It's been an intense and wild 3 years of self-employment and running Rainbow Nourishments full-time. I went from a competitive and well-paid position in the Federal Government to being able to create an income out of thin air.
Under Rainbow Nourishments, I do many things - I'm a cake business owner, social media influencer, food blogger/photographer, recipe developer, workshop facilitator, event facilitator, cake business consultant and I recently become an author. Most professionals only cover 1-3 of these functions.
Initially, I found it exhilarating to dabble in so many different areas. However, it's time for me to really listen to myself and hone Rainbow Nourishments.
I'm closing my cake business and will not be accepting new orders after 15th February 2019. I'll only be doing very selected events in Canberra and selling one-off cakes when I make them for this blog. This definitely hasn't been an easy decision! With an increase of creative work and the impending publication of my cookbook, I need to close down part of my business.
I know that people are going to ask me lots of questions so here are my reasons why:
My body can't handle it
My wrists and hands are TINY. My wrists have a circumference of 13 cm (5.11 inches) which is the equivalent to an average Caucasian 7 year old or the skinniest (and possibly premature) Asian adult.
I know because I've awkwardly grabbed the wrists of a lot of my Asian female friends (with an accompanying explanation) and when we travelled throughout Asia, we'd always be on the lookout for small wrists. We only found 1 person with smaller wrists. All of my joints also happen to be hyper mobile which means they are not great at repetitive activities such as piping frosting and making cakes.
Due to my cake business, I have chronic tendinitis in both wrists and have spent thousands of dollars on appointments with doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and alternative health professionals. I went through months of rehab and avoided medication etc like the plague. However, the pain was all-consuming so I reluctantly got steroid injections in both wrists. Health professionals have recommended surgery but I drew the line there.
After reducing my workload, my wrists have recovered a lot! However, I still feel the pain in simple everyday activities such as driving, riding bikes, using my phone and holding babies. It breaks my heart!
Over the years, I've hired various kitchen assistants to help out with the cake business. However, I've still had to work closely with them which meant that I still couldn't focus on other areas of my business.
If I want a successful cake business in the long term, I need an army of people pumping out cakes and that's not I want to do. I have complete respect for my friends who do that, but it's not the life that I want.
The pay isn't worth it
Chefs are notoriously underpaid for what they do.
I admit that I earnt a decent income overall. However, if I calculate all the costs and time involved, I'd be earning a fraction of Australia's minimum wage per hour.
Even though I worked efficiently 90% of the time, it would be lovely to earn more than $10 an hour!
I'm not a money-orientated person, but in business, you have to be!
It can be incredibly stressful
Cakes are often the centre of celebrations so having that power in your hands is stressful. Every now and then, a cake doesn't turn out as expected so I can spend a whole day trying to fix or remake it. The time and stress isn't worth the money and my wellbeing.
It's not a lifestyle I want
My parents owned restaurants and catering business for my whole life. When I was younger, the little time we had outside school, tutoring and extra-curricular activities was spent at my parents' restaurant. Holidays, on Christmas day, you name it.
My parents worked in hospitality for over 40 years (and counting) and the physical pain has definitely worn off on them. They are now in their 60s and 70s and I feel they have aged quicker than people of the same age. Unlike them, I have a choice to work in hospitality and I don't want it.
If I ever have kids, I don't want a cake business
Growing up, I rarely saw my father. We lived in the same house but we probably saw him at home once every 3 months.
We'd wake up for school at 7am and he'd be fast asleep. He'd leave for work at 12pm (midday) and when we got back from school, he'd be away at work. We'd go to sleep and he'd get home at 12am (midnight) to 2am.
This happened almost every single day up to when I turned 18. I don't want this for my own kids.
I hate working on weekends and after hours
Hospitality hours are tough. Even though I'm my own boss and can choose most of my hours, cakes for special occasions often need to be delivered or picked up after hours or on the weekend.
My partner has a conventional M-F job so if I have a cake pick up/delivery for the weekend, we can't go anywhere or spend much time together.
One of the reasons why we are living in Canberra is because it's close to Sydney (my home) and near lots of places that we want to visit.
I have no desire to own a cake shop
People assume that with a cake business, I'd want to open up a store-front. However, I repeat this again and again: If I want to kill myself, I'll open up a cake shop.
I've seen my parents open heaps of restaurants so I will not get a thrill from 'following their footsteps'.
Life shouldn't be this painful
As grim as it sounds, there have been many many times where I've been in the kitchen and my body and mind just feel like they are going to die or collapse from pain. Whether that's mental or physical pain, if I can choose to not experience that, I definitely will.
