Dayna Van Overbeke’s venture into the world of cake decorating began after a disastrous attempt at making her son’s first birthday cake.
“It was pathetic,” said Van Overbeke of Pip & Dex Custom Cakes. “It was an attempt at a baseball theme and it ended up flat with melted icing.”
Rather than forget about it, she decided to take a few cake decorating classes at Chantilly Kitchen (now Big Mountain Kitchen & Linen).
“The first cake I did the teacher was amazed,” she said.
Van Overbeke then started making cupcakes and different flowers, posting pictures of the cakes she was making on her Facebook page. Shortly after Van Overbeke had someone contact her to ask if she would consider making a birthday cake for them.
“It started out word of mouth. It was for friends and family, for birthdays. After that it just took off. I started putting pictures online and people started calling me out of nowhere.”
With 123 cakes made and decorated since 2011, Van Overbeke is now venturing out into the world of business.
While the original intention was to wait until her children (ages two and five) were in school, the high demand means the former CP Rail engineer is going ahead with business plans a little sooner.
“A year ago it started getting to the point where I had so many orders I was falling behind in my daily routine,” said Van Overbeke, who says she tries not to work on cakes while her children are around.
“I have so many cake supplies it’s taking over my house. It’s happening faster than I want, but it’s a good push. A lot more opportunity comes with being a business.”
Her goal is to be open for business by the start of next year. “I have a lot of support from my family,” she said.
It’s incredibly time consuming, with each cake taking anywhere from five to 25 hours to complete. Van Overbeke makes her cakes entirely by hand but is hoping she can eventually purchase an edible printer and air brushing machine.
The creative license on each cake is dependant on the customer. Sometimes people have an exact cake in mind – usually something they’ve seen in a magazine or on a webpage – and other times people will approach her with a budget and a theme.
Most recently, Van Overbeke made a Batman-themed cake where she was given free reign. To get ideas, she spent time researching different photos of Batman cakes online. The best components from each were then used as part of the finished product.
So, what cakes have been Van Overbeke’s favourite? That’s difficult for her to choose, however two that stand out are a 1950s theme cake she made for her aunt’s 60th birthday and a cake with butterflies she made for her niece’s baby shower.
Then, of course, there is the cake she made for a Calgary couple that just happened to be featured in the 2014 issue of Bridal Fantasy Living.
Pip & Dex Custom Cakes can be found on Facebook.