Amy: First off can you tell us how Love In Bloom Cakes got started?
Belle: “There’s a bit of a history with that. So I just got here (Canada) two and a half years ago. I was born and raised in the Philippines. And my husband, he moved there in 2007. He was born and raised here, and then he moved to the Philippines in 2007 to try to play pro basketball. At that time I was working on TV. I used to be a dancer and singer on TV. Yeah, it’s funny. I always think it’s funny. Then we met, and after that I left the show. I worked there for about 6 years. I left and studies Culinary and Baking/Pastry Arts (in the Philippines) and when I was in school, I didn’t like baking. The first half of the school was just Culinary, and when it was time for baking I was like “uhhh. I don’t want this anymore, I like the cooking more.” So I missed a lot of classes, I didn’t go to a quarter of my classes. Then I graduated, and I worked at restaurants and hotels in the Philippines, as a chef. I didn’t really do any baking at all. Then, when I moved here in September of 2014. By October I had already gotten a job, and it’s in a bakery. And I was like “Okay, maybe I’ll give this a try.” The bakery was in Stouffville, and that’s where I fell in love with it again. I like the art part of it, and I enjoy the late hours of working *laughs* I’m not sure why… I can’t say I really enjoy it, but after everything, seeing the finished product is really great. After the bakery, I thought “maybe I can start my own bakery” just online, from people that I know. And then I started with just cupcakes, and cookies. After that in 2016, I made my very first wedding cake and it just went from there. Now I’m mainly doing wedding cakes, and I like it better.”
Amy: What makes LIBC unique compared to other cake/bakery studios?
Belle: “I guess it’s because everyone’s baked from home–for now. My style is simple, I won’t say that I’m in one category. But I just feel like what I do with the cakes, it’s just who I am. When I sketch it for a client, and they say “oh this is the design that I like”. I always tell them “I don’t copy cakes, I can make that vision, but combined with my personal style.” I don’t really know the name for my personal style yet, but it’s in the realm of being rustic. Simple, chic, and I think my cakes speak for who I am as a person.”
Amy: “I also think they’re timeless. I think when your clients look at their wedding photos 20 years from now, they’ll still love their cakes.”
Belle: “Yeah, as much as possible I don’t want to be compared to another baker, or design. I want to make sure it’s unique. Sometimes clients will come in and say “Oh, I want this cake that you did before. Can you make a replica of that?” And I’ll tell them that I’ll make another version of that for you. But it won’t be exact.”
Amy: What’s your favourite part of doing wedding cakes or treats? Or baking in general?
Belle: “For the wedding cakes, I like the cake tasting part. When I finally meet the couple, and talk about their love story, and how they met. You can just see there’s so many different characters in the world. It’s just amazing that you can see this couple is hip, and this is their vision, and it’s completely different to another couple whose style is more vintage. I just love to see the different visions of each couple. My favourite part is after 13 hours of working…working from 3am to 12 noon, and then you see the finished product. You see the people’s reaction when picking up their cakes and they say “Oh this is so beautiful, I love this.” and that really fills up my heart. That’s my favourite part.”
Amy: What is your favourite cake style? (Natural, modern, classic?)
Belle: “My favourite style is mostly on the smaller scale. As much as possible when clients ask me “Can you do a 6-tier cake, but half of them are dummy cakes.” I can do that, as much as possible I want to cater to what my client wants. But that’s not really what I love. The style I like is making all edible cakes in a smaller scale. Because as a person, I hate pretension. I want everything to be real. So, I think my favourite style is smaller scale cakes with simple designs. Of course, I love working with fresh flowers. I think I may have a thing for flower arranging.. haha.. I want to take a class. I think that would help with what I do with my cakes. So yeah, smaller scale cakes, with fresh flowers are my thing.
Amy: Who is your ideal wedding client?
Belle: “My ideal clients for wedding are the people who just give me the freedom to do whatever. They’ll tell me that they want a three tier cake, their colours are gold and white with some greeneries and you decide the rest. Then I can make their cake without any limitations.”
Amy: Can you walk us through the process of helping a couple choose the colour scheme, specific type of cake and/or baked goods for their day?
Belle: “So when they email me and inquire, I’ll ask them if they have sample pictures of the elements that they want in their cake. So I can have a vision of what they want, and make them a quote. After I make the quote, we proceed to the cake tasting. And at the cake tasting we talk about the design more. At the cake tasting I ask what their colours are, specific flowers they’re using, so the cake florals make their wedding florals. And after that I’ll sketch them a design, and show them my ideas based on their ideas for their wedding. When they approve, we proceed. And if they don’t I’ll sketch another one, until they are happy with it.”
