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I really like the iPhone, but my husband's Samsung seems to have a far superior camera - EVERYTHING looks better, crisper, sharper through his phone. But I love my iPhone. So I thought, I'd send a photo of my beloved iPhone to Samsung and say, hey Mr Samsung, can you please make me an exact copy of this iPhone, looking the same, working the same but just make the camera like yours? Oh wait, there's this thing called Intellectual Property that Apple, and pretty much every other company in any industry, is extremely hot over. 

Anges de Sucre Cake

All, except it would seem cake making and other smaller creative design industries made up of small businesses. For some inexplicable reason, and especially with the advent of Pinterest, it seems to be commonly accepted practice to send a baker a picture of someone else's birthday cake and ask to repli-cake. Now there are many reasons why someone would do that - they genuinely love the design and the "original" cake maker is based 3,000 miles away, or they can't even trace the original cake maker and need to get a cake done asap for the weekend, or they think there's no harm done having someone else copy it. All "kinda" valid thoughts as a customer. Kinda...

Copy-Cats & Copy-Cakes

Sending a photo of a Pinterest cake to your friend or your nan etc to recreate is completely different. Hobby baking is huge, and should be encouraged. It's the same as me watching a Beyonce music video and trying to do my best Single Ladies moves at a wedding.

Best Friend's Wedding Cake

But when it's commercial, ie: cake being made in exchange for money, that's when it gets shady in my opinion. Here's why:

Creative Content Short Cuts

Cakes, and indeed other creative products eg: wedding stationery, posters, dresses, perfume bottles, I could go on and on, these things don't design themselves. There is a creative maker who spends time dreaming, thinking, creating and trialling. That time is generally incorporated into the cost of the cake. Now when someone sends a photo of an obviously designed creative cake (I'm not talking about a bog standard frosted vanilla cake with sprinkles, I'm talking about something like our Alice in Wonderland cake) to another cake maker to replicate, they're asking the other cake maker to short-cut the design process and profit off someone else's creative input. Any other industry, eg: fashion or phones, that's a potential messy lawsuit.  

Alice in Wonderland Birthday Cake

Ego Bruising

We'll every so often get enquiries where the customer has obviously been on our website, browsed and seen the type of cakes we mainly specialise in, drip cakes with our own "flair" yet sends us a photo of a novelty cake, fondant iced number or someone else's beautifully designed cake (I've even seen images of cakes sent to us made by cake makers I know and am friends with myself!). I'll say it straight up, it stings. It stings because it's quite insulting to be kind of told that our designs aren't good enough and we need to copy or be "inspired" by someone else's work and possibly even beat their price. Us cake makers, we have feelings too man...

Creative Cakes London

Inappropriate Credit

It may not be too obvious in the cake making world, but it does happen and when it does it mega sucks - the copy cat gets all the credit and enjoys the fruits of recognition so to speak. One of my incredibly talented cake maker pals in London, Olofson Design, designed a beautiful Marie Antoinette inspired cake. It was a stunning design, so stunning that a bride had another local cake maker make an exact replica for her wedding and that wedding happened to get featured in a popular wedding magazine, blogs and all that jazz. Except the cake credit went to the copy-cat of course, not the original designer of the cake. And this does happen far more often than we think - larger companies "steal" smaller indie designers creative work, such as illustrations and artwork, and get the recognition and press (and profits) due to their size and established brand. 

U ok hun??

Right about now you're probably thinking, "Hang on Reshmi, you said it was kinda okay at the start of this post?? All this sounds like you've got your knickers in a twist about it...u ok hun?"

Ah yes, I am okay. Of course I know cake designing can't be protected like designing other physical goods such as an iPhone - after all it's a perishable item that gets ogled for a bit, papped, and then gobbled. If someone is really desperate for one of our Horn of the Unicorn croquembouches but is getting married in Lahaina as opposed to London then of course it makes sense to request someone local to create it.

Horn of the Unicorn Croquembouche

If we're out of someone's budget, obviously that customer is going to go looking elsewhere, and we could also be on the flip-side where another cake maker is out of budget and the customer brings their image and enquiry to us instead (this happens quite frequently with wedding cake enquiries!).

