Friday, February 25, 2011

Choosing a diaper cake...

I recently read a list of recommendations on written up by another maker of diaper cakes listing how to choose the right diaper cake. Most of her suggestions, of course, lead a consumer to purchase diaper cakes from her which makes perfect sense, but she does have some really good recommendations if you don't know what you are looking at.

First, she recommends examining the style of cake - rolled or spiral cake. She lists the pros of spiral cakes that I described in my last blog post about ease for the new mom. Increased stability of the rolled diaper cakes is not discussed, but since she doesn't make that variety, she may be unaware of this benefit. This benefit of the spiral cakes, however, may be one of the main reasons they are growing in popularity.

Second, the author recommends checking out the brand of diapers. She recommends diaper cakes made with quality brand name diapers. I have to say, I agree whole-heartedly. When giving a gift, most people wouldn't want to give a store brand pack of diapers so it makes sense to select a diaper cake with brand name diapers. I typically will use Luvs which are very popular, however, since diaper cakes can be customized and personalized, I can and have made cakes with other brands if the expectant mom has chosen or prefers another brand. Typically, I'll check out the registry to see if she has a preference and make the cake with that type, otherwise, I'll use Luvs which is still a quality brand.

The third recommendation is to consider the size of the diaper in the cake. The author prefers size 1 diapers for the cakes and in my experience, this is typically what you find. Size 1 is a great size for most babies and almost all babies will be able to use them. Newborn diapers, like newborn clothes, aren't always needed and may go unused by a new mom if the baby is on the larger side. Larger size diapers are also typically usable, but I will most likely reserve these for gifts given after the baby is born or for sip 'n' see parties. Again, since the cakes can be customized, if the shower or baby welcome party (sip 'n' see) is held for an older baby rather than a newborn, larger diapers are preferred.

Fourth on the list of recommendations is to examine the number of diapers on the cake. This can vary widely from cake to cake and while it should be considered, in my opinion, it should be not be the major deciding factor of the diaper cake. More importantly, the number of diapers compared to the overall cost/value of the diaper cake should be considered. In general, while diapers build the structure of the cake, they may not make up to main cost of the cake. Make sure you know what you are paying for. If one cake has say, 50 diapers on it, but you also get several blankets or baby items, it may be more worth it than a diaper cake at the same price that has more diapers but no additional usable baby items. 20 diapers may equal the cost of a single blanket.

The final recommendation on this site mentioned the use of additional baby items. The author does not use baby items on her cakes and lists the reasoning that the gift giver may not know if the baby items will be used by the mom or if the items are of good quality - they may not get used and therefore become a waste of money. She makes a very good point for purchasers to be aware of. I personally like the value of the additional baby items and if the price is comparable, it is a better value than a cake with just diapers and decorations. Also, since diaper cakes are so customizable, items can be selected directly from the registry so the new mom is sure to get items that she picked out for her new baby. If I have a cake that is not specific to the person, I try to use items that are of good quality and BPA free. To me, it goes back to the diaper brand issue - most gift givers do not want to give store brand or generic gifts.

One recommendation I would add to her list would be to consider the overall value. Some diaper cakes take more time to put together - rolled cakes take much more time and care than spiral cakes. Ribbon, appliques, flowers, cake boards, wrappings, and other decorations can add cost to the cake so be aware that you aren't paying just for the diapers. Brand name, licensed, or hand made baby items incorporated into the cake will also add to the overall cost, so consider the value. If your cake is made up of 50 diapers and a few strips of ribbon, it probably isn't worth $60, but don't think it's reasonable to pay only $10 for it, that may just cover the cost for the diapers themselves and not the decorations, not to mention additional time and care of the person who made it.

Happy hunting! =)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Taking a new design for a spin

In my constant search to improve my products, I've decided to try a new style of diaper cake. The "spiral" cake, often referred to as the "boutique style" diaper cake is quickly becoming the norm for diaper cakes. There are many ways to build them up, but the idea is that the diapers have a spiraled appearance which provides a number of benefits as a baby gift, the most obvious of which is an attractive appearance.

I decided to try my hand at this style cake and see how it worked out. For the most part, I'd consider it a success. Because I was simply trying to see how it would come together, I didn't decorate the cake, I simply assembled and stacked the tiers to get the basic idea. While I was at it, I decided to experiment with my photography to see if I could give a more professional appearance to my pictures.

