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Michelle Sohan of Bakery Treatz-Wedding Professional of the Month

Photo by Avenue-Photo.com

​Interviewed by Tracey Manailescu.
I am so happy to share this month’s WPIC Wedding Professional of the Month with you!
Michelle Sohan of Bakery Treatz is from Trinidad and Tobago . We first met Michelle Sohan in Barbados for the WPIC certification course two and a half years ago. Michelle introduced herself to the class with business cards and cake for everyone (that she brought with her from Trinidad).  She was so funny, charming and confident that the entire class couldn’t help but fall in love with her and her mad baking skills. Her designs are stunning and they taste amazing, too!
Fast forward to four months later: Danielle and I were speakers at the Jamaica Bridal Expo two years ago, and they announced that they were having a cake competition. I told Michelle about it, and she jumped on a plane to be there to compete.  She won!
She has won many competitions before and after this, including being nominated for the Best Cake in the World! You are unstoppable and I adore you!
My name is Michelle Sohan, and I am a cake artist!!!
I have been blessed, as my job of decorating cakes is truly a passion I live for! I didn’t always want to be a decorator, in fact, I was happily working in the food industry for a big snack food plant in quality control when I fell down a flight of stairs to the lab.
That was the moment my life changed.
Or course, at the time , I thought I was doomed. My life was great up until that point, a good job, pursuing my masters, and in a settled relationship. But I do believe in God, I do believe that things “happen” for a reason. And this was no different, I just could not see it at that time.
We had a bake sale at the university, and I asked my sister,the baker in the family, to help me make some cakes. Again, up until then, I was highly allergic to doing anything in the kitchen other than washing up the wares! My sisters were the cooks, I was in charge of making up beds, vacuuming etc.
The bake sale was a success, more for my stuff than anything else that was selling. So much so, that people who tasted the cake slices asked if I took orders. That was the question that completely brought me to where I am today. With no more knowledge than what I’d seen my sister doing in the kitchen, I said yes!
I would walk around the campus and take orders during the week, then bake on a Thursday and prepare the orders for delivery early Friday morning before the start of my class.  This actually helped me to pay for my studies, as I was no longer working.
Eventually, I did return to a regular industry job, but continued baking and supplying several restaurants weekly. Eventually, I took the bold step of opening my very own bakery.
The name, Bakery Treatz, I came up with that name with the help of my sister, I wanted a name that was definitely new, I didn’t want to copy a name that existed anywhere else in the world,  well as far as googling could prove. I even designed my own logo, I still have the envelope that I had sketched it out on!
I didn’t know about bread but that didn’t stop me. I got a location near to my home, one that was at the entrance to residential area, and I started!  I’ve never looked back, and event day I thank god for that accident 16 years ago. My appreciation for the simplest things in life is my driving force. The very first thing I can recall after the accident, was being able to walk into our back yard and pick a lime from one of our trees for a cheesecake recipe. And I stopped to think, how many people in the world would never even see a lime tree!  How lucky I was. It’s what I impart on my workers, that each customer is important, each sale is not just about the money, but about the emotions of the customer, that they are satisfied, they are happy when leaving the bakery, and even more so when they sit to enjoy what we’ve made.
Today, my bakery is 13 years old! It’s been a long journey, I’ve been through many challenges, mainly because I was a young single female who had to stand ground with a predominantly male dominated industry as most bakeries are family owned, usually with the husband at the realm. But, I’m a good observer, and I learn very quickly. I am happy that I’ve never settled to stay inside the box, I have always been driven to be different, to create interest and to be unique. My international exposures through competitions and demonstrations have been remarkable in my development as an artist.
 
It was my top priority to stand out from other bakery operations. I am always thinking about what’s next, because so far, we have the copycat effect any time  we introduce something new. And I in no way take that to be anything but a compliment, and also a challenge.
Our product mix makes us unique, as we can create something new, very quickly, or still offer a long time favorite as the customer requests.
The bakery plays an extremely important role in the lives of our customers, and we try not to loose sight that we have become  part of the fabric of the community. People come back to tell us about their cake, how surprised the birthday person was, how overjoyed the bride was to see her creation… It’s a feeling that words cannot express, it’s the ultimate satisfaction after a long day, a difficult week.
The key to our success is in providing a high-quality product, in a unique environment, with genuinely great service . We get so many compliments about our service, which is not so much a focus in Trinidad.
My advice for anyone who wants to become a cake decorator as a professional is that firstly, make sure you love it and that you completely understand this is not a job of convenience. It requires many many hours of sacrifice and dedication. I have never celebrated a Valentine’s Day, nor in the last 13 years, have I spent with family for Mother’s Day, both being the busiest days for cakes! And secondly, it is very important to grow and develop into the art, it does not happen overnight, so take your time and develop the skills that will make you the best you can be, focus on you, and not on others, and be positive!

