When I started cake decorating, a little over three years ago, I relied heavily on online articles and tutorials to develop my craft. They are honestly a godsend to the new and uninitiated and I remain eternally thankful to all those individuals who give up their time and energies to share their knowledge and skills with the rest of us. One name that used to appear pretty religiously in all my search results was a certain McGreevy Cakes and a quick click over to Facebook revealed that McGreevy Cakes had about a MILLION page likes, so they clearly knew what they were talking about.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Shawna McGreevy, the talent behind McGreevy Cakes is pretty much considered cake royalty the world over and after falling very much in love with the fun and playful style of her work, I became a fan. Her jaunty tutorials on YouTube were fun and easy to follow and honestly, I just used to watch them for the sheer enjoyment factor – whether I planned to emulate the cake or not! She has since launched her own online cake school, Cakeheads.com, which has just celebrated its first birthday!
I was actually lucky enough to meet the legend herself a couple of years ago (although rather embarrassingly had spent most of the evening with her entirely unaware of who she actually was) and so began a much-valued transatlantic friendship. And because everyone needs a little sunshine in their lives, I thought it was high time I shared the gift of The McGreevy with the rest of you…
Mrs M! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Of course, Rob! I’m not gonna lie, you’ve held a special place in my heart since that night we met long ago when you asked Avalon, who was standing next to me, “Is that Shawna McGreevy?” while pointing to very tall, gorgeous blonde who was definitely not me. 😉 Tee hee!
Oh, the shame! In fairness to me though, I was a complete cake noob at the time. Now, in a rapid change of subject, how the devil are you?
I’m doing great! I guess “well” is the more appropriate response, but my brain seems to always prefer the improper route. I’m having a blast running Cakeheads.com and starting some new endeavours with my family, too.
First, let me wish you many happy returns on the first anniversary of Cakeheads.com. Tell me, when did you originally devise the idea for Cakeheads and what was the journey like, bringing it to life?
Thanks Rob! Well, my husband, Thomas and I actually had the idea of starting something similar to Cakeheads about four years ago and even met with some web developers at the time to get some insight into how to go about setting it up… but it turned out that it just wasn’t the right time for us, so we had to put the idea on hold until we were ready.
It’s been a CRAZY journey, building, launching and running Cakeheads! Lots of ups, some definite road blocks and struggles we’ve had to work through on the website end of things and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times, too.
It’s not easy putting yourself out there and devoting massive amounts of time and energy to an idea that you hope will turn out to be all you dreamed it would. It’s risky, emotionally, at the very least. But as one of my favourite business bloggers, Seth Godin, often says (and this is a generalisation), “If there isn’t some element of ‘this may not actually work’ to what you’re doing, you’re probably not doing it right.
Every day, Thomas and I wake up thankful that we went for it. And we truly have a serious soft spot for our members. They’re pretty stinking fantastic.
You have managed to assemble an amazing array of guest tutors, from all over the world. How do you go about reaching out to them all?
Over the past seven years I’ve been blessed to be able to meet and form connections with some pretty amazing artists. Because I already have a relationship with them, it makes it a bit easier… and even people I haven’t previously connected with have been wonderfully generous with their time and knowledge, as well. It’s been great fun chatting with them and getting to watch so many talented people create their work live, online!
Now, I want to know more about the Cake Cruises. They honestly look absolutely amazing and I am distraught that I have never made it to one (although I do get dreadfully seasick!). For my readers who might not know much about them, what were the Cake Cruises all about and what was it like to attend one?
The Cake & Cookie Cruises were… crazy! Lol, in the best way ever.
We had a TON of fun with everyone who joined us on board. My team of instructors and I gave demonstrations and held some classes on the ship and spent the rest of the time having a ball with the cruisers: sight-seeing while we docked, enjoying the shows on board, singing and dancing together even and, of course, eating all of the amazing food… way too often.
The logistics of running classes and demonstrations on the ship are a bit difficult, and for that reason we’re taking a break from cruises at the moment, but we’ve got some other fun things going on in the mean time!
