In today’s Student Spotlight, we’re bringing you Afra Abdeen from Oh That Be Good!
Cake design has been a side hustle and a happy place for Afra. Having experimented with working full-time and running Oh That Be Good full-time, she’s discovered that the sweet spot to help her thrive lies in servicing both of her passions!
How did you get started baking?
It started with being an incredibly bored teenager. I had just finished high school, moved countries, and faced a long wait till uni started. I didn’t know what to do with myself and was driving my parents nuts. My dad is a baker and he decided that we should bake my little cousin’s birthday cake together so I had something to do. This is how I discovered that I actually had the patience for cake decorating and that I enjoyed it. Things evolved from there with me beginning to experiment and people ordering novelty cakes. It got me through 5 years at uni with a nice little side hustle.
Today, I create bespoke cakes, run cake decorating workshops that focus on helping people unleash their creativity and specialise in edible flower creations.
How do you find working with buttercream in your climate?
I think I have learnt to work with the seasons in Australia so nothing to complain about. I have lived in Sydney and Adelaide, both of which offer dry heat in summer. Baking in Sri Lanka is a whole other ball game. Cake sweat is the worst in humidity and working around that whenever I have baked there has been a challenge!
How has your business evolved since Covid-19?
COVID-19 hit when my business was at its peak. I was contracting and working a four-day week with dedicated time for Oh That Be Good. My ‘In Good Company’ workshops were in full swing and I had specialised in edible flower cakes that were beginning to get traction. Then everything changed. My contract ended, I had to face job hunting in the strangest time and only had Oh That Be Good beside me.
We were lucky as my husband was still employed through this period, so I could focus my energy on pivoting Oh That Be Good as I tried to find work. I always operated on a bespoke model, with cakes as my primary offering. I never dabbled in desserts and treats, but COVID-19 helped me find my way there.
My online shop ‘Time For Treats’ was born, an offering designed to keep people connected through postal treats. I had a tonne of beautiful edible flowers in my flower press waiting to be put to use and created my floral shortbread biscuits, inspired by my learnings from The Blushing Cook. I then proceeded to add more products to suit the needs of the moment like DIY cupcake and cookie kits, small cakes and even a flower press!
Any cake disaster story?
When my faithful red velvet cake recipe came out of the oven, not looking red. I was baffled. It was for a wedding cake order and the night before assembly day. I had to say a prayer, ask Google, tweak things and try again. It got there, but the innards were different shades (paired strategically so no one would know when they got their slice, but I knew).
I then spent a month or two afterward trying a variety of different red velvet cake recipes, including DTC. I conquered the learning; then decided it was time to break up with Red Velvet. It’s no longer on my menu.
What made you decide to take an online course?
I took the DTC online square cakes course when I wanted to master the technique. It was after experiencing the real-life version with Thao, videoing her the entire time and watching them on repeat! I knew that it was incredibly valuable to be able to keep going back to the visual content, so having it on hand made lots of sense.
What DTC course have you enrolled in and how have they helped you?
I have completed the Watercolour workshop in Sydney and Square Cakes course online.
They taught me the fundamentals with buttercream techniques. Sharp edges being the most coveted concept, especially with square cakes. My biggest take away from Thao though was from being with her in person. I learnt that she broke all the rules of the time in making the style her own. I like that DTC still brings that message through in the online workshops and forums. It’s not about creating offerings that copy and paste DTC. Instead, the workshops create the space for us to learn the basics so we waste less time making mistakes. What we do with it after is completely up to us.
For me, it’s given me the confidence to experiment. Take what I know in principle and overlay my creative eye. If the buttercream is too buttery – change the ratios; cake too dry – try another recipe.
What advice do you have for people starting out in their modern cake making journey?
Take your time to experiment and find your sweet spot. You don’t have to be an expert at every technique and style. Find the ones that bring you joy and specialise in that! Always charge your worth. Time and experience has a different value for everyone. Know yours, own it, charge it. The right customers will always be there to support you.
Check out Afra's work
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