Interview #6: Tracey Louise Harvey from Little Cherry Cake Company
I’m a 24 year old mum of 2 in love with all things cake, gaming, movies, 80’s, rock music, horror, cartoons, cherries, skulls, photography, and generally cool geeky stuff. You will also notice I use the word ‘awesome’ alot.
I’m dead easy to get on with (unless you are very serious and have an answer for everything ;) lol) laid back, loyal, always have something going on (much to the annoyance of my stressed out other half) a little ditsy, under-confident, fun-loving and I giggle…..lots!
Getting married to my best friend and cleaner-upper on the 2nd September this year in a zoo….and before you ask, yes Im making my own cake ;)Interview
1. How did you first get started with cake decorating?
I had my first taste of cake decorating at about 12-13 years old. I made my mum a birthday cake, it was a two tier (without any supports in it!) covered in white fondant, piped borers, silver dragees and silk red roses plonked on. It was horrid – but I was chuffed with what I had achieved at the time!
My Nan was the local cake maker but as she died when I was still young I didn’t really catch the ‘cake decorating bug’ from her or learn anything. If she was still alive I would have been a kick-ass royal icing expert by now!
After that, any sort of free-reign project we got in cookery class at high school, I would make a cake whilst others were whipping up pizzas, burgers and spag bol. It started to get addictive!
I had to take years out inbetween though when I had my two kids (age 6 and age 2) – the smell of baking cake turned my stomach! So technique progress was pretty slow for me, it was like being back at square one each time I approached decorating again!
2. Why did you decide to decorate cakes?
I didn’t really decide, after making my first proper ‘novelty’ Spongebob cake for my brothers birthday everything just boomed, and suddenly I was in demand from family and friends.
Check out that black piping! I’ts probably the neatest I’ve ever done ha ha. I don’t pipe at all now, me and a piping bag don’t get on :)
After this followed lots of other novelty cakes and I bought my first decorating books by Debbie Brown with any spare dinner money I had saved from skipping dinner at school!
3. What are some things you do differently now than when you first started decorating?
I have a few extra tools than when I started, but its taken me over 10 years to save up and buy them lol.
I used to use my Nan’s old baking tins, my bare hands and cocktail sticks, and to this day they are still my most prized tools (well I replaced the tins lol)
Whatever money I made on one cake got saved and spent on more tools, I bought my cake tins one by one, I got the cheapest sugarcraft tools I could find (which I still use) and my other half Adam saved for months to buy me a KitchenAid, which I named Alfie :)
I still don’t have the other fancy tools yet like airbrushes, dangly crystal cake stands or cricut machines so I’ll have to make a few more cakes to save up for those :)
But it just shows you CAN decorate cakes with just your hands and a few household items, I did for years! It allows you to become more creative.
Other than having more tools I don’t think I do anything any differently, I STILL get a little stressed when things don’t go right, BUT at least I’ve mastered the FMM Tappits, I used to launch those across the kitchen when they wouldn’t come out blush
4. What has been your greatest challenge?
Hmmmm, my greatest personal cake challenge was getting two separate cakes down to London in one piece for a competition on Channel 4. Nervous isn’t a strong enough word for what I felt, it was live, I was shaking like a leaf on camera, and they didn’t tell us one of the judges was Jane Asher….yeah I nearly wet my pants.
This was the second cake for the show:
I have a story about it here too from 2011:
My biggest cake-making challenge was a recent one. An 8" cake balancing on a 14" high pole to be made into a Tangled Tower, the overall height was 2 and a half foot high and it needed to survive transport lol I still don’t know how I managed it but here it is:
and progress pictures etc:
5. What is the most rewarding part of cake decorating?
That’s easy! The people.
Customers, fellow decorators and general public who appreciate the ‘art’.
Nothing gets me more excited than a customer coming with a ‘theme’ and we have a big geeky talk over it on what we could do. Especially if its one of the interests listed in my biography! I get waaay too excited and start squealing like a piglet.
Then when they come to collect, their eyes light up and they gush over how much they love it. Knowing I have made something that they love and cant wait to take to their ‘event’ makes me all warm inside :) Some cake collections I will never forget.
Then the fellow cake decorators, most of them are nothing but helpful and have become amazing friends over the internet, even though we will probably never meet in person. Don’t let a few rotten apples spoil the cake decorating community for you, they really are an amazing bunch x
6. What are your favorite cake decorating tools?
:D my hands! Might seem totally obvious but you don’t need majorly expensive fan-dangled equipment to make something nice.
Though I do love my ball tool, and to make life easier Alfie my KitchenAid has been a god send after going through 13 handmixers.
My other favourite ‘tool’ is my partner Adam :D He is abit like Noo Noo from the Teletubbies, who walks around at the back of me trying to clean my incredible mess.
7. Which one of your cakes is your favorite?
You can’t ask that! lol
Hmm I have no idea, they are all favourites for different reasons!
Heres a few I am quite proud of:
8. Could you give some tips to people who have just started decorating cakes or would love to start?
Yes! Try and learn one thing at a time, trying to learn too much too soon may leave you disheartened. Attend a class if money allows! I attended my very first class only this year, and even though I already knew most parts, there are always little hints and tips that you can take on board. Also the cake decorator ‘etiquette’ which I didn’t know about when I started. If you took inspiration from another cake please say so underneath a picture IF possible. Its not essential, but you can bet you will be praised for it and you will be setting off with the best foot forward. Its just a nice thing to do and lots of us cake decorators really appreciate it.
And remember, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on the latest gadgets, there are always home-made options :)
9. How did you find CakesDecor.com and what is it that keeps you coming back?
Hmm Im pretty sure it was Peggy Does Cake! lol
I come back because its the the easiest site to use ever – Its clean and straight to the point. Everyone is friendly, I haven’t come across conflict here yet which is AWESOME! and reading the lovely comments on peoples cakes makes it a happy place to be.
10. What’s been the biggest surprise in all of this for you?
The response! When I was baking with my Nans old baking tin in my mums kitchen I never thought today I would have my cakes on TV, in magazines, shared around the internet and be an interviewee on an awesome cake website!
I know everyone is critical of their work, me more than most. So when things like this come up I always seem to ask myself why!? Why do people like my stuff so much!? I still don’t know the answer, and probably never will but all I can say is that I’m INCREDIBLY LUCKY. The floods of comments I get on my facebook page (www.facebook.com/littlecherrycakecompany) still blow me away everytime. People are so lovely – I don’t see it as a business page, Its like my little cake family.
That 13 year old’s determination is still in me too, I scrimped and saved for books, and equipment to make myself a better decorator, except now I’m using the new cake skills to scrimp and save for a better life for my little family and move out of my tiny council house – where hopefully I will have awesome kitchen space, and earn enough to pay some staff. My ultimate goal is to have a little cake studio full of awesome cakey friends who just have a blast together like they do on ‘Ace of Cakes’. There are so many decorating friends I would have on my ‘team’, it wouldn’t feel like a job at all ;)
Wish me luck, chasing a dream is hard work! x
- Part 5: Jenniffer White from Cup a Dee Cakes
- Part 6: Tracey Louise Harvey from Little Cherry Cake Company
- Part 7: Torta - Couture Cakes