Life is always sweeter with cake. For Hanson native Abby Burke, owner of “Cake Art by Abby,” a thriving business as a cake decorator six months into a pandemic is not the scenario for success she would have imagined.
Guidelines on properly celebrating while still being socially distant has taken some of the pizzazz out of special occasions but Burke — who has a strong social media presence and has begun to raffle off her cakes — has reinserted some of that birthday joy.
She is discovering that families are looking for unique cakes to make their loved ones feel extra special during this unsettled time.
Burke is a 2010 graduate of Whitman Hanson, ironically her maiden name was Mixer, with a passion for confection.
She met and married her husband who is originally from Whitman. They now live in East Bridgewater with their two young children. She is also a financial planning associate. Her strong point is remaining structured and organized as a key to balance in her busy life.
She always had an artistic eye and tried different mediums but realized watching cake decorating videos gave her a strong sense of satisfaction.
After her first attempt at making her daughter a unicorn cake she gave herself a harsh critique.
“I made one…I wasn’t happy with it – it wasn’t that good,” she said. “So I began to make more, finding a flaw in each one and figured out how to perfect it for the next one.”
She began to put in the work as she continues to educating herself. Her cakes are not of a cookie cutter variety.
Nearly all her communication for orders is through social media platforms, direct messenger and her website. During the peak months of COVID lockdown, it provided a solid platform through which her clients could easily continue to reach her. Her clientele normally has a birthday theme, which they communicate to her. She then asks if they are OK with her artistic spin and her magic production begins.
She has heard from clients that they have had virtual birthdays, driveway visits and other creative ways to make memories. As new norms are formed in ways of celebrations she has noticed families want to have a unique cake adding extraordinary cheer.
She is a 2013 graduate from Bentley, which helped her launch her cake design business. Burke also credits her high school days describing herself as a girl who “had her hand in countless activity and was wildly involved” in both public speaking and the business foundation of DECA (formerly known as Distributive Education Clubs of America).
In the start up for her confections she raffled off all of her cakes for free to people within the South Shore. The unique cakes were out there for all to see and taste and she did not waste a sweet drop of the icing.
“I didn’t want to throw it away,” she said.
Burke connected on Facebook with a local family who were down on their luck during COVID.
She was thrilled to be able to donate a cake to them, she said.
Belonging to several ‘mom groups’ with women, who help network and support one another, she always chooses to shop local and small when she can.
Burke says her social media presence and growth has allowed a wider age demographic especially with children’s birthdays. She uses TikTok and Snapchat and her videos have over 300,000 views. Connecting with all ages from the teen bracket through retirement she was hired to make a retirement cake for a knitting group and reconnected with one of her most influential teachers, Lydia Nelson of Whitman Hanson.
One of the most unforgettable cakes she “set up” was during the height of quarantine when her sister Becca Feldmann of Halifax was celebrating her baby’s first birthday. Feldman was caring for her new baby — who at birth had a severe gastrointestinal condition and after so many milestones the first birthday was extra special for their family.
“It was a big deal for me,” said Burke. The next best thing she could do in celebrating her niece’s health and birthday milestone was to construct a cake kit with step by step instructions. Her sister could construct the baby’s first cake with the decorative design Burke created.
Happily her niece is doing well and still remains in strict quarantine. They are looking forward to days ahead when they can spend time celebrating all together.
With a family and running her own business Burke calls time management the key to her growth. She recently launched a six-month, beginner’s subscription goodie box, which arrives every month. It also comes along with an instructional, virtual class with Abby who enjoys teaching others about her craft. There are also frosting recipes with helpful hints.
To view and order cakes and for information on her products visit her website cakeartbyabby.com