Samantha Cade opens the door to her West Campus apartment with a warm, welcoming smile, both of her palms dyed bright red from kneading fondant for one of the week’s 14 cake orders. Her olive eyes are tired, yet eager. As a McComb’s business management student and the force behind Cade’s Cakes, sleep comes last on her list of priorities.
Story by Ashley Lopez
Photos by Dahlia Dandashi
Cade is the baking super-girl behind the @samcade Instagram account and small business known as Cade’s Cakes. A UT sophomore from Dallas, Cade has made her mark in Austin with her ability to single-handedly create one-of-a-kind cakes from scratch out of her West Campus apartment. Originally just a cake baker by hobby, the high demand for her creations put Cade on a fast track toward creating her own small business. “It just kind of crazily took off by word of mouth. Last January I had around 400 followers on Instagram and didn’t really do cakes, and now I have close to 3,000 followers, and all of my pictures are of cakes,” Cade says.
Cade’s love for baking cakes all started with her large sweet tooth, she says. From doughnuts to pancakes, her palette has always consisted of pastry foods. Soon, she was baking all sorts of cakes for friend’s birthdays and other special occasions. “It’s a pretty expensive hobby and I bake whether or not I have orders, so I guess if I wasn’t selling my cakes I would be just wasting time baking anyway. I figured I might as well make a profit,” Cade says. Cade launched her small business in January 2013, and it has only grown since then. Her social media influence has been a catalyst for her entrepreneurial endeavors, creating a follower audience that has turned into customers. In December, Cade launched her official website which she says made Cade’s Cakes “explode.” People who may not have known her personally and felt awkward contacting her now have the ability to order via the website, and the orders do not stop, she says. With about a dozen orders a week, Cade spends most of her time in the kitchen. As she generously ices and sprinkles a layer of Funfetti cake, Cade explains that she has become used to working out of such a small space. “I probably use my kitchen more than anyone else in the building,” Cade says.
And she’s probably right. Above the sink hang two sorority paddles, each decorated with the names of her two roommates, and a wooden spoon with “Sam” etched in red. Luckily for Cade, her roommates support her hobby and are not fazed by the chaos that has become of their kitchen. One of Cade’s roommates and main confidants, Emily Puig, says she tends to stress the business side of Cade’s Cakes when Cade is too caught up in baking. From making sure the cakes are adequately priced to critiquing them as they are assembled, Puig helps Cade maximize her talent. As she arrives home from work, Puig hops onto a barstool and begins to chat with Cade about the confection she’s currently assembling — a Mrs. Harry Styles themed birthday cake. It is obvious Cade values Puig’s input: She asks about which colors would work best, the placement of decorations and other cake details. “I’m an advertising major, so for a while it really bothered me that Sam wasn’t using social media to the fullest extent,” Puig says. “She would be hesitant to Instagram too often for fear she’d lose followers, or she wouldn’t Instagram a certain cake because she’s too hard on herself and didn’t think it was cool enough.”
Between managing her own baking business and keeping up with school, all-nighters are a frequent routine for Cade. “I can stay up all night and do cakes easily because I enjoy it,” Cade says. “I’ll do school work until 3 a.m. and then do cakes into the morning,” she adds. Cade also admits she probably does not spend as much time on school as she should, but she still manages to keep it all together. Puig says another fallback on Cade’s part is her failure to recognize the worth of her talent. “She used to really undercharge people for their cakes, so one day I made an Excel spreadsheet of how much each cake should cost based on how many people it should feed, if she would use fondant, if the cake was 3D and so on,” Puig said. “We have a running joke that I’m her manager.” Cade confesses she thinks people trust in her abilities more than she does. Despite having worked in a bakery during high school, she was never mentored on cake baking. “I’ve never taken a class or anything. I think people are a little too confident in me, and a lot of times I just have to figure it out,” she admits. This summer, Cade hopes to broaden her knowledge of baking in New York City. She is moving to the concrete jungle during the summer break with one of her closest friends and has applied to work at several bakeries. Her enthusiasm for learning more about her craft is evident when discusses her plans for the future. “After college I want to go to the International Culinary Institute in New York. It’s a 10-month-long program, and then I just want to open up my own bakery in Dallas,” Cade says. And to top off the coolness that is Samantha Cade, she has a tattoo of a whisk on her left wrist.