Camille Young is the babe and brains behind Canberra based dessert business company, Pip and Lou. Actually, you may have seen a bunch of her edible art dessert designs floating around Instagram. Described as 'a beautiful mess' her designs are exactly that - a beautiful mess. They're also freakin' delicious.
Today though, we thought we'd chat to her a little more about the background to her work, launching her business and the ups and downs that come with running a (super popular) one man show.
She's a public servant turned self taught cake designer and if you haven't tried one of her treats you need to get to that - stat.
Ps. She's opening her very own dessert store in Canberra sooooon! We're way too excited. Buut let's find out a little more about her below.
Tell us about your career what were you doing prior to launching Pip and Lou?
I officially launched PIP & LOU. in 2014. Prior to that I had worked in a range of positions across the Australian Public Service and in hospitality.
Was cake decorating and making something you had always had a passion for? When did you know it was time to turn your passion into a business?
Not at all, originally I'd had my heart set on art & floristry. I was certain I'd end up with an off the wall florist shop. Cakes were simply something I'd taught myself and that I was good at. I'd bake for family, friends and for fun and with my daughter. It was when I combined cakes, my art and my love of florals that PIP & LOU. was born.
At the time there was nothing at all like my style in Canberra and I saw the gap in the market. At first I wasn't sure if my 'beautiful mess' would be too messy for consumers but after a couple years I upped the anti on social media and the results have really spoken for themselves. Now, the messy floral cake trend has really taken off right across Canberra.
How many people work in your Pip and Lou biz at the moment? Is it only you? How do you manage to do it all?
Currently, I'm a one-man band. I am looking to open the store, PIP & LOU. The Canberra Dessert Studio in 2017 at which time I will expand my team and look to take on admin and kitchen staff together with trainees. But for now it's just little old me pulling and holding it all together.
How long does it take you to make one of your cakes? (Also; how do you not eat all the leftovers! HA.)
It depends on the size and style! I've gotten quite quick actually. I average about 15 cakes per weekend now, and all desserts are baked fresh the day of or day prior to collection. And I'm actually more of a savoury than sweet person to be honest lol. I love creating edible art but I actually don't eat a whole list of it aside from taste testing. I'm a sucker for a good cheese plate!
How do you manage a balanced family and social life on top of running your own business? What do you do to switch off?
I would have to be honest and say that it is anything but balanced! We simply take it one day at a time. My daughter is great, I've been doing this her whole life so she really loves helping. She's a regular at event set ups, she loves a good chat and she's a great dessert box mule ha!! But honestly, we just do our best. Some days I get it so tight and others it's a beautiful mess. To wind down I walk… and shop!
What advice would you give somebody looking to build a career the way you have?
It sounds cliched but authenticity and the integrity of your product is everything. If you’re always drawing your inspiration from somebody else's style or success, you'll find yourself unable to move unless they do. Find something you love and teach other people to love it rather than simply following a trend or adapting your business from someone else's. Consumers need to feel as though they've gotten their money's worth and there really is no better way to ensure that than to offer an authentic product.
So work really really hard to get your name out there, create your own style and own it. Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by other success stories and let the imitations fall to the way side. Game changers don't dwell, they make constant moves. Simple.
Would you consider social media an integral component of Pip and Lou? What's your approach towards it? How do you use it to your advantage?
Social media is integral to any business. It's the way of the world today. It can be deceiving though too. Often people see my instagram or Facebook follow count and say 'oh you took off overnight didn't you?' They don't see the years of work that went into the success prior to the social media success. My approach to social media is to avoid getting into the mass follower hype and concentrate solely on presence. I don't follow any of the rules on retaining followers. I spam my work. Get it out there, make a mark and if you're genuinely good at what you do and your work is your own, I suggest make sure you make it known! Don't worry about who follows or unfollows.
Where do you go for a burst of creativity?
Honestly it just comes to me. Texture is a huge influence as are florals. But I really just go for it, my designs take on a life of their own.
What have been some of your favourite creations to date?
I love the really insane off the wall freestyle designs. When the client gives me full creative control, that's when you really see PIP & LOU. for what it really is. Edible art.
Have you had any cake fails? What do you learn from them?
Yes! Oh my god yes! I've been rear ended on delivery and had the whole thing fall apart. I've stood up a bride after failing to set my diary correctly. I've mixed up the dates of two orders for the same client and had her leave empty handed. Admin quality control is everything. At the moment it's just chaos given I'm doing the work of five people and that means mistakes can and often happen. You really just have to plan and stay right on top of everything.
What's the best business advice you've ever received?
'You're not irreplaceable'. It was honestly one of those perspective moments because it is the truest thing. Somebody always wants your spot, so do the work and do your own thing. True creativity never dies and it relies on no one else’s success to prosper.
Images: @pipandlou; Words: Yadira Galarza Cauchi
Tell us, how much do you love these cake designs!