By Sophie Page of Cakes by Sophie Page and Model Baking
"Worries are usually a waste of time!"
I’m 34 currently and it’s fair to say that food and baking have been a major part of my life from a fairly young age. Although I didn’t consider baking as a career until around age 26, now I look back I can’t see why I didn’t start earlier as it was the obvious career path for me! I love both the baking and artistic sides, but most of all I enjoy meeting with couples to hear about their plans for the cake and designing them something they’ll love.
I’ve always enjoyed baking and messing around with food in some form or other. I remember me and my friend would regularly knock out cornflake cakes from an early age and I would help my Dad bake delicious flapjack and parkin. He’d let me stir all the mouth-watering butter and golden syrup mixture and spread it into the tin. I’ve got really fond memories of those times.
Baking & Mental Health
After a series of traumas around age 11, I developed depression which led to the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Disordered eating took over my life then until about age 21, during which time baking played a rather negative role in my life. I baked many delicious looking cakes and biscuits but didn’t allow myself to indulge in even one little bite. Looking back this sounds like torture now!
Falling Back in love With Baking
I then left baking behind for a number of years, not returning to it until around age 25 when I took part in a short course to learn the basics of sugar flowers. Having always been artistic this really appealed, so just for fun I did a 2-day course and proudly showed my results on Facebook. The same evening, I had a request to see if I made cakes and would be willing to make a special anniversary cake. I thought, why not! And this was the start of my baking career!
Baking as a Career
So, after my first order was a success, I quickly decided to work hard at learning more sugar craft skills and began practising at every opportunity. I created a Facebook page, registered as a business and off I went! I was in a bit of an unfulfilling job at the time so jumped at the chance to do something different and this ticked all the boxes for me.
"I really believe that you should throw yourself into new opportunities and not hold back!"
My husband then made me a website and things really snowballed from there and it quickly became my full-time job. I started out making all sorts of cakes, but I knew from early on that wedding cakes were where my heart was. I then made the scary decision to make only wedding cakes and put all my efforts into that side, luckily this was the right decision and now I create over 100 wedding cakes a year and am busy enough that my husband has recently started work with me too!
Taking the Plunge!
I’m definitely someone that throws themselves in the deep end and taking the steps to make baking cakes my full-time job was no different. I always feel very aware that life is short and for some can actually be too short, so I don’t see any point in waiting for things that feel right. I basically learned on the job and this worked fine for me. Now more than ever, there’s so much free/cheap valuable information available on the internet, so as long as you’re dedicated you can teach yourself. It felt a natural process for me to take this career path and luckily, I had a supportive husband who enabled me to start on a low income and build up from there. If you really enjoy doing something, it’s a wonderful thing to turn that hobby into an income-providing life and I’d definitely encourage others to go for it and worry about the logistics later. Worries are usually a waste of time!
Sophie's Beautiful Sugar Flower Designs (Yes, they're sugar!)
COVID-19 and its Mental Health Impact
The COVID-19 pandemic was a real shock and is having a significant impact on my business. Like everyone, I’ve had to adapt, but it’s been abrupt as my sole income is from weddings and there’ve been no weddings. It feels like it’s not a great business to be in currently. I went through various stages from not believing it would affect my summer business, to panicking that I’d go bust, to accepting that you can overcome most things. Happily, my business is still standing. I’ve also found that having time out from the usual busy schedule has really benefitted me and my business. I’ve had time to complete a business course that time wouldn’t usually allow, I’ve developed new skills and really identified the way I want my business to run from now on. Mentally, it’s been a bumpy journey though. I’m very used to having a hectic schedule both in business and personal life and having all that dissolve has been a struggle. I’m a positive character but things have been harder than usual. I haven’t stopped baking though and have found it’s really helped to focus on new baking ideas and researching different techniques. It’s kept my creative side fulfilled and my mind busy. I’ve also found that drawing, walking and yoga have helped keep me mentally ‘up’ too.
