Looking for a baker in Clovis New Mexico? Cookies for a school or work function or your childs birthday cake? Check out Stephanie from Livis sweets and treats
Business name: Livi’s Sweets and Treats
~What is your story as a baker? (how long have you done it? what led you to start etc) I think in order to know how I became a baker, you’d have to know a little bit about my personality. If you were to ask anybody to describe me, they would tell you that I’m a giver. It’s just what I do. I want to give gifts to everyone I know. I think of extremely thoughtful items that significant people in my life would like… Sometimes I get frustrated because my gifts are not “personal” enough, so I started making gifts.
One day when I was walking in Target, in Lubbock TX (where we resided at the time), I saw a book titled Hello Cupcake. It had penguin cupcakes on the cover, so naturally, I just HAD to have it! I thumbed through the book and grew more and more excited with each page I passed. Thanksgiving was coming up, which happened to be my Momo’s birthday, so I decided her gift that year was going to be cupcakes. This was my very first attempt at making a decorate cupcake. Of course, I had to choose a cupcake that was fall related and fitting for Momo. My husband and I decided on the sunflower cupcakes with little M&M ladybugs. For my first attempt at cupcakes, I’d say they were pretty darn good.
Everyone loved them! And I was incredibly proud. This was back in November of 2008. Ever since then I’ve added cupcakes to my arsenal of gifts.
I never really thought anything of it. It was just a hobby. Mixing three ingredients and a boxed cake mix together and then slap my icing on. Nothing special… Anybody can do this… And this is how I continued for several years. It all changed when my current neighbor asked if I would make her son’s first birthday cupcakes… and she wanted to PAY ME!? Pay me? Really!? I was so flattered. She went to my daughter’s first birthday and loved how I decorated her cupcakes six months earlier. I was so excited I went out and bought supplies right away. It was for a cowboy birthday party. I thought it would be precious to have little cows and pigs on her cupcakes… It was my first time working with fondant and sculpting. They were a huge success and everyone loved them.
After that, a friend of mine kept pushing and pushing and PUSHING me to create a page. She kept trying to convince me that my work is as good as Courtney Clark. If you do not know who she is, look her up. NOW. I’m sure you’ll agree my work is not at her caliber just yet- but it will be! Anyways, I reluctantly created a page after I thought of the name Livi’s Sweets and Treats. I chose this name because everything I do, I do it so my daughter can have a better life than me. I feel compelled to create for her and to be the best everything for her. I also chose this name because I can just see Livi being in high school (although I do not think she will still allow me to call her Livi by then, her legal name is Olivia) and people asking her if she was Livi from Livi’s Sweets and Treats.
Once my page was up and running we have perfected our recipes and all of our cakes and frosting’s are homemade. I say “we” because my husband used to help me in the beginning. I used to work full time in the beginning and worked on my cakes at night. With a toddler, household, husband, three dogs, and a full time job, I relied on Chance, my huband, for a lot. He did most of the baking the first few months and I am forever grateful. He didn’t just do it because he had to, he actually enjoys cooking and baking. Myself, on the other hand, couldn’t care less for baking. I just wanted to decorate and design. When I started doing cakes full time I took over everything for the business. I had to bake in order to get to the decorating so I just got it over with as quickly and as cleanly as possible. Now I enjoy baking. I even experiment now with my recipes and creations. My latest successes are a homemade Cherry Coke cake and a Samuel Adam’s Chocolate Bock butter cream (not served together). I rather enjoy everything I do and look forward to my next order and the challenges it will bring!
~How did you get your name out there? Honestly, my only marketing tool is Facebook. I started my page and within four months I had 300 fans. Most of my clients are referrals. I am also VERY fortunate to have VERY talented friends who have been advertising for me through their photography pages and smash cake sessions. I am forever indebted to my friends who have helped launched my business.
