Interview #26: Shawna McGreevy
I’ve always loved art…ANYTHING involving art. As a kid, I would sketch just about everything I saw, just to see how “real” I could make it look. My bedroom door was covered with my sketches (well, in the spots that Joey McIntyre didn’t occupy, anyway).
Not exactly sure what to do with that “love”, I gave it up for a while and went on to college for an Elementary Education degree. After teaching 6th grade for three years, I stayed home to have and raise my four beautiful babies… who are babies NO longer! (I can NOT be that old. Not possible.)
A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at decorating a cake for my niece’s birthday… I thought it might be fun to make her something special. I got myself onto YouTube to hunt down the buttercream and fondant basics.
I was so proud of my sad, strange little cake that I guilted my family into traveling through a snow storm just to come and celebrate the party that we almost cancelled! (Ok, that makes me look kind of pathetic. Whatev. I’d do it again.)
Little did I know how absolutely addicting cake decorating is! From that day forward, I just couldn’t stop.
I loved trying out new ideas and techniques I’d researched, and baking up new and delicious recipes. I was continuously making cakes and cupcakes for family, friends, and acquaintances. And, not long after, I decided to take a leap of faith and launch a little cake company called McGreevy Cakes. (So I’d have a good, solid excuse to have fun… and spend a li’l bit o’ money on tools, of course :).
It’s been so ridiculously cool to see my cakes published in Cake Masters, Cake Central, Sweet! and Cake Geek Magazines… and to have one of my very own grace the cover of American Cake Decorating Magazine! (Whaaa ??) I’ve filmed a class for CakeMade, and one for Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School, and in March of 2014, I was invited to Sydney to teach at the Cake Bake & Sweets Show as an international sugar artist.
I have class videos available for purchase on my website, www.mcgreevycakes.com and I also run a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, filled with several free video tutorials, all on the art of cake decorating.
It’s been one heck of a ride, and a LOT of fun to pass on a little of what I’ve learned along the way. And the new friends I’ve made since I started? Priceless.
It was SO wonderful to spend time with you in Sydney in March. Do you think you will get back to Australia anytime soon?
I don’t know, but if I do, I am DEFINITELY going to search out a kangaroo. But not at the beach… ‘cause I heard they drown people. Least, that’s the rumor ‘round these parts. ;)
You’re SO down to earth and just exactly how you come across in your videos and on Facebook. Are people often surprised by this?
Nah. But I do think they keep expecting me to start busting out my Michael Jackson moves. You DO know about my moves, don’t you?
Shawna what has been your greatest challenge in Cake Decorating?
Working up the courage to actually ATTEMPT the next thing I have rollin’ around my head. Often, I just chicken out and stick to what I know. You know… hang out in my nice cozy, teeny little box.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of Cake Decorating?
Finally working up that courage I just mentioned… exploring that uncharted territory, and finding out that it wasn’t so scary after all. Heck, it was actually FUN. (Um, MOST of the time, anyway.)
Do you have a favourite cake?
No. But I DEFINITELY have ones that give me fits of terror when I look at them. Ughlll…
We all LOVE your videos and truly appreciate the time and effort you put into them for us. Can you tell us what we will see in future video tutorials?
No. But only because I’m usually just flying by the seat of my pants. But, hopefully, someday soon, I’ll trade in my pants for an actual flight plan.
Shawna, you have a beautiful young family and yet you’re so busy and very generous with your time. How do you juggle family, friends, work and traveling?
Have you ever seen a clown juggling, who just looks like a hot mess? You know, dropping balls all over the place, and sort of looking like he’s gonna pass right out? Um-hm.
How do you find the time to let your creativity flow?
Late at night, with my hubby snoring under the covers next to me, I snuggle in bed with my laptop and start cruising pictures… Pinterest, Google Images of certain ideas in my head, artwork… and let the inspiration attempt to seep in.
Your fans believe you can do ANYTHING….are you ever faced with a design that you’re not sure you can pull off?
Are my fans mentally stable? Wait a minute… you’re just making that up, aren’t you? Shoot… I’m faced with that dilemma just about every week!
Do you have any rituals or habits while you’re working on cakes?
My laptop open to my inspiration pics, with my Pandora station playing on high… and I won’t say that there aren’t a few intermissions involving my littlest pixie and me performing a little song and dance routine every now and then, when one of our favorite songs pops up. She just GETS me, that little one.
Shawna, you seem SO organised…do you procrastinate?
Organization is what keeps me on the safe side of the sanity line. When everything else is falling apart around me, if I can just stay organized, then I can at least PRETEND all is well. It’s a mental game for me, really. And yes, I am a procrastinator of the HIGHEST order. But I always leave myself enough time (the organization issue kicking in)… JUST enough time, in the end, to get the job done. ‘Cause if I don’t then I can’t even PRETEND all is well. (I realize I may be making absolutely NO sense, whatsoever, here.)
Do you have everything planned and mapped out in advance or do you wing it?
I usually go in with a plan (back to the organization issue, again) but often end up scratching it and winging it in the end.
If you couldn’t make cakes anymore, which of your many creative pursuits would you focus on instead?
I have an intense love for decorating. And interior decorating is just WAY too much fun for me. (Much to my husband’s chagrin. ;)
Shawna you’ve achieved so much, is there anything left on your Cake Bucket list?
You’re not serious. My Cake Bucket list is like, three gazillion miles long! Let’s start with “not sweating every time I’m about to attempt to model a well-known character”.
You recommend lots of fabulous cake tools for people to try, which decorating tool could you not cope without?
Hmm… that’s a hard one. Well, I AM addicted to my color shapers. I’d be dead in the water without my exacto knife. And I’m in love with my airbrush… oh wait, you said ONE.
Do you bake…do you LIKE to bake?
I bake all of my cakes. Define “like” ;) It’s not my passion, no. It’s more of a means to an end, in my mind. I don’t mind it if there’s a relatively small amount of cake required, but I’d kinda sorta rather beat my head against the wall if there’s a large amount needed. The art of designing and putting it all together is my real love.
You’re a cake idol to so many; do you have a cake idol?
Rae, I’m beginning to think your brain may be slightly addled.
And yes, I have two cake idols… the crazy fabulous Karen Portaleo, and the ridiculously amazing Mike McCarey. I luuuuurve them. LOTS.
And finally….do you dream of cake at night?
Ha! No. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cake dream. I still have nightmares about not showing up to high school classes on time ‘cause I can’t find them and don’t have any clue where I am… but nope… no cake dreams.
I think there may be something wrong with me.
Thanks SO much Shawna!!! xxx <3
Love you RAE!!
Some of the Shawna’s Cakes