Here at Polka Dot Bride, we are so inspired by and have the utmost respect for the chicks who are kicking goals in the wedding industry- and we think they should be celebrated! They’re hard working, creative souls who are often working weekends, travelling long distances, and managing a busy personal life, but are ultimately living their dream and reaching their true potential. To celebrate Polka Dot Bride’s Cake Month, we got to know Gina Tubb, founder of Miss Ladybird Cakes! If you have ever wanted to know what it takes to make it in cakes, Gina tells it to us straight up – the good, the bad and the beautiful!
Photographer by Samara Clifford
We make custom designed wedding and event cakes, with a real focus on using fresh quality ingredients, making everything from scratch and producing a delicious tasting and beautiful looking product.
When did you launch your business?
I launched Miss Ladybird Cakes in April 2013, which means we are almost at our 5th birthday, so that’s super exciting!!
What areas in Victoria do you service?
Can you please tell us about your professional life prior to launching Miss Ladybird Cakes?
I’ve always wanted to own my own business, so I tried to get as much experience in all areas of hospitality. I became a qualified chef, worked in restaurants, catering companies, events companies, bars, and admin. All of it. I felt if I had a broad list of experience this would in turn help me to run a business one day.
Out of all the things you could have done in the chef/hospitality world (considering your extensive experience), what drew you to cakes?
I come from a very arty creative family, so it’s in my blood. If we weren’t climbing trees pretending to be pirates as kids, we were building, drawing, constructing things. Making cakes is the perfect combination of art and food. My two favourite things.
Have you studied or completed courses in pastry, cooking or business management that have helped you with your business?
I am a qualified chef, not a qualified pastry chef. Everything I have learnt in pastry has been from working in different places, or through basic trial and error and research on my own time.
Do you enjoy the admin/business management side of running a business- or is your dream to be in the kitchen baking all day, everyday?
I don’t do admin as I have my girl Jade taking care of that full-time; there are not enough hours in the day for me. However I love doing the accounts. My husband taught me to do the accounts and ever since I took over that aspect of the business I feel like its been a huge step for us and for me. I love knowing where we are spending our money. I think “Is that too much? Can we do less? How does that compare to last month?” Its almost like a game.
What does a typical day-in-the-life of you look like – from the moment you wake up until the moment your head hits the pillow
- 6:30am: Up for coffee and toast on the couch with the dog. I use this time to check through any messages, emails, social media that I need to action for the day.
- 7:30am: Head to work.
- Allocate, trim and drill all cake boards ( 3 – 5 boards per order x 20 orders).
- Deliver wholesale cakes.
- Pick up any fruit or supplies needed.
- Check accounting system / pay some bills etc.
- Help fill any cakes if the girls in the kitchen need it.
- Ganache all my cakes to be ready to fondant for Thursday.
- Place dry goods orders.
- 5pm: Home to walk and feed the dog Vinyl – love of my life haha!
- Cook dinner.
- Watch my current series I’m addicted to on Netflix.
- Pick up the husband from the train station around 9 pm.
- Quick chat to see how his day was.
- 9:30pm Bed.
When is your busiest time of year? How do you cope with the extra demand?
October to April is the busiest, however September and May are quickly jumping on board with that. We know it’s coming so we just jump in and get it done – I don’t think about it, I just do it. I keep social activities to a minimum and try and get some sleep and try and eat good food.
Image supplied by Miss Ladybird Cakes
Is your business a 9am – 5pm workplace or are your hours varied, and include weekends?
Technically we aren’t open to the public. Staff are here from 8am and we are usually all gone by around 4, but it depends on how many orders there are that week. Sundays I do on my own and is generally just a decorate and deliver kind of day. I work 7 days. Usually with a shorter day on Sundays and sometimes Mondays, depending on what time of year it is.
How do you stay on top of industry trends?
Instagram is the easiest and fastest way to keep on top of trends. There are a lot of trends I don’t like (like those blimmen unicorn cakes?! Give it a rest!), but I think that comes down to my own personal taste. We also don’t want to be pumping out the same cakes as everyone else. So we try and take elements of all trends that might apply to our style and incorporate it somehow. But if that doesn’t fit then we don’t bother. We have to stick to our own style and brand ultimately. If I do draw on a particular trend or characteristic that is quite strongly linked to a particular cake decorator’s work then I always try and credit them for the inspiration. We are all artists in our own right and they should always be acknowledged.
Image supplied by Miss Ladybird Cakes
Please tell us about the people on your team?
