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 is horrible. Chefs are infamously are underpaid for what they do. I work pretty efficiently 90% of the time. However, if I pay myself the minimum wage, add up the costs of ingredients, admin, marketing overheads, rent, electricity, and profit for business development, my cakes would cost a lot more. This isn’t feasible in my city’s market! I’m not a money-orientated person, but in business I have to be. I can work up to 100 hours a week and it’d be nice to earn more than $10 an hour, you know?! That’s less than half of the Australian minimum wage. I’m just being realistic.
It can be incredibly stressful. Cakes are often the centre of celebrations so having that lie 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 that 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, Christmas days, 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 to choose 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 three months. We’d wake up for school at 7am and he’d be fast asleep. He’d leave for work at around midday and when we got back from school, he’d be working. We’d go to sleep and he’d get home at 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’ve never want 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 up 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