In today’s Student Spotlight, we’re bringing you Alanna Holmes from Colour Me Cake. Alanna has loved to bake since she was in her early twenties, but was more focused on pastries and home-style cakes because she wasn’t great at decorating!
A couple of years ago when she had quit her job to stay home with her daughter, who was suffering mental health challenges, she found baking as a hobby to focus her energy on that was creative and less stressful during what was a heavy and dark time for her family.
How did you get into cakes?
I decided to do a one-day cake decorating workshop (to help me create a Transformer-themed cake for my young son) and absolutely loved it! At that moment I realised that I was actually not as terrible as I thought at decorating.
The one-day course was great fun but it wasn’t really the style of cake I loved, so I went looking for more courses and found Don’t Tell Charles Online School. At this time I’d volunteered myself to make a cake for my nieces 18th birthday so I used Thao’s Watercolour technique from the course and just loved it!
Looking back it was pretty terrible, I’ve come a long way since then, but that is where it all started for me. After that friends/family started asking me to do their cakes and I decided to launch my business mid-way through 2019.
What made you decide to take an online course?
I’ve sort of answered this above, but from doing the in-person workshop I realised with the right direction I could become much better. I didn’t have the time to do more in-person training so an online course was perfect for me. It allowed me to be home with my sick daughter but also have something fun and creative to work towards.
What DTC course have you enrolled in and how have they helped you?
I’ve completed the Buttercream Mastery Course, the Salted Caramel Course, Chocolate Cake and few other small ones. I don’t think I can articulate the amount of help Thao’s courses have given me, her advice is so detailed and precise. It allowed me to refine my skills so much faster than if I’d just learned from trial and error, YouTube etc.
I’m also a perfectionist so it was less frustrating when things went wrong because Thao’s course had so many helpful tips and things to try. I knew I could keep adapting and improving my skills. I love all the recipes and use many of them every week in my business.
What advice do you have for people starting out in their modern cake making journey?
This is tough because I feel like I’m very much in my infancy as a cake decorator. But I’d say the biggest advice piece of advice is to learn from a pro, getting that professional advice will give you so much more confidence! Also, try as many techniques as you can, it will help you find your strengths and weaknesses!
Oh, and ditch the fondant, that stuff is gross and evil haha!
Check out Alanna's work
Any cake disaster story?
Oh man, it’s hard to think of just one! But I’m such a pathetic perfectionist I will work all night to fix a mistake, so I’ve never handed over a cake that was a total disaster.
My niece’s 18th birthday cake was one of the first cakes I made for an event, I was so nervous about it. Everything went wrong with it! It was a double-barrel, it was on a huge lean so I had to pull it apart and re-stack it, I couldn’t get it smooth, I couldn’t get the pink tones right, I didn’t have enough flowers and had no idea how to arrange them and just when I thought I was done I went to put the topper on and snapped it! I had to do a mad dash to get another one and was late to the party!
The cake was okay in the end, but wow was it STRESSFUL!
Connect with Alanna
Courses Alanna is enrolled in
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