We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Toperoff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When it was time for me to go back to work after having my second child, I wanted to find a profession that I not only really enjoyed and was relatively good at, but one that also allowed me to work from home and have flexibility within my day so that I could be there for my kids when they needed me (which was quite a lot at that time because they were really young). I explored some options related to my previous profession and that did seem to be workable but not all that fun. Baking hadn’t even occurred to me. In my mind, baking was a hobby and fun pastime and not necessarily a career. That was until one of my friends approached me at my kid’s birthday party and asked where I had bought the cake. When I told her I had made and decorated it myself, she asked me why I don’t sell my cakes. I laughed and thanked her for the compliment. Later that week I got to thinking and explored the idea of starting a business baking cakes from home. That’s how it all started. My business grew rapidly and soon I was spending all my time (days and nights) working (baking, decorating, creating a website, responding to emails, finding and ordering supplies and advancing my skill set) and out the window went that balance I had originally set to achieve. It took me about a year of many late nights and early mornings to build my skill set and figure out how many orders I could reasonably take on without compromising either quality or my family time. Six years later, there are still weeks when I work too much. Sometimes that is because a customer needs to add to their order because of last minute RSVP’s, I feel the need to add some elements to an order because “the cake just needs it”, or a cake just takes more time than expected (a constant reminder of the fact that cake is the boss….not me). But when that happens, I do try to balance it out with a slower week where I spend more time with my family. All in all, it does work out and thankfully, my family is very supportive and loving.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The appeal of this industry called “caking’ was that it required both science/engineering and art. I have always been attracted to both areas but had trouble finding a career that used both in ways that excited me. I have always gravitated towards realism in art and, while I don’t think of myself as ‘artsy’, I do know that I can create relatively accurate likenesses and add my own creative spin. Being able to do so in an edible format was my “Wow!” moment, when I knew this was what I wanted to do… and I love it! What might set me apart from others in this industry is my consistency (in both look and taste) and my ability to walk someone through the ordering process in a way that allows them to get the product they really want. I work hard to listen so that I can understand what my customers want and need, In addition, if I am working on a cake and feel the design needs something else, I will add it at my cost because the desire to put out the best product I can and achieve maximum satisfaction is what counts the most to me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Great question! And a bit hard to answer because it would depend on many factors but, in an ideal world, we would go on a long bike ride followed by a hearty breakfast at The Mission Cafe, followed by an easy walk along the Pacific Beach/Mission Bay boardwalk. Then we would spend the afternoon on a kayak or a catamaran at the Mission Bay Sports Center. The day would end with dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant, Boto Sushi, followed by cupcakes, freshly roasted S’mores and laughter over our fire table at home. Day 2 would start with a hike through the Santa Luz/Black Mountain hiking trails followed by a picnic and volleyball/frisbee/kite flying at a local park and end with a delicious meal at Veggie Grill or Poke UTC, window shopping and a Nutella banana crepe at the UTC Mall.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe every ounce of my success to my exceptionally supportive, helpful and loving family: My husband Will and daughters Zoe and Hannah, as well as my parents Joan and Ivor, and my in-laws RaeLynne and Gil.
Yelp: Treat Confectionery (https://www.yelp.com/biz/treat-confectionery-san-diego?osq=Treat+Confectionery)