April 7, 2008 by jimsmuse
When I first visited the website of Jamaica Vawter I was blown away (and made quite hungry!) by the fantastic wedding and special occasion cakes she designs. Discovering that her Los Angeles bakery Jamaica’s Cakes uses only the freshest ingredients and doesn’t take any shortcuts made my mouth water even more.
Running a business is challenging in any industry, but running a business that requires creativity every single day definitely transforms it into a cool job of the highest order. And besides…you get to taste your own creations!
Have you got enough passion for pastry to be a cake designer? Read on and find out!
When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your
I always let people know that I have my own business, a bakery in West LA called “Jamaica’s Cakes”. The very next thing I have to explain is that my name is Jamaica and that there is nothing Jamaican about it I like to blame my parents for that confusion! We offer many varieties of desserts and pastries including bars, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, eclairs, cream puffs, tarts, morning pastries and most importantly… CAKES We do cakes for any and all occasions… birthday cakes, artistic baby shower cakes, and original wedding cakes! We do a lot of cakes for weddings in Los Angeles, as well as the surrounding areas. We make everything from scratch which seems to be a unique thing with us. It seems that most other bakeries add preservatives to their product to make them last longer. Many of them say they freeze their cakes for freshness, which is just not true. Freezing a cake lowers the quality and dries it out, period. And never put it in the freezer between decorating! Just put it in the fridge and wait a little bit longer. They also use large buckets of pre-made, sugary-sweet frostings and fillings for ease and for consistency, but you can taste the preservatives in them. And with dairy prices on the rise, a lot of them use shortening to cut corners. I like to take pride in the fact that we use all real, wholesome ingredients, real butter, real cream, real vanilla, never use shortening or freeze our desserts, and only make things to order. I feel it affects the overall flavors and that customers can really tell the difference in our desserts. One bite is all it takes to have them coming back for more!
What are the things about your job that you love?
I love that what I do makes people happy!! We make cakes for celebrations in life, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries happy times. I love that I’m able to be creative everyday and that there’s always something new going on. I could never sit at a desk and do an office job… I need to keep things exciting and new. I love when a client comes to me and asks if I can do a specific concept that I’ve never done before. I am always happy to try new things that I feel I can do. If it’s something really crazy that I don’t feel confident in doing, I say so.
What are the things about your job that you hate?
I’m not to fond of the behind-the-scenes business stuff involved with owning your own business, accounting, bookkeeping, etc. I am fortunate enough to have my husband as a business partner and he enjoys doing all those things. It frees me up to focus on the creative aspects of my business, cakes & pastries.
What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?
You can have all the money, education, and training to do this job (or any, for that reason), but it all comes from deep down inside, a passion. If you don’t have that, you’ll be unhappy in whatever vocation you choose. One of my favorite quotes goes something like “First, find what you love to do. Then find someone to pay you for it!” Too often in this world people have jobs they hate. Instead of dreading the time work starts, you can look forward to it! One of the most important things you can do in life is get a job you love, it adds to overall health and happiness in so many ways. I found that working hands-on in the industry was the best education I received. Just because you have a degree in pastries doesn’t mean you know how to make good pastries. There are tricks and techniques that you don’t learn in school but rather you pick up from fellow bakers.
What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your
professional training or your job?
There are many little things that happen all the time in this industry that are funny. One of my favorite stories, which has happened a few times :), is when someone forgets to see what speed the mixer is set to before turning it on and it’s set to “high” so before you know it there’s an explosion of either cream or flour coming out the mixer and going all over the baker, mixer, counters, everywhere. There are always some great pictures taken at those times