Amy: What do you think is the biggest influence for a couple’s decision on wedding cakes?
Belle: “I feel like my clients are the ones that don’t use wedding planners. They are hands-on, do it yourself kind of couples. Which is really cool that they want to involve themselves in the planning. When they inquire with me, they mostly know what they want already and I just enhance it. I’ve had some clients before who were still thinking about getting cakes, but then stumble upon my Instagram and decide on getting a small one. I think when they come to me, they already know what they want. I think some people are influenced by seeing something they really like, and deciding they can have that thing on a smaller scale.
Amy: How soon would you suggest couples to contact you for their custom cakes?
Belle: “When couples come to me, and their wedding isn’t till next year…I really like that. I like that they’re doing everything early. I’ve had a client before and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to book right away. And now they’re like “Belle, you’re right, we’re rushing everything now. And we still have to change all these things..and it’s only a few months away.” I think the earlier the better.
Amy: How much time do you usually need to do the cake tasting, the sketch, and completion? Do you have a normal time frame?
Belle: “It depends when they want it. I always ask them to come when they’re ready. Since they give half the deposit at the cake tasting, I want them to be ready. I’ll always warn them when my months are getting busier with other clients to make sure their cake is ready on time.”
Amy: What’s the biggest trend you’ve seen coming for 2017/2018?
Belle: “You know, I honestly don’t search for trends. I’ve done some styled shoots, which I love doing. But if the organizer of the shoot tells me the theme, I’ll go with the theme. But then I see something that I realize is the on-going trend for cakes this year..I’ll do the opposite. Even without the cakes, just in life. I’ll do the opposite. As much as possible, I want to go against the majority. I honestly don’t know what the trends are. With my cakes, I just do what I feel like doing”
Amy: What is the one wedding trend you’d like to see go?
Belle: “I’m not sure. I think more couples now are going the opposite direction, and are doing non-traditional things. Most of my clients are the non-traditional ones. So I don’t notice many trends”
Ray (Belle’s husband) chimes in: “Can I add something? I think one tradition that couples do is want to keep their cake a year after. They freeze it and keep it, and eat it on their first anniversary. So what my wife does, which is a great idea that she came up with.. is she offers a new cake on their first anniversary. Since it might go bad, or not taste the same in the freezer. Especially since she adds flowers and fruits. I think that’s one thing that she encourages, instead of keeping the cake for a year.”
Belle: “Yeah, that’s my little gift to them.”
Amy: What is your best piece of advice for a couple just starting their planning process? Especially since you’re married.
Belle: “You really don’t know what’s going to happen. For us, we got married in the Philippines civilly in April 2012. We planned our church wedding for January 2013. So we had almost 6 months to plan everything. We planned everything really really fast. We couldn’t believe it. His mom went home for our civil wedding, and while she was there in the Philippines with us, that’s when we booked the venue, the photographer, the food, everything. And we were done in less than a month. We gave all our deposits already. But then around September we found out his mom has breast cancer, and she couldn’t make it to the wedding anymore. So we decided to cancel the church wedding. So my advice is.. The sooner you do it the better. Because anything can happen, you don’t know what will happen. But with the planning, you just have to have fun doing it. Nothing is going to be perfect. With Brides I find that they want everything to be perfect, and when it doesn’t go as planned they get upset. I think for you to enjoy the process of planning you have to have fun while doing it, and not stress. What I tell my clients when they come for a tasting is “Oh, it’ll be a good mini date for you guys! After you guys can walk down Main Street.” I always tell them when they come over for a tasting that it’s not a time to be stressed, or to be forced. I want them to have fun, and enjoy it, and feel at home, like it’s your home.”
Amy: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur and would pass along to others that are just getting started?
Belle: “I think you can’t stop. You’re not allowed to stop. You can take a short break, but you have to keep on thinking of something. You can’t just sit down at home and wait for someone to ask you how much a cake will be, or for them to ask you to make their wedding cake. You have to reach out, and I’m guilty of this too, because moving here…english is not my first language. And in general, I’m not really sociable. I enjoy being alone, or with a handful of people I know. So networking for me is hard at first. I’m just learning it now. With the business, especially in the wedding industry you can’t be like “Oh! I made wedding cakes”. And just focus on your cakes. You can’t. You have to connect with a photographer, a wedding planner, a florist. I have to be apart of a team, or a community. And that’s something that I’m learning. I meet with other people, and when I see people looking for a cake for a styled shoot I hop in and say “Oh, I can help!”. I think that’s another thing, you can’t just sit and wait. You have to work really hard. You can’t be isolated, you have to network with other people, and enjoy the process of that.
Belle is a Toronto based Cake Designer & Creator. You can view more of her work on Instagram or Facebook.