Wednesday, 22 September 2010

MEET: April of Pure Inspirations

April Collinge is the creative talent behind, award-winning, bespoke cake-making, handmade chocolate and flower arranging business Pure Inspirations. April specialises in making sumptuous cakes and chocolates for all occasions: Weddings, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christenings & Communions and Christmas. April's mother is the talent behind Pure Inspiration's floristry work - a true family affair! UK Handmade caught up with April to find out more about her gorgeous creations and how she got into cake making

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started?
I have always loved being involved with creative projects and experimented with all sorts of media from glass painting, printing, sewing, batik to jewellery making. Once my mum finished her sugar-craft courses at Brooklands College, she took on more and more commissioned cakes and my first experience of helping her was a large wedding cake, about 7 years ago, which we had agreed to deliver to an obscure address in Wales! It was definitely an adventure.

Since then, I have also completed Wired Sugar Flower, Royal Icing and Cake Decoration courses at Brooklands and have followed in my mum's footsteps with my own cake-decorating business, Pure Inspirations. My courses proved invaluable both in teaching health and safety aspects of the job (crucial if you are selling to the public or even friends), networking with other people who have the same love of decorating and picking up inside tips.

Tell us about the awards you have won?
Salon Culinaire NEC 2007: Brooklands College like to encourage their students to take part in competitions so I entered a couple of competitions at NEC Birmingham & received a ‘class winner’ silver award for my cake entry into the sugar-paste ‘Decorated Celebration Cake’ category and a bronze for my orchid flowers which for my first competition was very exciting! I'd like to enter more if I could only find the time somewhere!

What do you love most about making cakes?
What I love about this job is playing detective, being able to tap into personal information about my client and evolving it into something elegant, simple and, depending on the requirements, fun; something to put a wide grin on my client's face or make them gasp with admiration! My task is proved more challenging when I am asked to make a cake without any personal feedback from the client. Bespoke cakes work best when there is at least a hint of the recipient's personality. For corporate requirement's it's easy to incorporate logos in a creative way (I have recently made a mortar board cake which incorporates the American School logo).

What do you find the most frustrating part of your job?
To be a cake decorator you do have to love your job as there is only a small part of the market who can charge enough for their cakes to make it majorly profitable. Anyone who makes cakes to a professional standard will know the basic edible and inedible item costs for quality products and they are not reflected when the public look at supermarket factory-made cakes. People can't help to compare a bit despite the fact that they really don't compare.

Is handmade a lifestyle choice for you and if so why?
My business is very much a home-based business and I enjoy having total control of each commission from inception to finish. Each job is as important as the next. I am a glutton for 'giving things a go' in general so the handmade touch is definitely a way of living I aspire to. I do all my own decorating and have even painted my house myself! I like to be able to stand back and say "I did that!" As I get older I'm not afraid to be openly proud!

How do you balance your work and home life, what do you do to wind down?
I like my life to be as varied as my cakes! I'm usually busy with my daytime teaching assistant job, making cakes and studying towards my psychology degree so I play hockey or spend time with my family to wind down.

What are your plans for 2011?
I'm looking forward to my next challenge in 2011: teaching wired sugar flower techniques at workshops for the public.

1 comment:

Alexandra Snowdon said...

Wow! beautiful cakes, you're a very talented girl April!