Ah yes, I’ve been hearing whispers of something rather fabulous happening later this year. What can you tell us about it?
Yes, The Sweet Weekend & Masquerade Ball!
We’ve loved the idea of hosting a seriously fun, fancy party for cake and cookie enthusiasts for a while now and decided this was the year to turn the idea into reality! We’re hosting an entire weekend event, at a swanky spot right in our own neighbourhood of Buffalo, New York, which will involve cake and cookie demonstrations by the amazingly talented team of artists we’ve gathered together during the day and then we’ll end the weekend with a swanky and fun masquerade ball on the Sunday night! Ball gowns, tuxes or suits, masks… the real deal! We’re seeeeeriously excited about this weekend!
Can you let us in on any secrets?
Nope. I’m a GREAT secret keeper. 😉
Ahhh… come on!
Just know that we’re very into the details and have some fun things planned for the weekend to make it special.
What can attendees expect from the weekend?
Fun. Relaxation. And more fun. 😉
Who would it suit?
Everyone! It’s for anyone who enjoys the art of cake and cookie decoration… whether that be practising artists or just those who appreciate the art. We’re not focussing on skill sets this weekend… just fun for all!
How can I find out more?
We’ve got a webpage setup that has all of the info you’ll need about the weekend, right here.
So, tell us a bit more about you. Who is the person behind the public face?
I’ve got four fabulous kids and a smokin’ hot husband who treats me like a queen… even when I’m a hot mess.
No pets… yet. (And don’t you dare tell my kids that I added that last word in there). I’m a huge volleyball fan, I love home decor and I’m an ice-chewing addict (don’t judge).
Are there any giant skeletons in your closet that you’ve never revealed to anyone until now…?
I don’t really have any skeletons. I work better when all my cards are on the table. (And I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)
Like me, you used to be a teacher. What made you give it all up for cake?
Well, I actually didn’t give it all up for cake. I gave it all up for babies. I knew, when we decided to start having children, that I wanted to stay home with them, so I did. Then, when my fourth was about 6 months old, this whole cake thing sort of came upon me.
Who or what inspires you now?
Artists of every genre inspire me. You know how it is… everything I see and love can somehow be turned into cake.
So, what has been the most challenging project you have taken on, so far?
Hmm… I made a three-foot robot cake for my nephew, a few years back. It was my first structured cake and it took me forever and ever and everrrr.
It nearly broke me. I still have nightmares. So does my husband. 🙂
You always seem so happy and light, it’s hard to EVER imagine you otherwise! So, spill: what never fails to get McGreevy’s goat?
I cannot HANDLE long toenails – or feet in general, actually.
I’m not a fan of self-promotion. I feel like we should let others do that for us, if they see fit.
I get angry at loved ones if they choke on food – after they’re done choking and I know they’re ok, of course. The anger comes from the fact that they’ve scared me to death. Irrational I know, but ‘tis the truth.
And don’t get me STARTED on everything being out of its place in my house. Putting the pillows back on the couch and closing the cupboard doors is NOT difficult. I swear it.
I’m starting to feel like I might have opened Pandora’s box here… Change of subject time? 😉 What are your goals for 2018? What would you like to achieve in the next year?
To bring a little bit of sunshine to everyone I encounter, every day. A lofty goal, I know, but important. I’d also love for one of our vehicles to NOT be a minivan this year. Again, lofty.
What would you say to anyone considering getting into cake artistry?
Do it ‘cause you love it. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. And don’t put pressure on yourself to make a significant amount of money right away. That takes time and patience – and drive. Lots and lots of drive.
Finally, what would be your top cake decorating tip for my readers?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s a learning process with every cake. Most things worth doing are difficult. If it wasn’t difficult, everyone would do it. And if you’re not having fun, stop doing it. Life’s too short. Which I pretty much already said in response to the last question… but I think it’s worth driving home.
The Sweet Weekend & Masquerade Ball takes place from Saturday 6th – Sunday 7th October 2018 at the Hotel Henry, in Buffalo, New York and tickets cost from $400.
To find out more, visit https://cakeheads.com/the-sweet-weekend/