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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!

Comments

  1. Josanne says:

    Thanks Michelle for that advice. I recently opened a small restaurant and sometimes i feel like giving up due to the amount of challenges. I will be taking your advice and taking my time to grow in this industry

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