What started with a “Little Einsteins” spaceship cake for Dee Ragsdale’s daughter’s first birthday has turned into a full-time cake business. Ragsdale, a Clearwood resident, owns Whimsy Cakes By Dee and bakes cakes for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, parties, charity events and more.
Her cakes aren’t the typical ones found in grocery stores, and she is not the typical baker. Her background is on the artistic side. Ragsdale studied illustration arts in college, worked as a tattoo artist for several years, and dabbled in painting, drawing and sculpting. She baked cakes for her family, beginning with the spaceship cake. She said she didn’t initially plan to make a career out of it until her friends and family took notice of her detailed, carefully-crafted cakes.
“Friends would come over and they’d see my kids’ cakes, and they’d be like, ‘Hey, would you make a cake for my kiddo?’ ” she said. “In the beginning, it was just for friends or family, and then it got kind of crazy because those friends of friends of friends started hitting me up for cakes.”
One of her friends posted about a cake that Ragsdale made for her on social media, and within hours she had hundreds of messages asking her about her cakes.
“I started sweating profusely. I got so scared because I didn’t know what to do about it. I was so overwhelmed,” said Ragsdale, who opened her business in 2016. “But I’m very thankful for her because she kind of gave me that little kick in my butt.”
Ragsdale takes an artistic approach to every cake that she makes for customers. She will often receive details on what kind of cake the customer would like, but her favorites are the ones who give her creative freedom to design it as she pleases. She begins with a sketched concept, drawing the layout and preparing color schemes. She crafts and sculpts her cakes by hand, and she works with both fondant and buttercream.
She books requests for months in advance, and once she starts on an order, she aims to complete it within two to three days, often working 24 hours straight.
“My main thing is making sure that the cakes taste fresh and they taste as good as they look. Cakes can partially dry out if you’re not careful,” Ragsdale said. “Flavor and taste is important for customers, of course, but, for me, the most important part is the sculpting. I’m an artist. I went to school not to be a cake designer. I went to school to be a graphic designer. I’m not a true baker. I slide more toward the designer part. My heart palpitates more when someone gives me a really cool design concept and they’re like, ‘Run with it.’”
The cake background isn’t completely foreign for Ragsdale. Her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother all made cakes for social gatherings, their church and their children. She remembers coming home from school or other functions to sweet aromas from the kitchen, something she tries to replicate for her two children. Ragsdale has even taught her 19-year-old daughter the basics of making cakes.
“I got my love of cooking and baking goodies from my grandmother and my mom,” she said. “I actually use their old cooking utensils for my customers now, which I think is cool because I’m giving them a little bit of history from their supplies to my customers.”
Some of her favorite cakes that she has made include ones depicting the “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” unicorns and anything involving scary movies or fantasy. While the heavy workloads can burn her out, Ragsdale said she works well under stress and looks forward to seeing customers’ reactions to her cakes.
“It’s so nice that everyone always has such wonderful comments and compliments. It’s humbling,” she said. “When they have expectations of me, I gotta pull through. My internal goal when I’m doing a customer’s order is it has to be as good as what they’ve given me as a reference or better. I always try to add a little extra touch of magic to it. I’m so honored to be a part of these celebrations.”
To learn more about Whimsy Cakes By Dee, visit https://www.whimsycakesbydee.com//.