanta that evening. Worst day ever. I lost my Daddy, Michael’s big 50th birthday party was ruined, & we didn’t even have our second trailer of belongings yet delivered to our new house.
Cakes Were My Therapy
I was in Georgia for over a week for the funeral and the arrangements. Michael stayed a few days but had to come back to his job & to have the rest of our furniture & stuff moved in. Naturally I was devastated. I actually had planned on working up to opening my cake business for a few weeks to start things off right. But I NEEDED to make some cakes. Losing myself in the artistry of creating a cake was my therapy, my escape from the grief, & my way of coping.
So I posted a few ads on neighborhood Facebook sites, & was overwhelmed at the response. I took my first Austin cake order on May 7th, 2014, & actually had four orders that week. Of course, my first Austin cake was a Texas theme! A simple burnt orange buttercream cake got me on my way!
Who Would Have Thought?
Things took off SO FAST in my cake business, that I rarely left the house. I was a cottage baker working from home. Soon I was working 60 to 80 hours a week, all by myself, doing everything from marketing to caking to washing the NEVERENDINGOMG pans & mixing bowls. It was common for me to work til the wee hours of the morning only to start again about 5 or 6 am & work all day, especially on Fridays. Michael is gone from super early to late also, managing the company he works for, so I was very isolated in a new town where I didn’t know anyone. That got to me. About nine months after moving here I had a pretty big breakdown from sheer loneliness.
Michael told me I HAD to get out of the house for my sanity. So I began volunteering at the Thundering Paws cat rescue every Tuesday at PetSmart, plus I made a huge effort to get out & do things with the awesome Capital Confectioners Cake Club & networking events. The BEST thing that happened though was when I hired my very first Cake Minion, Jessica Swingler. Not only was she an AMAZING artist, but became an amazing friend as well, & having a friend in the house all day every day was a lifesaver! I consider ALL my Cake Minions to be friends, & I treasure them on a personal level as well as their incredible artistic contributions. My current Cake Minions are Johanna Hansen, Shanna Miller & Madison Mullinax. All are wonderful! There is no ‘I’ in ‘cake’. It takes a team!
We continued to grow. I added more Cake Minions. We were bursting at the seams in my house. Despite all the storage & space we are fortunate to have, the lack of refrigerator space & only having one oven was a huge bottleneck to how many cakes we could produce every week. Demand was exceeding supply & I hated turning down all those orders.
Moving On Up
On November 7th, 2016, 2 & 1/2 years to the day from the opening of Cakes ROCK!!! in Austin, I moved into a shared commercial kitchen. I had the best kitchen roomies ever! I shared with the Eldorado Cafe, owned by Joel & Joanna Fried, who fed me the best Mexican food ever on nearly a daily basis! We got to taste test all the items they were planning for their menu. Heaven, I tell you! In return, I fed them cake scraps, & Joel coined the terms ‘Cake Shrapnel’ & ‘Cake Roulette’, because we would dump all the flavors in one big bowl & you never knew which flavor you were gonna get!
The Eldorado Cafe moved into their own brick & mortar restaurant, & have been wildly successful! I HIGHLY recommend you go by there & indulge in Joel’s incredible food, so well-executed by head chef Esme. They were even named one of Austin’s best new restaurants! Check them out at The Eldorado Cafe Website
A huge corporate catering company moved in, & though they were super awesome people with great food, the space quickly became too small for even THEM alone, much less with me in there too! They were growing by leaps & bounds. And with the huge volume they did, they generated so much heat & humidity we started having major trouble decorating our cakes. Literally they were melting & turning to goo, & decorations would even slide right off. It became very apparent that we desperately needed to control our environment, because heat is the same enemy of cakes as it is of ice cream!
So I started my search for a space of my own, for several months. I won’t go into detail here, but it absolutely sucks in every way possible. The commercial real estate market in Austin is, well…..rough. Exorbitantly expensive & cutthroat. Being female didn’t help. I was continually patronized, not taken seriously, and once was even asked where my husband was. Yes, in 2017. UGH!!!
During this time, things really started taking off! We filmed the making of a cool cake for The Food Network, which hasn’t aired yet & honestly I’m not sure it ever will. Oh well, those things happen in the TV world. But we also filmed for the Cooking Channel on Cake Hunters, which aired on March 23, 2018. Here are a couple of clips from our segment!
We also won the ‘Glammy’ award for Austin’s Favorite Cake Artist in 2017, & Best Desserts from the Austin International Live Events Association Chapter. Things were going so well business-wise, but the problems with our space were stressing me out terribly.
But fortune shined upon me, & one of my friends called me up out of the blue. Angi was the very talented & super sweet owner of Blue Note Bakery in South Austin, & we had been friends since shortly after I moved to Austin. She said that she was ready to retire to spend more time with her two beautiful young daughters, & asked if I would be interested in her bakery. Well……YES!!!
We were able to work everything out & I took over the space. It had everything already in place & I purchased all the contents turnkey. It’s currently a cake studio by appointment only. I’m toying with the idea of a retail component, but I have several months of renovation & redecorating ahead of me before that can become a reality. It’s already a beautiful space, but of course I want to brand it in Cakes ROCK!!! style!
We are now located at 4201 South Congress Avenue, Suite #101, just south of Ben White Boulevard. I’m so excited & of course a little scared at the same time. It’s a big step, & I’ve got to make it work! I deeply appreciate all the support & hope to expand quickly to bigger & better things in the future!
We are currently open by appointment only, & our best tasting/consultation days are Mondays & Wednesdays. Other days, except Friday & Saturday, are possibly available if the schedule permits. Please visit our website at http://CakesROCK.rocks. For information & quotes, the best way to contact us is email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to create something amazing for you!
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This!