I'm extremely grateful for all of the people who have ever purchased a cake or treat from me. I'm extremely grateful for all of the support I've received on social media for my wacky creations.
Working on my cake business has taught me soo much about food and I only want to share that with the rest of the world! I'll continue to share elaborate cakes, creations and everyday food on my social media accounts and blog. xo
Thank you for exposing the dark underbelly of entrepreneurship.
I wish you all the best and hope you’re in a good place now.
Yes, too many people only talk about the glamorous side of being your own boss. Thank you so much... Rainbow Nourishments is still hard work but I definitely prefer the food blogging side of business!
Wow! This is such a relatable post. I’m a raw vegan chef and have been working from home for the past 3 years. Although I absolutely love being able to create healthy food for my clients (through weekly meal delivery, cakes, dessert orders and teaching classes), the workload is exhausting! Today was a holiday in the Us and for a change I decided not to work (which I know it’s gonna make me have to rush in the kitchen in the morning to catch up). I feel like the work is never ending, constant cleanup and ordering and replying to emails… so mcuh. It’s definitely a work of love, and not money. I’m at a point where I definitely need to make a decision on where to take this next because I can’t continue this way for sure. Thank you for your vulnerability
Aw thanks for your comment Carla! I totally hear you - hospitality and catering can be so tiring, especially in the raw vegan industry where you're using expensive ingredients! Reading your comment really brings me back to when I had the business. I'm grateful that I had all those opportunities and was able to connect with clients, However, I'm so so glad that I closed the business at that time! I hope you're able to figure out a more sustainable way to follow your passions, whether it's running your business or doing something different. Thanks so much for your thoughtful message and good luck!
I agree with everything you say!! It sucks having to work so hard all the time. I live in England and have been running a raw cake business for 2+ years and it started out as fun but now it feels that I'm as trapped as ever!! The endless cleaning and tying all my money up into bulk buying expensive ingredients is also stressful. I need to change the way I work too. I may not be in physical pain but I'm severely sleep deprived and don't have much of a life outside of this. I wish you well on your journey and thanks for sharing your beautiful creations.
Melissa smart says
Wow I know how you feel I am a chef and have my own cafe with 4 kids it’s not a job it’s a love thing you have to be passionate about or it doesn’t last long. I have been following you for about 6 months & I love what you do and not sure why I didn’t get onto you earlier.
Gracias por esto ❤️
Thank you, dear, for all the good you have done... i'm not in Australia, but from afar i am so grateful for your kind heart... thank you for your beautiful cakes... and i support you completely in your decision of a couple of years ago... to take care of yourself. I witnessed my dear Mother, a great animal advocate, work tirelessly and give of herself all the time, and it did end in her being very ill. I'm so happy you have taken time to take care of you... all the best! Carol
Anthea, I know what you feel! Right now, I'm running a vegan/vegetarian restaurant here in Charlotte, NC, and at the same time, the main vegan baker. I have 2 vegetarian kids, grown-up. They experienced the sacrifice and the pain of their mother's chosen profession. You should have heard what my son said, "you don't have time for us." I felt I was stabbed in my heart. Nobody, nobody, would ever understand this crazy passion. Here I'm still doing the same thing, but bigger (ha! ha! ha!) Look at you, still doing the same thing but different media! We should rise and smile cuz we're alive and kicking!BTW, I got treated with breast cancer; OK now! Jyoti's World Cuisine Vegan and Vegetarian
Hi Jyoti, yes it's soooo much work owning a hospitality business! Or any business to be honest! I don't have kids right now but often wonder how I'd balance them and my work. I'm passionate about what I do but I've also seen the life long impacts of certain family structures. In saying that, every family is different! I'm so glad that you're ok (and hopefully healing) with your breast cancer journey. I have a friend who just finished radiation therapy and I only wish I could do more to support her! Sending love x
Vanessa Rambaran says
I have had a cake business for 10 years and I can relate to most of what you said. It's not worth your health and family. I started getting numb hands couldn't hold a pen some days because of carpal tunnel due to piping, and I decided to a break, my health is more important. After 10 years of baking, I'm quitting cakes and looking at doing something that doesn't consume all my time. Life is much simpler now, less stress, more peace. Woman think that starting a home business will give you more time with your family but it's actually the opposite because it consumes all your time, where even the time you spend with them is not really quality cos you're always thinking about the orders you have and prepping for it etc. Also the money us not that great, you spend so much on ingredients and hours of labor. Hope you find what makes you happy. I have?
hello, my love!
i've been totally out of touch on Instagram and your blog, but just got an email that sent me to your blog and I've been reading what you've been up to.
