My Sister, The Self Taught Cake Artist
Last year, her amazing cake portfolio landed her with an internship with Maggie Austin, a world-class wedding cake artist who has created cakes for Hollywood celebrities like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds and sugar flower vases for The White House. During the internship, she had the honour to help with the making of handmade sugar flower vases that were commissioned by the First Lady of the U.S.A., Michelle Obama for The White House Christmas 2014!
My words would not do justice to how nice her cakes are so I’ll let the photos do the talking. Here are 2 cakes that she made recently:
(I have to let you know that the flowers are handmade using sugar and hence edible!)
The fact that she can make such beautiful cakes is only part of the reason why she inspires me. The main reason why she is so inspirational to me is her relentless dedication and passion for the last 5 years. Yes, 5 years!
Many people commented that she is very talented. No doubt, I’m sure she has some talent in this area. However, I feel that it is her hard work, her devotion to this area and her determination to not give up so easily that made her who she is today.
It all started 5 years ago when she decided to take a gap year because her grades did not get her into the university course she wanted. She could have enter the university by taking another course but she chose not too. It was not an easy decision.
Many of her friends were going into the same university and it is a social stigma in Singapore to not enter university immediately after junior college (equivalent to a sixth form college in the United Kingdom).
Nevertheless, after much consideration, she decided to take a gap year and see how things go. Perhaps apply again in the following year.
That was when she embarked on her journey to become the brilliant cake artist she is today.
During her gap year, she worked in a baking school and helped with baking workshops for kids. It was during this time when she learnt that she is interested in baking.
She began with baking and decorating cookies with leftover dough in the school. As she got more into it, she started to bake at home, trying out different flavours and designs. From cookies, she moved on to cupcakes and simple cakes.
Her teacher? YouTube.
Over the next 3 few years, she entered a private university but never stopped pursing her passion in creating art-like cakes.
She challenged herself to try out different cake designs and practised diligently.
Instead of using pre-made flower decorations, she decided to make them herself and went to learn how to make sugar flowers from YouTube videos. Regardless of how simple they look, making the sugar flowers requires a lot of effort.
From birthday cakes, she gradually ventured into making wedding cakes and dessert tables.
The fact that she has never been out of the tiny island, Singapore, herself because of our conservative parents did not stop her from pursuing her dreams. Armed with her portfolio, she applied for an internship with Maggie Austin in Washington D.C., 9649 miles away from home.
After an Skype interview and some anxious days of waiting, she was informed that her application was successful! Surprisingly and fortunately, our parents agreed to let her go for it, on the condition that her brothers would escort her for a week.
“Randomly looking through my #ilovecreatingsugarflowers hashtag and it dawned upon me that last I used it was 23 weeks ago and how long a way I’ve came in pursuing my interest, it dates back to the 2010s when it all first started.. & every experience just aided me so much in everything, particularly my recent internship.” — Winifred Lua
The White House
These are the 2 sugar flower vases that she was involved in making.
Yes, the flowers are edible!
After the crazy 3 months in the United States, baking and creating almost everyday, she came back ever more determined to bring her passion to a higher level.
Now, in her tiny yet lovely studio, she continues to create out of this world looking cakes and sugar flowers and shares her passion by giving workshops on sugar flower making.
“Walking down memory lane as I arrange and hang these photos on the walls of my studio that I took when I was doing my internship in Washington D.C., it means so much because it was the biggest decision of my life till date that I had to put everything away here at home to travel to a foreign land to pursue my dreams. And at times when i feel dejected about my work, they will serve as constant reminders as long as you don’t give up, people will see it & you will eventually reach your dreams. #eatbakeloveintheUSA” — Winifred Lua
What you see here are all her successful creations. What you don’t see are her countless failed attempts — cakes that were out of shape or tasteless, designs that were not up to her satisfaction, macarons that didn’t rise and so on.
The odds of success to failure attempts were probably 1 is to 5 (or more). It was tough. But for the last 5 years, none of the failures stopped her. None of them made her say, “I give up”.
“I finally understand why we should do things we enjoy, so that we always look forward to the next working day. This is how I feel at work, but nothing comes without hard (HARD) work and perseverance!”— Winifred Lua
And that is why she is such a great inspiration.
Sister, I’m proud of you!