Interview with Michelle Crawford of Shell’s sweets cakes | Rochester NY’s premier bakery
I wanted to introduce you all to one of my amazing vendors, Shell’s sweets. Michelle of Shell’s sweets cakes have become a staple in our home! We’ve had her make a handful of cakes for us, Starting with our gender reveal cake in March of 2012, to Jim’s birthday cake a few weeks ago! Her cakes are gorgeous, and her personality shines through them!
Enjoy an interview with Michelle of Shell’s sweets! The first photo is of our gender reveal cake, the photo was taken by my best friend, Donna Boyle of Donna Boyle Photography. The rest of the photos were taken by Snap in Time Photography
How long have you been making cakes, professionally?
I have been decorating cakes for my family since I was young, however, I would say that I have been decorating professionally for 3 years.
What got you started with opening your bakery?
Seeing that I started out decorating cakes as a hobby it all seemed surreal to me…but honestly it was because I started having to turn people away. Since I was not New York State licensed my treats were not allowed in restaurants or reception halls. Therefore, I had to turn away customers who had First Communion parties at a restaurant and weddings held at reception halls.
I know your bakery is just your part time job/passion. Tell us about your full time job. What do you do?
My cake business is currently my part time job. During the school year I work for BOCES in the Deaf Ed Department as a sub. I either work with kids who are using Sign Language to communicate, am a Sign Language Interpreter or a note taker for a Deaf individual. It fills another love I have…using a beautiful language and working with kids.
What kind of training is required to own a bakery?
First off, in New York (and some other states) if you want to run a bakery from your home you need to be licensed. What that means is you need to have a separate kitchen. I had a contractor remodel my basement into a kitchen. You, too, have to follow the requirements that NYS has established for your kitchen. You need a three bay sink, a separate hand washing sink, etc. You need to take and pass the food safety course and then be inspected. Next is more fun, at least for me it is. You need to love to bake and create. If you are passionate about baking and are creative you have a good start. I think you also need to be good with people. If you cannot communicate and relate well with your customers, why would they want to return? This is just a skimming of what it takes. There is not one class to take for owning a bakery but is more like a conglomeration of things that gets you on your way. It’s definitely a learning process.
What are your favorite things to bake for clients?
Ooohh that’s a hard one! Cakes? Cupcakes? Cake pops? Pie pops? Haha! I think really anything that is fun! I’m always looking for new recipes and techniques. I love mixing different flavors and textures together to come up with something that taste amazing! I’m always up for something new!
How long does a cake for a cake smash take you to make, beginning to end?
It all depends on how involved the design is. From baking to decorating, I would say approximately it takes anywhere from 2-3 hours.
What about a wedding cake?
As with cake smash cakes, it all depends on how involved the design is but adds in the factor of how large the cake is and/or what else is ordered. In years past wedding cakes were typically a tiered cake. However, the current trend is to have one cake for the bride and groom to cut into and then cupcakes. Or, a trio of cakes or a dessert table to give guests a variety of choices. Although for just one wedding cake, I would say, from consultation to delivery, anywhere from 8-36 hours. This is why wedding cakes can become so expensive. It’s not just cake involved, everything else is factored in.
What are your goals for your cake business?
Honestly, I don’t know. I know that probably is shocking to some that I don’t have a set business plan and goals. The way I look at it is this cake decorating business started out as a hobby. I still marvel at the fact that people want to order from me. Not that I doubt my abilities in any way but that I am blessed by being involved in my customers’ special occasions. My outlook for the future is this if God blesses me with a store front great! I can see myself there. If He blesses me with continuing in my home based bakery great! I will be content with that too. I truly believe and rest in the fact that He is the author of my business.
If you have any baking needs, contact Michelle Shell’s sweets cakes! She is a breeze to work with and her prices are amazing for the cakes she creates! We have becoming really good friends. I promise, you won’t be disappointed hiring her to make a cake for your special occasion!