Just like many of our professional Pastry & Baking Arts students, cake designer Stevi Auble didn’t always dream of constructing trendsetting cakes. Yet this career changer’s shift from interior design to edible design has cemented her as an icon in the field of custom luxury cakes.
Formerly, you were an interior designer. What inspired you to shift your focus to cakes?
It was something that evolved a few years ago. I started making cupcakes for my youngest daughter’s preschool and the director really started to push me to sell them because they were so well received. Eventually that word of mouth turned into inquiries from all over, and it put me in a position where I had to decide whether or not I wanted to create a legitimate business. Ultimately, I decided go to forgo the interior design industry and become my own boss. Initially, the concept for Hey There, Cupcake! was a small designer cupcake company, but soon that transitioned into full-sized cakes (including wedding cakes). My design background plays a huge part in my cake decorating style, translating basic design principles into the construction of each cake. In particular, I have always loved textiles and prints; an influence you can see in the majority of my cakes.
How did you develop your signature specialties for your cakes?
I have always done my best to stick to what I like personally and really stay away from “trends.” I always draw my inspiration from the design and art worlds, rather than looking at other cakes. This may lead to unconventional cake designs, but they are something that I am proud to have my name on regardless of how they are received by the public.
What do you think is the root of your success?
I would say that my success stems from a combination of perseverance and being confident in my design choices. I have found this business—as with any other—to be very challenging. It takes a lot of perseverance to move forward through it all. A big piece of that is knowing who you are and sticking to it. I believe that any of the success I have had in this business is because I have always created what feels right to me. I never ask myself, “Will other people like this?” I think that’s a creativity killer.
What advice would you give to pastry professionals interested in entering the cake field?
I think it’s important for them to know that it isn’t easy, not in the least. There are so many facets to this particular field, as the majority of designers are also small business owners. Not only do you need to be extremely consistent and reliable as a baker and decorator, but you also have to have extensive knowledge of how to run a business.
What is one “cake disaster” that you would share with students as a lesson?
My biggest disaster was actually just this past summer. During a delivery, my assistant was cut off by another car, and the cake she was transporting fell over, significantly damaging the top tier. I happened to be out of the country teaching, and it was the middle of the night in Germany. She didn’t feel she could call me for advice on how to rectify the situation, so she fixed the cake as best she could and the florist was able to add some flowers to hide some of the damage. However, the cake was not what it was supposed to be. Luckily the couple was extremely kind and understanding, but I learned a valuable lesson—to make sure, first and foremost, that my staff knows that they can contact me at any time. It’s also important to remember that sometimes life just happens and all you can do is your best. It’s the way that you react to situations that really matters.
Can you tell me more about the “Wafer Paper Flowers” class you’ll be teaching on Feb 9-10 at ICE?
I will be teaching the students how to create three different kinds of wafer paper flowers—my favorite technique. I love the visual lightness that wafer paper offers. For me, it’s the perfect balance of a lovely visual effect in edible form. We’ll also cover a fun paint technique to enhance their overall design.
Click here to register for Stevi’s class and to see the full 2015 schedule of advanced pastry classes at ICE.