Zoe Hopkinson

Hi, I’m Zoe, check out my work at @zoesfancycakes

What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Porridge, and apple and a boiled egg. I’ve been put on a healthier diet because of all the chocolate and baking I’ve been eating during lockdown!

How long have you been Cake Decorating for?
I think just over 6 years now, although it doesn’t feel like that long ago, it only feels like it was last year that I left my job to work doing something I love, time has flown by so fast. When I started I didn’t expect to be doing it this long, I thought I’d probably do it for 6 months and find I couldn’t make a living from it and have to go back to my job, and I’m so pleased that I was wrong.

Why did you choose Cake Decorating?
I didn’t ever know that I wanted to do cake decorating. I actually wanted to be a wedding dress designer, until I realised I hated sewing. It was only because some asked if I could try make a figure for the top of a cake that they had baked, that  I found I really enjoyed creating things with icing and so it became my hobby. The more I made as a hobby, the more it made me realise I didn’t enjoy my job and that I wanted to work doing something I enjoyed. So after 6 months of doing it for a hobby I made it my full time job.

In times of doubt, what do you do to get back into your creative zone?
Watching Disney and Pixar movies always makes me want to create, I’m so inspired by all the art work in them and the cartoon style characters always make me feel happy. I also have a lot of art books at home of work of artists I follow online and I like to look through those to put me back in my creative zone.

Where did you learn your Cake Decorating skills?
I had always classed myself as self taught, as a lot of my style and work just developed from trial and error with things, but I have still been lucky enough to have attended classes with some incredible cake artists over the last few years and if there’s things I’m unsure of I always pop to youtube and see if anyones made tutorials on what I’m looking to do. I’ve even picked up many hints and tips from my own students as they all like to share their knowledge with each other  in my classes.

What is your typical day like, what does it entail?
Each day is different for me now that I don’t make cakes to order any more.
The day used to begin with baking, but now that I mainly teach I don’t often bake (also my partner Richard does most of my baking when I need a cake).
Now the day usually starts and ends with admin (the boring stuff)
Teaching days when lock down isn’t on, I’d be teaching all day either in my shop in Leeds, or as a guest teaching at different venues around the world.
An average day for me during corona virus though is;
I start the morning at 7am with a quick check across social media for anything that may need an urgent response. Then I take the dog for a quick walk and then get back to social media work.
I usually have a look at what creations I want to post pics/videos of online.
If its a Tuesday or Thursday at 9am I then start deciding what I’m going to make for that days facebook live video. I’ll search the internet for inspiration, e.g photos of animals and use them to create a quick mock up for a cake topper. 10.30am I would then repeat what I’ve just made in a facebook live.
Now the rest of the day would be ideally be continuing to create more things for classes, but currently I would spend the rest of the afternoon packing and posting peoples orders from our online shop.
Then a bit more admin.
Evenings is when I often get chance to play with creating new characters, or just sit watching online tutorials (often of people drawing as it inspires me).
Then just before I go to bed its a bit more admin.
Today however I’m having the day off admin to try create a new online class 🙂

We know Edible Art Paint is a medium you use, what do you love about it?
I love that its just like paint! That sounds daft, but not all food colours are like paint, and they are really great for when I’m doing small details on my cakes and figures. I also love that I can paint on chocolate with them. Also the colours, such a gorgeous range of colours. My favourites are the metallic palettes that are water activated, much less messy than me using a powder with clear alcohol and they don’t smear at all once dry, which is great for me as I have a habit of smudging things.

What is your #1 piece of advice for the newbies in Cake Decorating?
You will have heard this many times before…..
Practice, practice and practice! Its not often that things are perfect the first time you make something, so don’t give up if its not exactly as you pictured the cake. Its not often things I make look like I had planned, but don’t be hard on your self, because others will love it even if you don’t. You see the flaws in your work that others don’t. You build your confidence the more you practice 🙂

Who is your inspiration in the Cake Decorating world?
There are so many incredible cake artists that its so difficult to pick, but I’m going to mention the 3 who not only inspire me  but that I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from, and all of them are incredibly lovely people; Carlos Lischetti, Carla Puig, Silvia Mancini and I know this makes it more than 3 but I have to also mention the amazing  Emma Jayne too.

Who is your inspiration out of the Cake Decorating world?
I get so much inspiration from artists and I love to follow these on instagram;

Whitney Pollett
Chris Ryniak
Jeff Granito designs