This is the Transcript of the #WeddingMarket Chat on April 16th, 2014 with The Leonardo DaVinci of Cakes Sylvia Weinstock. The answers were made on Twitter so responses will appear different.
Sylvia Weinstock Biography
Sylvia Weinstock married in 1949, learning domestic skills while working as a Long Island elementary school teacher. She soon became a proficient chef and baker.
Sylvia, husband Benjamin, and their family of three daughters spent many weekends skiing at Hunter Mountain, New York. Unlike the rest of the family, Sylvia did not ski. But it was Hunter where Sylvia met André Soltner, of Lutèce fame. Soltner recommended Sylvia become an apprentice to pastry chef George Kellner, who operated a guesthouse on the mountain. Sylvia was a star pupil, and before long she was supplying local restaurants with dessert selections on weekends while her family hit the slopes.
Her children were in college when Sylvia was diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring a mastectomy and a course of chemotherapy three times a week. During this time of healing, Sylvia was asked by baker William Greenberg, Jr. if she could begin to fulfill orders of romantic floral cakes that he had no time to do. It was then that Sylvia developed her signature hand-made, sugar paste flowers…and Sylvia Weinstock Cakes was born.
Sylvia’s secret of success is simple: there are no shortcuts. Her cakes are made of the finest ingredients to insure every client – down the street or around the world – receives a fresh, moist cake AND delicious work of art.
Sylvia looks upon her success as an artisan of romantic, beautiful cakes as a reward for diligence in her fight against breast cancer, and believes conquering her illness created a better life. As a result, Sylvia devotes a substantial portion of her free time to bolstering the spirits of those afflicted with breast cancer, and is a generous contributor to organizations supporting medical research in the fight.
Learn More About Sylvia Weinstock at http://www.sylviaweinstock.com
1) How did you start baking?
Sylvia Weinstock: My family skied and I didn’t, which left me to bake. I started selling cake to local chefs and soon I had a business.
2) When did you start making wedding cakes as a business?
Sylvia Weinstock: I was about 50 and survived breast cancer so it was a sign to do something fun that I loved – that was 33 years ago!
3) What do you say to people wanting to start a business late in life?
Sylvia Weinstock: I say: unless you are dead, there is no “late in life”! Get your skills together…and go for it! Age is a number
4) Is Pinterest changing the process of how brides select cakes?
Sylvia Weinstock: Yes and no: brides see more but usually want their own style or “signature” in the end. Personal is the priority. Pinterest gives personal style a place to start.
5) What is a normal week for Sylvia Weinstock?
Sylvia Weinstock: Hopefully a lot of weddings, celebrations and meeting many interesting people.
6) What are the big trends in wedding cake this year?
Sylvia Weinstock: Lots of patterning with bridal gowns and sophisticated flavors — salted caramel and sour cherry.
7) How much do sw wedding cakes start at?
Sylvia Weinstock: No “start price”: every cake is its own size, design and destination.
8) How does your company handle social media on a regular basis?
Sylvia Weinstock: I have a fb page and i’m tweeting with you right now. We use it when there is something to say!
9) You recently celebrated your 65th wedding anniversary! Does your husband help with the business?
Sylvia Weinstock: He was my first and best business partner, now he’s retired.
10) What is one of your most favorite cakes that you have designed?
Sylvia Weinstock: Always the last one I finished: like your children, there are no favorites!
11) Your cakes travel the world. How is a cake prepared so it stays in one piece when it arrives?
Sylvia Weinstock: It is all about special construction, packing and handling…and I request a gentle landing from pilots.
12) Any events or interesting projects coming up?
Sylvia Weinstock: I am opening my first retail store ever this year, in the middle east…stay tuned!
13) What was it like to work with the Kennedy Family?
Sylvia Weinstock: Very easy, very wonderful, cooperative, a joyous event for all! 3 weddings, some birthdays. Lovely.
14) What advice do you have for the Wedding Industry?
Sylvia Weinstock: Learn your craft and pay your dues.
15) What would you like everyone to take away from this #weddingmarket chat?
Sylvia Weinstock: I would like them to always be inspired, and to remember: dessert is the “wow” at the end of a meal.
#WeddingMarket Questions From Twitter:
1. @Wed_Developer How do you stay true to your designs while meeting the demands of #wedding couples?
Sylvia Weinstock: Weddings are a collaboration and teamwork of all vendors. We guide the client and listen to their input.
2. @Wed_Developer What is the most outrageous #wedding #cake you every made?
Sylvia Weinstock: Haven’t done it yet!
3. @carolynburkestl Do you like to work with wedding planners? What percentage of your couples have a wedding planner?
Sylvia Weinstock: LOVE to work w/ planners, they relieve the stress from the bride. Half of our clients come with a planner.
4. @KelsiWIV Do you have advice for brides who want to display their cakes at an outdoor reception in a humid climate? Would you suggest fondant to a bride who had her mind made up about an outdoor reception?
Sylvia Weinstock: Don’t do it! You need A/C for a delicious butter cream cake. I don’t eat fondant, use fondant, or serve fondant. Bring out the cake at last moment before serving to display.
5. @MariellOnline What was the hardest thing for you about starting a new business?
Sylvia Weinstock: Getting my name out to the public.
6. @Wed_Developer Looking back at starting your business, is there anything you would have done differently?
Sylvia Weinstock: Should have used social media earlier!
7. @Sweetestevents_ Have you ever had a request to do a cake inspired by Radiant – Orchid (Pantone color of the yr))? Do you design and make Faux Cakes for planners or wedding professionals to display? How do you feel about the Cake Trend that incorporates birthday candles on the cake?
Sylvia Weinstock: Yes absolutely, the hot colors now are violet, lavender, and purple. We do have some in our shop, so clients can get an idea or inspiration. I have no problem with that, but some venues such as museums, may not allow burning candles!
8. @LoveStyleEvents Was there one moment that launched you into grand success? That really got your name out there?
Sylvia Weinstock: A cake YEARS ago, for a VIP, could have been any of our well known clients early on.
9. @amorojewelry Where do some of your design ideas come from? How do you deal with Bridezilla’s wanting extravagant cakes?
Sylvia Weinstock: Having an open mind and open eyes, noticing the dress, the patterns chosen, the room, everything has design. We don’t have bridezilla’s we have challenges : )
10. @HollyMatrimony How do you feel about the naked wedding cake?
Sylvia Weinstock: Like a naked bride, it needs something on it!
11. @silkedisa I want to know how far you have travelled with a cake?
Sylvia Weinstock: India, Ireland, Morocco, France, Italy… Kuwait, Saudi Arabia… all over a period of years.