Baking with Pride
Without a doubt, the cake that I’m most proud of is the one I fretted over the most beforehand…it was just so technically challenging but as I’d committed to doing it I had to figure out how to do it! The bride had a very specific design in mind and it involved carving (tricky) , repetitive designs (tricky to make all look the same), using fresh flowers in a way I’d never done before, it was also extremely tall and I even had to do some drilling! But, with a little help from my husband and my Dad I did it! I was so happy with the results! Getting some wonderful feedback from the family made me super proud too as it was a large scale event so I knew it had to impress a lot of people.
"I love being able to involve my Dad in MY bakes now after having such fond memories of him involving me in his bakes when I was a child. He loves it too!"
Learning to Self-Soothe
Not everybody gets back in touch after their event and this is something I’m still learning to cope with. Having always sought approval from others I’m aware that it’s very important not to base your own worth on the values of other people. It’s vital to believe in yourself and not wait on the feedback from others to believe that you did a good job. When I scroll past the photos of that incredibly challenging, but beautiful cake now it always makes me smile, because I know all the effort was worthwhile and I created something that was very difficult and outside of my comfort zone.
Mindful Indulgence with a Healthy Twist: @ModelBaking
Dealing with a High-Pressure Job
Many people say me “what a relaxing job you must have!”. Err, no, relaxing isn’t quite the right word…challenging, enjoyable, rewarding and creatively stimulating it is, but relaxing it is not! There’s constant deadlines, a lot of paper work, deliveries, marketing, consultations, recipe writing, oh and baking of course! It’s a surprisingly pressure-filled job but luckily I revel in a bit of pressure. To combat this, I enjoy working out hard at the gym and doing gentle yoga at home. I’ve trained myself to take a lunch break and this helps me reset for the afternoon. I also find yoga really beneficial as it’s often the only time of the day that I’m not thinking about other things, I can really zone out during a yoga a session.
"I also make sure I’ve always got a holiday or a good treat to regularly look forward to i.e. a nice meal out on a random Tuesday or a spa day with a friend."
Running a business is very all-consuming so having regular days out of the house which is my work place is very important for me.
My Favourite Bake
If I’m baking just for for me then I just can’t resist a chocolate oat cookie. I’ve perfected this cookie but don’t bake it too often as I lose all self-control and end up eating about 8 in a day! Cookies genuinely make me feel cosy inside and happy! It’s the melty inside and chewy exterior that do it for me! For the best cookie recipe, along with other favourites on my insta highlights then click here.
During lockdown I’ve had time to pursue another side of baking which has been a passion of mine for some time. This involves baking with alternative ingredients, focusing more on adding a nutritional element to the products and making all sorts of easy and accessible sweet creations that I then share on my additional Instagram page Modelbaking. I’m studying nutrition and applying this to my bakes. Due to COVID-19, I’ve missed baking for other people but sharing my recipes online and getting some great feedback has made me feel connected to others. I’m happy that folks are getting enjoyment from something I’m able to offer. For me, Life is good.
Another of Sophie's Delicious Bakes
Sophie Page is a professional and incredibly talented wedding cake creator and baker based in Coventry but covering The Midlands and Nationally if required. She has been featured in many cake publications and has had experience in creating all sorts of cakes from the sleek and contemporary single tier, up to the staggering (and step ladder needing) 10 tiers. Her personal style is bold and contemporary but still keeping it pretty. She has a passion and incredible talent, for making amazing sugar flowers. If you’re in need of a wedding cake or dessert table check out her Instagram page @cakesbysophiepage or website www.cakesbysophiepage.co.uk She also loves to talk cake so if you want a speaker at your event then Sophie would be a superb choice. @modelbaking is her newest love and focuses on all things healthful and healthier baking. Because she’s a yoga, there’s also a fair sprinkling of yoga on there too.
if you enjoyed this post why not check out our post on the mental health implications of eating, leftovers and gratitude here