March 10, 2015
In 2003 I experienced two life changing events, I had my daughter Estelle and I bought a little cake shop called Planet Cake. At that time Planet Cake was a very small store down a suburban street in Balmain, Sydney. The shop itself was very old and cramped to work in. The consultation room was no bigger than a bedroom, the decorating room was even smaller and out the back was a very old and small domestic kitchen. Although the store had a bathroom, everyone used to go to the toilet at the pub down the road, as the toilet in the shop was too close for comfort. In fact my heart would sink every time a customer asked to use it! The store itself could only comfortably fit three people at a time, so if more than one customer turned up the second party had to wait out on the street.
Planet Cake had been operating for seven years before I bought it and the owners were making around 8-10 cakes a week, it was struggling to turn a profit and they were tired and over it. This happens when you work so long and hard in such a small space, I would be over it too. The shop itself had a space theme, bright blue walls and a cupid feature wall covered with postcards and photos. The land lady lived alone upstairs and was extremely odd, sometimes friendly and at other times absolutely feral. She was also an alcoholic, we knew this because of the over flowing recycling bin which was so full of wine bottles we needed to help her with getting her bin onto the street each week.
It may be difficult to comprehend now but at the time I bought Planet Cake there were only four real cake decorating businesses in Sydney. Decorated cakes were fairly unpopular and to sell a decorated cake was extremely difficult, the average price that people would be willing to spend on a wedding cake back then was around $300. It would be a long road to making Planet Cake successful, and my friends and family thought that I was quite possibly making the biggest mistake of my life. However I had a dream, and in my heart I knew it was going to work, it just took a lot longer than I expected, and became a lot bigger than I ever hoped!