Inspiration is tremendous, imitation is tedious

So the onus is on us fellow creatives - we are justified in taking pride in our work and skills and can say, "That's beautiful, thanks for sharing the image for inspiration but we'd like to change it up by doing this and this and that and this just so that we aren't simply copying someone else's work and to make it truly unique for you". We all draw inspiration from each other, Instagram, noone's an island and all that but isn't that just ideal? Who knows, it could even be better than the original!

Lots of love,

Reshmi xoxo

 

  


5 Responses

Maria
Maria

31 August, 2018

Loved reading your article! It amazes me how there is so little people in the cake world that seem to care about this issue. The worst thing a client can ask of me is sending me a picture of someone else’s cake and ask me to make on like it. It makes me so sad really. When I started my business I did not have enough pictures of cakes so clients could see my style and what type of work I do so I started drawing my original ideas to show them before making their cakes. Now I think I have shared enough work on my page to make people see what my style is all about and still they keep asking for cakes from other cake designers, it’s insulting really… However I do understand why this happens, it happens because most other cake decorators can only do copycat cakes of ideas they get from pinterest and so clients get used to it and think it’s the normal thing to do to go look from some pictures online and then ask for a copy of the cake they like. Honestly every time I get a message with a picture of someone else’s cake I feel like my work is worthless and want to quit.
I despise cake “designers” who copy others work, makes me sick really. I see so many people being successfull by stealing other ideas, it’s not fair really.

Reshmi Bennett
Reshmi Bennett

30 December, 2017

Hi Emma, of course. It’s a fair question and one that I totally am in agreeance with. A few years ago I blogged about just that in one of our most popular blog posts – The Perfect Chocolate Drip Cake Recipe (https://www.angesdesucre.com/blogs/anges-de-sucre/83367940-the-perfect-chocolate-ganache-drip-cake-recipe) and you’ll see that I acknowledge those who have inspired me along the way. When we launch a new design which has been inspired from somewhere we share the source of our inspiration such as our ever popular DeliciouslyStella, Netflix & Chill, and Unicorn Cascade cakes for example. Of course, from then on we inspire ourselves and the skills we pick up get applied to various others so the initial source of inspo becomes less relevant – hope that makes sense and that you can see that I like to strike a good balance on the practice-preaching tightrope of cakes :) x

Reshmi Bennett
Reshmi Bennett

30 December, 2017

Hi Lizzie,
Thanks for your comment! I think it’s so important to keep learning, and that only comes from doing and so everyone has to learn from someone else, and like you, my team and I also do similar here we focus on the execution. But the only way we can take pride in it is by applying any new skills to our own ideas and likewise, I love seeing other creators’ takes on anything we could have inspired with. There’s really no joy or pride in copying! Wishing you a very happy new year and lots of great caking xxx

Lizzie
Lizzie

30 December, 2017

I’m only a hobby baker and sometimes when I’m learning a new skill for example I’m currently learning and playing with piped buttercream flowers,
I like to copy other peoples cakes so that all my concentration is on the execution and I have something to compare my final product to.
However that being said, at one point a couple of years ago my little cakes became quite popular by word of mouth that I had friends of friends asking for birthday cakes and I got so frustrated and annoyed at being sent a picture of a cake and asked to make it, it took all the fun out of the process for me though I understand it from a customers point of view, they see a cake on Pinterest – they want that cake. But for me it never sat right and I stopped accepting any requests where a copy was asked for! I love your cakes and designs and love looking to other cake makers for inspiration but that’s where it should stop. If I want to feel pride in something I’ve created, surely that won’t come from carbon-copying someone else?

Emma
Emma

29 December, 2017

You are absolutely right I do understand where you are coming from. Your amazing bakery is known for its gorgeous drip cakes yet I read somewhere that it originated in Australia so just a question here… is there anywhere on your website where you clearly state that you were inspired by them?? (Unbirthday bakery etc) I am sure you were inspired and went on to add your style of course but if you havent stated it anywhere people will think you invented the drip cake ?? I dont know if you understand what I mean, I am not trying to judge or be rude just trying to follow your logic and wondering if you have applied it to your own business ??

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CAKE GOSSIP

Cake Size Guide

 Tiers Size (inch) Portions
8
1 8 14
1 10 21
1 12 28
2 6 & 8 22
2 8 &10 35
2 10 & 12 49
3 6, 8 & 12 43
3 8, 10 & 12 63
4 8,10,12& 14 84