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What a wonderful story of relocation and reinvention! It's not easy starting a business, let alone relocating to a new country and starting a business from scratch. But that's exactly what Coy Salao & her husband did 14 years ago and so emerged their gorgeous cake shop "Cake Lovers". Coy's creations are just wonderful and it's no wonder she soon developed a large gathering of loyal and happy customers.
1. How did your sweets business or journey begin?
My family moved to Australia in 2006 and having a cake business was always in my mind. When we left the Philippines I also left behind a 10-year-old cake shop that I opened with my two best friends. My first job here in Australia was in a bank but I left a few months later when I saw an opportunity to get into cakes again. In December 2007 my husband and I opened Cake Lovers, a tiny suburban shop in Canberra’s south.
2. What has starting your own business meant for you?
Starting this business in a new place of residence has been a meaningful journey especially because it was only me and my husband working full time on it. It meant a 24/7 partnership that allowed us to discover more about each other, going through ups and downs and making our now 29 years of marriage stronger.
3. What have been/are the biggest challenges you face(d) in regard to starting/building/maintaining your business?
I’d say the biggest challenge was starting a business in a different country, out of my comfort zone, faced with different business laws and procedures. Learning and adapting to new customer preferences while establishing our place in the community was likewise vital.
4. What do you feel are the benefits of using edible images?
Using edible images in cake decorating allows me to make more cakes in less time while still getting amazing results. Being able to take on more cake orders means I make more people happy… and of course, more sales to make me happy.
5. What is your favourite type of treat/design to create?
I don’t particularly favour a specific design to make because at the end of the day what I have put my heart and soul to create can easily become my new favourite.
6. What is the current trend you’re seeing in edible images?
The use of edible images as a cake wrap is convenient and versatile. For example, printing an edible image of a Minecraft wall and wrapping it around the cake sides is an easy time-saving technique. Combined with piped buttercream grass along its borders, it makes a less costly but effective Minecraft themed cake. What a great alternative to individually putting one fondant tile at a time.
7. What is the funniest/most unusual sweet creation you’ve been asked to make?
I recently made cupcakes with printed images of the birthday boy’s funny faces. They were meant to surprise him …. And I was smiling the whole time I was making it.
8. Do you have any tips you can share when either printing or applying edible images?
Lately, I have been making a lot of corporate cupcakes with printed edible images of their logo. After I print and cut the images into circles, these are attached to fondant discs before I use them as cupcake toppers. The easiest and fastest way to do this is to use a mini spray bottle to lightly spritz water at the back of the image before attaching to fondant.
9. What is your “can’t live without” sweet making tool?
I definitely can’t live without an angled spatula and cake turntable.
10. What do you do for yourself within your life and business to help avoid or alleviate burnout?
A day off from work each week…sleep in, relax, massage, good food and Netflix.
11. What is your career highlight to date?
I have always looked forward to making my daughter’s wedding cake and thought maybe I could semi-retire after then. I was fortunate enough to do this and very lucky to see our daughter’s beautiful wedding happen just before the lockdowns this year. Retiring from caking soon? Doesn’t seem to be heading that direction though because I love my customers. They have become family to us and their continued love and support beyond cakes is the best part of it all. I am happy I am able to do what I love and love what I do.