In today’s Student Spotlight, we’re bringing you Thao Tran from Earl Grey & Lavender!
For Thao, cake design is currently a side hustle in her life. She decided to start making her cakes when she had a baby! Surprising herself with her first cake, she figured maybe she should start making them for friends! As it turns out, her friends and family were just as impressed!
What’s your business?
Where are you from?
What’s your background?
I currently work remotely on the Business Intelligence & Data Enterprise team for a huge firm. I’ve been remote for many years (before Covid) and it really allows me to complete many tasks in the morning, during my lunch hour, and immediately after corporate hours. I run to the market to grab ingredients and am able to complete all my errands within my break, rather than being stuck at an office, in traffic or on a train. I was previously working in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area where I worked for a few different big names. Not as exciting as it sounds lol!
Cakes and cupcakes are currently my side hustle. I’ve been hustling them since giving birth to my first child and it’s been helping to keep my husband home more! He can work less hours and help me out at home which is preferred. My husband had two different careers prior to our marriage, but now our roles have completely switched. Besides being a new Mom, I now have two much more satisfying careers which allows him to chill out at home!
Tell us your story! How did you get into baking?
I did not grow up baking or learning any sort of baking from my Mom. Her and I are probably the worst at baking actually. I am huge on cooking, but baking does not come naturally. Following exact recipes was and still is so tough for me. I’ve had to learn on my own and it’s been years now of perfecting recipes and figuring out different ovens. Creativity is more of a challenge when it comes to baking. I was pregnant when I made my first cake and it turned out amazing!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement has been mastering buttercream and the art of frosting a cake. There are a ton of tips and tricks I use besides those I learned from the DTC course. I’m able to achieve an extremely straight, smooth, and tall cake without using any sort boards or rods.
Any cake disaster story?
I’ve not had a disaster story yet and I hope to never run into this situation. I have given a customer the wrong flavor once but it wasn’t the end of the world. I’ve learned that communication is difficult to tackle. I should really consider an assistant!
Where do you see the future of your business (or cake-making)?
I’m hoping to offer more items on my menu along with new designs. Perhaps edible flowers!
Do you have a favourite cake you've designed?
I no longer have a favourite cake as of today. I have been loving all of the cakes I’ve made as of late. They’re becoming more and more satisfying to look at!
How about a favourite cake decorating style?
My favourite decorating style is still a smooth monotone cake. I love the simplicity.
Besides cakes, what other types of bakes do you enjoy creating & decorating?
I’ve been offering cupcakes as of 2022, but I hope to one day offer cookies or macarons. It is extremely difficult to find time to be creative with two toddlers!
What DTC course have you enrolled in and how have they helped you?
I enrolled in the Buttercream Mastery Course and will admit I still haven’t completed everything it has to offer. I took what I learned thus far and just ran with it. So far so good!
What made you decide to take an online course?
I’ve never taken any sort of baking course besides the buttercream course. I wanted to try something new and the DTC cake was more my style. I also wanted to cut my time down in half since I feel like time is never on my side!
I decided to take one of DTC’s online courses to learn new techniques. I liked what I saw on DTC instagram, Thao’s style, attention to detail, sharp edges and straight lines. I especially liked the simplicity of all the cakes (which is absolutely more my style).
What advice do you have for people starting out in their modern cake making journey?
Practice makes for a perfect cake! Keep going and never give up. Use family or close friends as your taste testers. They are always brutally honest. Volunteer for events (which I do often) and just have fun with it! I always take the opportunity to make cupcakes for my daughter’s school events, family parties, or activities happening within my community. It’s great for marketing!
There’s always something new to learn every day. Keep up with all the practice, testing recipes, calibrating the oven, monitor the weather, and consider all possibilities.
Check out Thao's work
Connect with Thao
Courses Thao is enrolled in
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