~ Being compensated fairly for a service seems to be a difficult thing for a lot of people starting out. How did you decide on pricing? Were you fair to yourself in the beginning? In the beginning I would just guessimate a price. I would look at a picture and pull a number out of thin air. Sometimes it worked out in my favor, sometimes it didn’t. I think it helped me though determine approximate times needed to complete my current orders and to be able to price accurately now. A couple of months ago, I decided I needed to figure out a way to be more consistent with my pricing. After many hours of researching I printed off and studied serving charts, downloaded apps to help me with stacking cakes, and read many forums about how to set prices. I ended up calling the competition to get their prices. Albertson’s prices are $1.75 a serving. Suger Shack’s are $2.50 a serving. I felt, at the time, that my work was tremendously better than both of these places, however I also felt like I couldn’t set my prices too high and scare everyone away. So Chance and I both agreed that we would set the prices in the middle. I currently charge $2.00 a serving for buttercream or icing covered cakes and $2.50-$3.00 a serving for fondant covered cakes or heavily decorated items. I still feel like I am not getting compensated fairly. Many of my cakes take me hours upon HOURS to complete. I feel like my portfolio of work to showcase is substantial now and that I have built up a good enough reputation that I can start charging what I feel my work is valued at. I do believe that this will harm me at first. Those clients who struggle to accept my prices now probably won’t continue to use me. Which is fine. I ultimately feel like I want to cater to the higher price point in cakes and put in the time and energy that those cakes deserve. If I started charging these rates to begin with, no one would have even placed an order… Now is a different story.
~What has been your favorite cake to date? Oh wow, this is a toughy! I have multiple favorites for different reasons. One of my favorites would be the Brown Bear cake because it was the first time since being in business that I was able to make a cake exactly that I wanted to make. Another would be the Xbox controller and Pepsi can because it was my first sculpted cake. I surprisingly was not nervous to take that first slice. The whole thing came together flawlessly. Another all-time favorite would be the Circus cake because I had full creative control with that cake and I just adored the way it looked! And then lastly, another favorite would be the Rustic wedding cake. I am very proud of that cake. It probably weighed close to 60 pounds. All my tiers were perfectly level. The “ruffled” look went perfectly with the wedding decor, style, and topper. That cake only took me 8 hours to complete, baking an all! It was 11 batches of recipes and 18 recipes of butter cream. Again, I’m VERY proud of that cake!
~ Who are your artistic heroes? Artistically my idols are Van Gogh and Georgia O’Keefe. I have been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and the O’Keefe exhibit in Santa Fe and feel in love again and again. I have loved these artists since I started taking art classes when I was a sophomore in high school.
In the cake world I am utterly impressed by Courtney Clark, owner and pastry chef at Cake Nouveau in Ann Arbor Michigan, and with Lesley Wright, a cake hobbyist (my jaw dropped when I found out she was just a hobbyist!) in California. You can find her work at Royal Bakery on Facebook. I hope to someday be able to create masterpieces like these ladies. Their attention to detail is not comprehensible! They are utterly amazing.
Where do you see your business in 5 years? In five years I see Livi’s Sweets and Treats lit up on a retro neon lit sign on Main street. The ultimate goal is to open a full bakery that offers pastries, custom cakes, and has homemade ice creams and sodas. I see a retro soda fountain in the near future. I heard a statistic the other day that 40% of all food related businesses fail and I refuse to let that happen. Clovis NEEDS Livi’s Sweets and Treats. We have always wanted to open and own a restaurant. Now that dream has changed a little bit to owning a bakery!
~Favorite quote? “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” –Abraham Lincoln
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln
~ tell us 3 randomly interesting things about you.
I am a huge math nerd and have mathematical pi tattooed on my left foot to the 21st digit.
I share birthdays with Albert Einstein.
I was named after Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac.
Thank you stephanie for sharing your work with us
If you are interested in being featured on my blog please contact me via the contact form and we can chat!
In the meantime go check out Livis sweets and treats FACEBOOK PAGE and see what awesome work she does!