Cake, glorious cake, oh how I love cake! Honestly, a slice or two of cake really has got to be my one (ok, maybe one of many!) guilty pleasures. As a novice baker myself, I know how hard baking and decorating can actually be. And trust me, I've burnt my fair share of sponge and pastry not to mention completely making a mess out of royal icing and frosting haha!
Likely we have amazingly talented cake makers to create tasty works of art for us, like today's artist Claire Owen. Claire shares an insight into her business with us today....
Tell us about your business
I set up my business as a bespoke Cake Designer six years ago. I work predominantly in the wedding industry, but since cake tends to put in an appearance at most of the big celebrations in our lives I also work on everything from Birthdays to corporate events. I develop the flavours, bake everything from scratch and design and create each cake myself from my purpose-built home kitchen. My style is varied, but I love crisp lines, sculptural forms and detailed sugar work and working with vibrant colour palettes and metallics.
What is your workflow process?
My work always starts with my customers. Everything I design is totally bespoke and whilst some people come to me asking for a cake based upon a previous design I am equally happy to create something totally new and unique. Couples come to me for a tasting consultation where they can try samples of their selected flavours and we talk about the look of their wedding cake. Some brides come with folders full of images and Pinterest boards, others with a blank canvass – both approaches work for me! I love talking to people about what inspires them, what kind of wedding they’re having – often the smallest chance remark about the wallpaper in the venue or the couple’s hobbies will be the thing that inspires the cake.
I have a fine art background so drawing is second nature to me, I use watercolours to sketch out every wedding cake I work on which really helps couples envisage what their cake will look like.
All my cakes are baked fresh as close to the event as possible and I update my menu regularly, experimenting with new flavours. With complex designs, the decorations can be made in advance and by the end of a Friday (often late at night!), my orders for the week are generally complete and ready for weekend deliveries.
I always deliver and set up wedding cakes in person. Transporting a cake is the most nerve-jangling part of my job but I LOVE the buzz of wedding preparations at the venue - florists, caterers, planners, bands - all preparing for the biggest party in two peoples’ lives. Seeing all that work and planning come together is magical.
What kind of clients do you work with?
Wedding couples who come to me are often looking for a statement cake that is unique and that will create a real focal piece at their event. Most of my customers are pretty serious about cake so the stakes are high when they sample the flavours. I have also worked with some amazing wedding planners and stylists and independent venues such as Holkham Hall in Norfolk who commission me to make highly sculptural centrepiece cakes for their seasonal events.
Where do you find inspiration?
I have an Art School training and a degree in Sculpture and I think you learn to look at the world in a different way – for me, art and design has always been a huge influence. So I find my inspiration can come from anywhere.
I am very interested in craft disciplines and how they might cross over into my cake designs. In my time I have made lace, knitted, marbled paper, made books, carved stone, embroidered, cast in bronze – these things have all seemed to have woven themselves into my cake design at some point.
I admire the work of many other cake designers, but design inspiration for me comes first from other places; pattern, architecture, fashion and different cultures – I really try not to look too hard at what other cake designers are doing.
What challenges have you set yourself for the next 12 months?
2017 was the year I said yes to everything to see where it led me, which is a somewhat rollercoaster approach to business! For the next 12 months…. I am streamlining. I am being selective about which projects I take on and I am seeking out collaborations with other creatives. I have a few projects in the pipeline including the creation of a range of artist-designed products that relate to cake, but I am also aware that my business is at a tipping point and ideas about expansion are starting to enter my planning, perhaps new premises or staff. I dream about building my own cake studio one day…..
My background is as a wedding & lifestyle photographer, shooting both digital and film to create authentic, soft and natural fine art photographs. Working primarily with natural light to give my work a beautiful, light and airy touch infused with soft tones.
I have always appreciated and valued the simple things in life and finding the interesting in the ordinary. Coco Lane was founded as I wanted to create something that is about an experience, the slower pace of life, cosiness and candlelight, cuddling up on the sofa with loved ones, being with the people you love, sharing food with close friends, a feeling of home, nurturing a chosen career, wanderlust travels, savouring the small moments in everyday life and just being you and enjoying a cup of tea.
I'm excited to bring you stories that promote all those moments in life that give us value and meaning; inspiring us to live beautifully.
"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is. Go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good" - Roald Dahl