Jess – 21 year old whizz in the kitchen. Jess is my right hand man, head baker decorator. She makes me feel so old and slow; she is so fast, so thorough and I just cannot wait to see what she does in life, having achieved so much already.
Nat – Our newest team member, an absolutely beautiful soul who lights up the room. She is learning so quickly and is oozing with passion.
Carly – An artist at heart, Carly does all the painting/ artistic work. She has a real passion and flair for a paint brush!
Jade- Admin superstar. Jade deals with all of the people, all the enquiries, logistics. All of it. She’s also very good at helping me keep myself from falling apart.
Jade pictured here. Check out @missladybirdcakes Instagram to get to know the team (and the show-stopping cakes!). Miss Ladybird Cakes has a 100K+ strong following on Instagram, so it’s no wonder this busy little ladybird and her team are run off their feet!
What’s the biggest challenge of running your own business?
Switching off. I don’t, but I’ve also come to realise that I don’t want to. I think the moment I do will be when it’s time to walk away. I live and breath this business and I don’t want it to be any other way.
I love Lemon Tart. It’s easy and it’s blimmen delicious. Simple and so tasty.
Do you have a cake that you’ve made that you are most proud of?
I don’t. Just when you think you’ve got a favourite, another one steps in and you can’t decide. Plus, there are different things I am proud of, like “That whole event went really smoothly” or “The flowers we managed to get for that cake were perfect.” It’s not necessarily the cake that I am the most proud of, but the whole thing. On the other-hand, I made a life-size bust of a Zombie Stormtrooper for my husband’s 30th and that was pretty awesome. Not something anyone would ever order. But it sure was fun!
Can you describe your personal dream wedding cake?
Okay this is a toughie, but for my last wedding anniversary I made a chocolate and stout mud-cake with goat’s cheese buttercream and whisky caramel. It was easily one of my favourite cake flavours! But we would definitely have to have a tier of lemon myrtle citrus cake with loads of lemon curd, and my third favourite flavour, toffee black currant cake. So soft and delicious! For the finish, I am obsessed with Jasmine Rae Cakes in California, so I would have to have something textural like her designs.
What’s the wackiest cake request you’ve received from a bride?
I once had a groom enquire about getting their wedding cake made in the shape of the great wall of china.
Any advice for young aspiring pastry chefs?
I hate to take this straight to the negative, but probably the most common thing I have to get across to people is, it’s not all pretty. It’s not a Disney movie, where you sing and birds pour your ingredients and you spend all day making something look pretty. It’s hard, it’s long hours, it’s hot. There are issues you have to fix. You have to constantly work faster. Yes, we do get to make things look pretty, and if we were only making one cake a week, that would be the prettiest cake. But in reality you are working hard long hours to make 20+ cakes look pretty in a reasonable time frame. I don’t see my friends as often as I’d like. I don’t get days off (that could be me also being a sucker for punishment). You don’t enjoy any weddings you are invited to and are supplying the cake to because you spend all night worried that people won’t like it. But ultimately if you can get past all that, it is rewarding to see people love your product. It is rewarding to look at a fridge full of beautiful cakes.
How have you got the word out there about your business?
Instagram has been great for this, but my favourite would be word of mouth. A large amount of our customers saw and tasted one of our cakes at a wedding, liked it, and got in touch.
What music do you listen to when you are baking?
I’m a big fan of the old stuff, so Neil Young, David Bowie, Janis Joplin and Fleetwood Mac are my regulars.
Image supplied by Miss Ladybird Cakes
All other images in this post were taken by Jai Long from Free the Bird Photography.
Ms Zigzag says: Wow! Gina, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of our questions in between baking and decorating your incredible cakes. We feel like we know so much more about you, your business and what it takes to really make it in the competitive cake industry! We are HUGE fans and cheerleaders of you and your work.
About Gina of Miss Ladybird Cakes: From as early as I can remember, I have spent my time creating things. As a child my mum kindly showed me the many ways of creating beautiful things out of nothing. Our room was always full of trinkets and objects made from anything we could find. Living in the country was a great treasure trove of creativity. As I got older all I wanted to do was help my mother cook dinner. This sudden love for cooking took me to the library where I found loads of big old cooking books. During my week I would take out the cook books and study them over and over again until I had rounded up three good recipes. A big trip to the supermarket later (out of my mother’s pocket of course) I’d spend all weekend creating the new treats. Usually a chocolate cake, a slice of some sort, and some cookies – maybe even a cheesecake, which my father enjoyed especially!