So, here is a picture of the bare cake. I identified a few pros and cons when comparing this style of cake to the traditional rolled cakes I've made in the past. Obvious benefits of this cake include the overall look. While most the cakes I make are covered with blankets or similar baby items and the tiers aren't seen, this option is the likely choice for cakes that are made without the blankets if the customer chooses. Another wonderful benefit is the time it takes to build the cake. Because the diapers aren't individually rolled, building the layers is a bit less time consuming. The biggest positive difference between this cake and my traditional ones is the ease for the expectant mom. Because the diapers aren't rolled and individually secured, disassembling the cake is much quicker for the recipient. Both styles allow for complete function of all the diapers, so that is one benefit that both cakes have. There are also some negative aspects of this style cake. The overall cake appears smaller than others that I have made with the same number of diapers. This, of course refers mainly to the diameter of the tiers, but that may very well be related to the absence of decorations which slightly widen the cake. Rolled diapers create support for various baby items added to the cake. They can be attached to the tops of the layers or tucked into the diapers with little difficulty. Other baby items, if they are small bottles or similar in structure to the rolled diapers can be traded for diapers on the outside of the layers as well. These decoration choices are not possible with this style cake and other means would need to be employed. Another con I observed was the overall stability of the cake. The individual diapers do not have the firm structure that they possess when they are rolled. The layers are also less dense than when the diapers are rolled. This adds complications when it comes to assembling the tiers in a secure structure, as well as lessening confidence that the tiers can support the added decorations. Another concern is how well the cake will travel with the decreased stability.

While the cons seem a bit daunting, I'm leaning towards switching to building this style of cakes more frequently in the future. The popularity of this style diaper cake seems to be increasing and the overall look is more professional. The stability of the structure seems to be the largest hurdle to overcome, but hopefully in time and with additional practice, I can improve on that. Only time will tell. Please continue to check back for more updates and developments of our products!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Getting smaller

While most people are looking for increased growth, I took a moment to shrink down. Although, in shrinking, I'm growing. What does that mean? I've developed a smaller version of one of my most popular items - the Baby Buggy - and in doing so, I've created an additional option to compliment my other products.

In the early stages, on of my sisters-in-law asked me, "Why would you want to make a smaller one? Isn't the buggy small enough?" The answer? There is a place for it. The standard sized baby buggy is a great alternative if you don't want a gift as large as a diaper cake. Like the diaper cake, it can be used as a centerpiece for tables at showers and welcome baby events, weather you have just a gift table, hors d'oeuvre table, or tables for guests to sit and eat. As demonstrated in the past, the buggy is also the ideal size for a topper on a sheet cake. Of course using the buggy as a modest gift on it's own is always an option as well, because though smaller than a cake, it still provides plenty of baby items for the mom to be.

So, considering the versatility provided by the standard buggy, what uses are there for the Mini Baby Buggy? Plenty! Many of them coincide with the uses of the standard size but add dimension. In decorating for a shower or baby welcoming celebration (also known as a sip 'n' see), using multiple mini buggies around the gathering area(s) will add a little flair (and become useful instead of waste like a lot of decorations). These are especially useful if space is limited and requires smaller decorations. Standard and mini buggies can be made to coordinate or match a theme and be used in various places depending on the space available. For example, a standard buggy placed as centerpieces on tables for eating and mini buggies placed on the end back corners of your food table can make adorable, cohesive, and useful decorations for your event. Mini Baby Buggies can also be used as cake toppers for standard sized cakes (especially 2-tier cakes which have a slightly wider top tier than larger cakes). Two mini buggies can be used together as toppers for a sheet cake which is especially adorable if the mom is expecting twins! Of course, don't feel limited by my suggestions, these mini buggies can be used in any other creative way you choose!

Now that we've discussed their versatility, what goes into a Mini Baby Buggy? Well, like the other diaper gifts I have, the mini buggies start out with hand rolled diapers that form the main structure. With the prototype, I used two wash cloths for the base of the carriage, however, alternately, a burp rag can be used and will likely be used more frequently in this application. Wash cloths are then used for the other buggy components. Finally, the buggy is decorated with ribbon. Additional baby items may be added such as pacifiers or other small baby items, however the selection of these extra decorations is limited due to the size of the buggy.

How does the Mini Baby Buggy compare in size to the standard Baby Buggy? It is smaller, of course, but not too small that it doesn't provide a good variety of baby items for the new mom. As you can see in the picture, it is slightly bigger than half the size of a standard sized buggy.

I haven't worked out all the details of packaging and presentation for these Mini Baby Buggies yet. The standard size is presented in much the same way as the diaper cake. It is placed on a cake board, wrapped in shrink wrap, then tied with decorative ribbon. The presentation for the Mini Baby Buggy may be the same in cases where the buggy will be presented as a stand alone gift, and of course, when used as a cake topper as it will be wrapped on the cake. When used as decorations for a shower or party, the buggy may be wrapped or not depending on the preferences of the person who ordered them.

As you can see, they are still slightly in the development process, however, I feel confident in filling orders at this time. I am excited to add this item to my product line and ready to incorporate it with other gifts I make.