By Elizabeth Mabie
An Ottawa woman has mixed two fields of study together to create a successful business baking and decorating cakes for every occasion.
Catherine Beddall is a graduate of Algonquin’s graphic design program and baking and pastry arts program. For 13 years, she was a graphic designer and started making cakes in her spare time for friends and family.
“It grew sort of into a part-time business,” said Beddall. “That was about eight or nine years ago.”
When she had her first daughter she made her birthday cake. After that some people started asking for cakes and Beddall thought she could work at her graphic design job and do this part-time.
“I was doing that for a couple of years and then I had my second baby and things just got a little bit too much, so I stopped making cakes for a while.”
Realizing she wasn’t happy with her job and missed making cakes, Beddall quit and decided to go back to school. She received her diploma in baking and pastry arts in the spring of 2013.
“All my decorating skills are self-taught,” said Beddall. “I went to Algonquin to get a certification in baking incase I wanted to work at a bakery eventually.”
Beddall is now a part-time professor at the college, teaching in the part-time patissier program. She also works at a bakery in Little Italy and runs her own business, Catherine’s Cakery, full-time from home.
Although she loves her business, running it and making customers happy is no cakewalk. The job is stressful and time intensive, especially when it comes to brides and their wedding cakes. Beddall has had to pull all-nighters to ensure the job is done on time and make sure her clients are satisfied with her service.
She has support from her family who offer to help her out. Her husband makes deliveries when she is pressed for time and her two young daughters enjoy being in the kitchen with her, but all the work on the cakes is hers.
Beddall’s graphic design skills contribute to her creations. She also takes inspiration from fashion and design when creating wedding cakes. Works of art, nature, food, and fabrics also inspire her.
“I would say that it’s my biggest contributing factor to what I feel like is my success in this field,” said Beddall. “You really need to, as well as baking and having manual skills, have to have a sense of design, colour, and composition. It’s really, really helped me in that regard.”
Beddall is hoping to expand her business in the future and move to a commercial space for more room to work.
“What I really want to do is teach,” said Beddall. “I love teaching at Algonquin. That’s been great, but I’d love to branch out and do some courses of my own. There are a couple areas of cake decorating that I would really love to teach. Another thing I want to do is teach kids. I think that would be fun.”
“That’s my focus; to get experience at the bakery I’m working at and eventually make it all Catherine’s Cakery and branch out from that.”