• Jen Hettenhouse

The Friends And Family Discount



My daughter standing proudly next to her first successful baked goodie...

Let me start off by saying I simply love my friends and family. If not for them, I would not be here today. They are my greatest support system. They are the ones who thought I had talent when I was horrible (and let me tell you, I WAS horrible!) They are the ones who sampled all my goodies, even the burnt ones, and gave me honest assessments. They are the ones who gagged at the overly salty buttercream and made the scrunched up sour faces as I over flavored that one lemon cake. The entire time, they never stopped believing in me or my dream.


Can you believe this cake? My poor family...

I truly cannot express how thankful I am that they have held fast in their belief in my potential. I spent years making them free cakes, each one getting better than the last. Each one costing me time and supplies. At first, I was only making a couple a year and I did not notice how much it was costing me. After all, that is what you do for family, right? At first, it was no big deal. Really. Three cakes a year. And then my sister started having more children. And my best friend was getting married. And my mother knew someone who was having a baby shower. And my kid needed cupcakes at the school and since I am the baker in her class, would I bring 3 dozen? I sat down in early 2017 and started pouring over the receipts from the previous year on how much all this was costing me. I knew a cake would take me anywhere from 3 to 18 hours start to finish. So I knew my time going into these cakes. And I started to look over how many cakes I was making. I was shocked to learn that in 2016, I spent over $2500 in ingredients and supplies for my family and friends. When you break it down, it was roughly $200 a month. Plus my time. My husband and I were struggling financially hard during this time frame after multiple hospital stays. Every penny mattered. So learning I was spending so much on my hobby each month was sickening. Especially considering I had just told my daughter I could no longer afford her going to Taekwondo. If you are not aware, her dream is to be in the Olympics. Something had to give. And immediately. That year, my sister asked me for cakes for her three boys. I told her it would cost her. She was shocked. I got guilt tripped and screamed at and called pretty wretched names for not being willing to make my nephews three cakes free of charge. When it came time for the party, I brought them their gifts and she had a Wal-Mart cake that the boys greatly enjoyed. They could care less about it being a cake from me or from Wal-Mart. My mother knew someone who was getting married and wanted to throw a bridal shower. She wanted me to make the cake. I told her I would, for a fee. Shock was clearly written across her face. She ended up buying from a local baker and ended up with "the driest, most tasteless cake ever" according to her own words. I started questioning local bakers on their prices, started doing math, started shopping around, and in mid-2017, I sold my very first cake for $75. I was shocked someone paid me $75 for an 8" round. A really pathetic looking round at that.


My first commissioned cake. Someone actually PAID for this!

I decided to up my game and start working on my decorating skills. If I want people to pay me, I need to be able to provide something they cannot provide. YouTube University and I became best friends. Hours upon hours upon hours. Dull video after dull video and buttercream rose looking more like a cabbage than a rose over and over again. Finally, in February 2018, I sold my second cake. This time, for $125. And I realized something...I can do this. But ONLY if I charge a reasonable price to account for not only my ingredients, but time as well.


I felt much better about selling this one

In 2018, I sold over 100 cakes. Pretty good for a start up fledgling business. Every time I got an order, I would excitedly call my mother, proclaiming that I got another order. Every time my mother would ask who was buying from me and every time my response was, "I don't know! A stranger!" My mother was floored that people were paying me full price. I was charging by the slice per the Wilton wedding guide, which meant my 8" was running anywhere from $90 or more. And not only were people paying this price, they were doing it without question, and often times, tipping me. When my mother finally asked about how I was getting orders, I explained the following out to her. The conversation was similar to the below: ME: I make a luxury item that is highly customized. Not everyone can afford custom items, much less luxury custom items. It is like buying a customized wedding dress from a seamstress vs buying from David;s Bridal. People who want luxury and custom will pay for it. Those who do not, will find cheaper options. My product is worth the price, my clients have proven that to me time and time again. I run by word of mouth, which is the greatest compliment I can get from my clients. I don't advertise and I still get orders. That means I am doing something right. MOTHER: What about discounts to your family and your friends? ME: I can't. I know more of you than I know strangers. If I keep giving you all free or steeply discounted cakes, I will never make profit. My cakes are what are keeping my child in Taekwondo. My cakes are what is helping her live her dream. I don't do discounts because discounts do not pay the bills. MOTHER: Well, I cannot afford your prices, so you should think of me from time to time and make me a cake. ME: I think of you all the time. I would not be here today if not for your advise and your help and support. You helped my dream come true. But to keep it a reality, I have to treat my business like a business and not like a charity. If I am working on a new flavor, I absolutely will give you a call. But Mom, not everyone can afford a luxury cake. And that is okay. Support me in other ways. Hand out my business cards, tell people about me, share my social media posts. But please do not ask me to make a free or discounted cake. You cannot afford my prices...and I cannot afford to give my cakes away. My mother never asked for a free cake again. She in fact, went to an event with me and helped promote me like no other. That weekend, she came out on Friday. She watched me make apples spiced cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, pumpkin spice cupcakes, and coconut cupcakes. I made a caramel cake and I made homemade caramel frosting. I made coconut frosting, cream cheese frosting, vanilla frosting, chocolate frosting, mocha frosting. I had to box up 100 boxes of cupcakes. I had to decorate a cake for a client, I had to run a booth at an event, and I still had to squeeze in a cake tasting. My mother was there every second of it. And it blew her mind. She had never before been involved. She saw me start at 7am and stay up until 4am Friday night and then be ready to rock and roll by 7am Saturday morning as we loaded the car. My day was not over until nearly 8pm Saturday. I still remember her looking at me and saying, "You make me so proud. I had no idea what you do. You are fabulous. You are right, you ARE worth the cost!"

This past weekend, I had a friend stop by to order a cake from me. I'll be honest, I was apprehensive to accept the order as it would be the first time to charge a friend. But, as he was placing his order and received my quote, he said to me, "Now, this includes the friends and family discount, right?" I was heart broken as I was fixing to tell him that I don't do discounts when he cut me off with, "I mean it. give me the friends and family discount. Charge me $50 more than the final cost. If friends and family do not support your business, no one will. You are worth every penny." You know what? He's right. And I couldn't be prouder that he was my friend than that moment right there. So do I offer a discount to my friends and family? As of today, only if they ask. It is going to cost you $50 more though.

#discount #cakecosts #friends #family

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Buford, GA   ***BY APPOINTMENT ONLY***

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