I am happy for you. It sounds like the joy was fading in your cake-making. I wish you all the very best! you are so creative and talented and that will shine through in whatever you do.
lots of love.
HELLO! Thanks for popping by (and sorry for my super late reply). It's nice to be out of touch from IG imo haha. Ohh and thank you so much for understanding. I'm actually so relieved that I closed it! Sending you love xo
You're amazing Anthea! And an inspiration for those of us who need to stop, smell the roses and assess what is good for us and our loved ones. You've achieved so much and will continue to succeed with passion. I'm glad you have made this decision. And I'm glad Melita and I have had some work shopping with you and enjoyed so many of your cakes. A little bit of you is with me everytime I decorate a cake. I'm definitely way more creative and interested in decorating now! You've taught me how to have fun too! Looking forward to meeting up with you again, maybe next time as a friend and not just a client. 🙂
You've been so kind and supportive of my journey Helen, THANK YOU! And yes, life is definitely not all about working and achieving goals - for me it's about celebrating the people around me and who I come across! (Though, I type this comment after having a weekend of no rest and only work haha). And I'd love to catch up and have a good yarn as a friend! I always appreciate your insight into things. Much love xo
Hi Anthea, thank you for opening my eyes to the reality of owning your own small creative business and to working in the hospitality industry. It makes me appreciate your delicious creations even more, as well as those from other heartfelt small creatives. It makes sense why we need to pay more to cover the 'real' costs of food, from the labour, water etc when growing fruits, vegetables and grains to the sick leave, superannuation etc of the person who puts it in my table.
I hope we continue to hear from you, I hope your wrists recover, and that you find a place where you feel you are valued for the hours you work.
First of all, I want to say that you sound like an amazing person. I read thru your whole explanation and am so moved by your sincerity. I admire your courage and am touched by your ability to be honest with yourself and to just simply express that honesty with no obstacles, simply as it is.
On another note, your cakes look simply amazing! They are sooooo beautiful and so unique. You are super creative and are so talented. I am sure whatever you decide to do you will be great at it! I truly believe that your choice to listen to your heart (and body) without any criticism and to simply accept what it is that your soul is telling you, is also a gift and a talent. I guess your cakes are an expression of your inner self.
Good luck to you at whatever you choose to do and I hope you will still be in touch to let us know of your next creation!
I am only sorry that I never had a chance to see/taste your creations in person. They must be devine!
Dear Anthea, your post has been an eye opener....i never thought there could be so much behind the scenes of your beautiful creations...i can see there is lots of hard work by the creativity you put into each piece you make but there is also a lot of pain fisical and otherwise. Thank you so much for your creations...i will continue to follow your blog of course and i will purchase your book when it is released.
I wish you all the best for the future. Take care xxxxxx
I just went through the same thing. I was at the point where it was either bump up to commercial baking or stick with my blog, something that has gotten neglected because baking is not my full-time job anyway. I agree with all of your reasons...there is no time for life, or spontaneity, when you own a bakery. It was non-stop when I worked for a bakery years ago. I like the idea of my community coming in and saying hello and enjoying my creations, but is it worth the sacrifice depending on the life you want to live? For me, no. Not unless it's an investment where I have others running it and I'm the overseer and recipe developer. Good for you for seeing what you want, and need, in your life!
You know how proud I am of you Anthea! You are smart. Talented. Gifted. Honest. Sweet. Generous. Sincere. You do exactly what is right for you and please direct me to how I can purchase your cookbook? I'm so ecstatic for you! Be you coz you IS fantastic!!!!!!!!! (Bad grammar was deliberate here!)Look at your creations! We're all inspired and we can buy your book and cook these cakes with LOVE ourselves because you give us the inspiration xxxx All success. All love and great peace to you and your precious being xxxxxx
Katie | Delightful Vegans says
Loved reading this heartfelt, raw and honest post Anthea. Making cakes is stressful and it's great that you're choosing to focus on other things! Sending big hugs xo
All very valid reasons Anthea,not an easy decision to make but now that you’ve made it, such an exciting one!! Freeing you up to take on a new and exciting journey!
Much love to you
Sara of Shiso Delicious says
I totally hear you Anthea, sounds like you've made the right decision! It's refreshing to hear about your reality behind the scenes.. Now that you close this part of your activity new opportunities and growth will become available to you 🙂 enjoy x