Thao Armstrong

Hey there,

I'm Thao!

I’m the founder of Don’t Tell Charles and your course instructor. My passion is to help aspiring cake makers achieve success by working smarter, not harder.

I started my cake making journey as a home baker back in 2012. In my 10 years as a modern cake designer, I’ve been through it all. I’ve done the hard slog, wasted years making mistakes (and learnt heaps from them), so I know what you’re going through and how it feels. I’m here to shorten the journey for you, to give you tried and true, expert advice you can trust.

ACDN Best Teacher Award (Australian Cake Decorating Network)

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Physical cake decorating workshops conducted​

Judge on The Cake Professionals Awards UK

Judge on Melbourne’s Great Architectural Baking Competition

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Students served, worldwide​

Creator of the Concrete Cake

I never thought I was going to be a cake designer.

Like most 18 year olds, I didn’t know what I wanted to be but a career in the creative field wasn’t something that was on the cards. It wasn’t because I wasn’t creative, quite the contrary. It was more the misguided view that creative jobs aren’t serious jobs or that they don’t yield good financial rewards. My excellent academic results meant that I should focus on more serious careers like law or medicine. I thought I was being adventurous when I picked Journalism, then Landscape Architecture. 

More than a decade later, I am neither a journalist nor a landscape architect. Instead, I started a little specialty dessert and coffee house out of the frustration of not knowing how to live up to my potential and enjoy it at the same time. The first few years were a hard slog. Long days and many nights always on my feet. Short nights and early mornings with hardly enough sleep. Although no one said it to my face, I knew my family was at the very least perplexed about why I chose a laborious job over something more comfortable at a desk. 

The mini desserts I was making eventually turned into modern trendsetting buttercream cakes and the coffee house turned into an industry leading designer cake studio and workshop. My cakes were highly sought after, with clients even flying me overseas to make their wedding cakes. Then came the in-person workshops. I have taught over 100 in-person workshops to date in multiple cities around the world such as London, Auckland, Singapore, and Sydney. Students flew into our Melbourne studio from everywhere including France, the US, UK, Argentina, Panama.

It has been one exciting ride so far, for sure. More importantly, it has been a huge learning experience. I’ve learnt that being able to express myself through creating is the best reward, regardless of financial implications. However, being able to create smartly is the key to success. And sharing how to create smartly is the reason why I’m here.

My goal is to push and sometimes, break boundaries. These boundaries are where one design field ends and another begins; where old traditions expire and new conventions emerge and where the currency of our work is self-value, not just money.  I want to nurture a new generation of cake makers and creatives who value their time, mental wellbeing and creative energy, who can achieve creative success by working smarter, not harder. 

These days, if I’m not running around after my 2 year old daughter, you can find me on our social media channels sharing daily inspirations, inside our online courses teaching efficient modern caking systems & techniques, or collaborating with our students in our exclusive DTC Student Group on Facebook. 

FREE GUIDE

How Much Buttercream Do I Need?

We’ll show you exactly how to work out buttercream quantities for every cake size. Eliminate guesswork and take control with this free guide.

Listen to my interview on

Everything is Teachable.

In this episode, we’ll learn how Thao taught herself to bake and decorate cakes, and how one Instagram DM launched her cake decorating workshop business. We also talk about how her business has evolved over the last six years, and most of all, we share why it’s so important to value your work and get paid for what you do.