I had the privilege of sitting down and chatting with Leah, the owner of INK Sweets! She was such a delight, and has an amazing personality (& makes some wicked cool cakes). Keep reading to learn about her and her business!
Tell me about yourself and the history of INK Sweets…
“I started decorating cakes almost 11 years ago now, just for fun. The show Ace of Cakes was on and so I was like this is amazing, I’m going to do this for the rest of time! So I did. That’s like the only background of me. I’m kind of one of very few that had a very clear path early on. INK is only 2 years old, and I’m from just outside of Chicago so I’ve only been in Minnesota for about 2 ½ – 3 years. Essentially the goal of all of this is to open brides and grooms up to the idea of not having to fit in a traditional box. I really loathe that when you go to a wedding it’s like copy and paste with different colors every time you go. And although I can’t control every aspect of your wedding, I can control your cake. The goal is to create something that is unexpected, and wow’s people and is weird sometimes. That’s kind of the goal, to push the non-traditional, which is fun. I don’t like traditional.” 🙂
What sets INK Sweets apart from other cake/bakery artists out there?
“I’m not so out of the box and so weird, but I definitely don’t like falling into lines. I don’t like boring. I like things a little weird. I’m not afraid of me and so I try to bring that to all my cakes which I think not everyone does. There are a lot of people in the cities that can make beautiful cakes and do really beautiful work but I don’t feel that there is anyone here that has a very clear vision and style that sets them apart, and there’s nothing wrong with that! But the whole goal is to push the weird, push things out of the box and do more interesting shapes and colors. I hope that when someone sees a cake I made, that they can tell it’s mine, and that’s kind of what sets me apart.
I think the other thing too are sugar flowers, those are kind of my jam. And again, there are people in the cities who do them, but I thrive on the details of them. So I hope that also sets me apart, that someone can look at them and thinks that’s crazy, but I know who made that.”
Do you specialize in any area like weddings or do you create cakes and desserts for any event?
“I can make a cake for anything, and I like to remind people of that. I push weddings, they’re my favorite thing to do, but I can really make a cake for anything. I don’t get to do them much anymore, but I would really love to be doing more is sculpted novelty cakes. I love them and I feel like I’m really good at them, but I don’t do them that often anymore. My two favorites I’ve ever done was a life size Gibson Les Paul guitar. It was crazy, probably the greatest thing I’ve ever done, and a couple years ago I made a gigantic version of the Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter with the teeth and the fur. They’re so fun! So that’s something I also feel like I do really, really well but don’t get to do that much anymore. So if there’s anyone reading this, buy a novelty cake… Because I love them!” 🙂
What can couples expect to see and experience when they choose INK Sweets as their cake lady?
“My goal is that it’s fun, and that you feel heard, and that it’s just an overall enjoyable experience. Again, I don’t want it to be cookie cutter, I don’t want to have you fill out a questionnaire and we puzzle piece it together. I want to sit down and have a conversation; tell me about yourself, let me into your world and relationship. That’s where the best cakes come from; a little story about how you met or about how he/she proposed. It’s always the details. My goal is to make sure it’s a personal, fun experience.”
Do you have any tips for couples searching for the perfect baker for their wedding day?
“My advice is to ask a lot of questions, do some research, and know your budget but be open to ideas. My biggest pet peeve is when someone comes in with their phone or a bunch of printed out photos and they want me to make them that cake, that’s not what I’m here for. They should hire someone else in the cities who will do a beautiful job, but that’s not my style. Also, look at your options. If you meet someone else and you like them, you should still come talk to me. Take the hour, come to the tasting, because I may be able to offer something another artist can’t.”
What is the best part about being in the cake/dessert industry?
“Oh it’s so fun. It’s such a fun job. I get to make cake, and make it pretty, for a living. The best part is when you get those couples that trust you 100%. It feels really good and it’s fun to be able to do whatever you want. It’s just a fun job!”
I saw on your website you also do cookies. Do you offer other anything else?
“I offer some options for sweet tables. I offer a selection of cookies, sugar cookies, bars, brownies, salted caramel bars, cupcakes, mini cupcakes, cake pops, hand pies in the fall… I’ve got some other stuff up my sleeve.”
Tell me your favorite thing about working in this industry.
“Aside from physically making cakes, I just like the people. And that’s saying something because I am not a social butterfly. I have found in this industry that people are just really great.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“Bake. That’s the one thing I miss about culinary school; that you get to make something different every day. If I have a day off, I will probably be baking something random. Something I don’t really get to bake anymore. I also just joined a bouldering gym. I’m really bad at it, but it’s really fun. Otherwise I watch a lot of movies, I’m very introverted, so when I’m not working I’m probably just sitting on the couch.”
If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to get into this same industry, what would it be?
“It’s a lot of work, especially if you’re going to do your own thing. I never wanted to own my own business until I realized that working for other people and executing their aesthetics and their designs wasn’t my jam. So within a week I decided I was going to do this. It’s a really cool job, it’s very fun and very rewarding, but it’s a lot of work. Owning a business is hard but even decorating cakes is hard, and I’ve been doing it for 11 years. I look at people on Instagram and I’m still not even scratching the surface of some of the talent that people around the world have. You have to know that you’re never going to be satisfied because you’re always going to push to be better, which is good, but hard.”
When I stumbled across Leah’s cakes, I was BLOWN AWAY by how beautiful her work is! To find out more information, or schedule an appointment with Leah from INK Sweets, visit her website here: https://www.inksweets.com