D + A’s Rustic Barn Wedding

by Danielle Andrews, President of WPIC Inc.
When WPIC Alum, Melanie Parent, of Melanie Parent Events first told me about this beautiful rustic barn wedding she had coordinated in Manitoba, I just knew we had to feature it on the Blog.
Here, Melanie tells us all about this detail-rich wedding:

This wedding was truly impressive. When I first met with Danielle and Andrew they shared with me there vision in great deal. From day one, this couple had the design details figured out, from start to finish Pinterest had helped them cover all aspects!

This laid back duo wanted to play up the rustic glam look. They kept there colour palette simple and complimentary to the wood and natural vibe of the space by using shades of purples, grey’s and pops of pinks.

Danielle and Andrew took a barn wedding and turned into vintage meets rustic with a touch of elegance. From the traditional barn elements to sparkling chandeliers, this event was a Pinterest dream for me and my team.

The Rustic Wedding Barn was the perfect setting to host an outdoor afternoon. This wedding had so many fun elements for the guest to enjoy. From a romantic ceremony with live musicians to an outdoor drink station with personalized mugs.

And when it came to keeping guest entertained the DIY lawn games took centre stage! These over-sized lawn games were hand made by the groom and brides father. They truly made the event that much more relaxed and you could tell everyone was enjoying themselves while engaging in friendly competition.

Also, can’t forget to mention the seating… guest couldn’t believe the vintage furniture that had been brought in. Comfortable and unique it was a great conversation piece.

Once the reception began, the couple had hired an amazing bartending team called Bee’s Knees, these guys had the crowd going. They were so interactive and made amazing specialty drinks created by the couple themselves. The cake and pie bar were the perfect night cape and everyone left with a jam jar in had as thank you favour from the couple.”

 


What a beautiful wedding!  Thank you for sharing it with us Melanie!  And thank you to your wonderful couple, congratulations Danielle & Andrew!

Vendor Love:
Venue: The Rustic Weddings Barn, LaBroquerie MB
Photographer: blf studions inc.
Furniture: The Vintage Nest

How to be a Wedding Planners Assistant – Seriously!


by Amanda Kueneman, WPICC, of Like a Star Weddings

Planning and managing weddings is a stressful time for wedding planners.  No matter how seasoned a planner may be each wedding is unique and needs our undivided attention.  The great thing about being part of WPIC, is we all have the opportunity to work with other certified planners who have the same training, and code of ethics to rely on.

Being an assistant is no small feat, whether you are volunteering and getting some amazing hands on experience, or are being paid to assist a fellow WPIC.  Remember, you are representing the Lead Planner’s company that they built from their own blood, sweat and tears!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when assisting:

Read your contract thoroughly

Make sure you understand what is expected of you, and what your duties of the day will be.  Each Lead will have a legally binding contract with THEIR couples, and your contract will reflect that.  Some Lead’s will allow you to take personal photos while others may not.  If you will be provided with professional photos, ask what you are allowed to do with them after the wedding.  Many times, you can use them in your hard copy portfolio only – giving full credit to the Lead.  Double check with the Lead to see if you can share/repost photos on your social media sites too.  Confirm the times you will be expected to work with the Lead.  You may be able to leave after all the milestones are complete, or after dinner service, but do not ask to leave early.  Plan to be there for the duration of the reception.

Dress the Part

Some planners have a brand or business image and dress accordingly.  This may be written in your contract so understand what you are expected to wear.  The Lead is looking out for you, as well as their image, so dress appropriately.  If the Lead knows there will be a lot of set up/bending/climbing there is a reason, they would want you in pants and not a dress.  I always tell my assistants to dress as a guest but on a more professional side so that they are comfortable, and able to work confidently through the day.

Take Initiative

You are there to assist the Lead as much as the couple who is getting married.  You are the Lead’s right hand, so if you see they are busy dealing with a manager, or even going over something with the couple or DJ, and you see something needs to be done jump in and help out – don’t tell the Lead what needs to be done.  Be proactive!  Jump in and fix that chair cover, or help a bridesmaid sew her dress strap.  Don’t wait to be told what to do.  You and the Lead to be working as a cohesive duo.

Respect the Lead and the Couple

As I mentioned before, the Lead built their company from an idea to their business, and you are a reflection of that business.  Carry yourself in a professional manner, and act in a discreet and tactful way.  Do not dig into family issues, act inappropriately or do something that may offend the Lead or guests.  Remember that even during dinner service or downtime you are still representing the Lead.  If you are sitting at a guest table, act as a guest, and be aware of the events and happenings during the reception.  The wedding needs your full attention at all times, so do not start a selfie marathon during dinner, or hijacking a guest’s snapchat story!

Do not under any circumstance talk about your company (if you have one) or your weddings. Even if this is not written in the contract you signed, be aware or your conversations and actions.

Just remember when you offer to assist a Lead planner; they trust you to represent them and their brand with respect.  Like the old saying goes “treat others how you would like to be treated”.  So act as if you are representing your own company.


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