From the first lick

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Bernadette Crick fell in love with the idea of baking after making a drum-themed cake for her son's 16th birthday. Tayla Wilson reports.

By Tayla Wilson

Bernadette Crick cherishes early childhood memories of her love for drawing and licking the spoon and bowl when her mother baked cakes.

“She used to whip up a cake like it was nothing,” the 47 year-old mother of two and homebody says. “Honestly I didn’t know how much I loved baking, I just used to do it”.

Crick’s 20 year-old daughter Emily says the love of desserts on her mother’s side of the family has always been there. “My dad’s side of the family are very savoury, we have nice big dinners at Christmas whereas my mum’s side is just a quick snag in bread and then they bring out all the desserts,” she laughs.

Crick grew up in country-town Bunyip within a large Catholic family.

“Mum was a home maker; with eight kids there wasn’t much time for anything else. Dad was a truck driver and then a bus driver right up until retirement.

“Both are still alive today at 83 and 85. I’ve lost one brother, but all the rest of us are still around. We’re very much like best friends. I’m pretty lucky,” she says.

Her upbringing within a close-knit family has obviously had an effect on how Crick has raised her own. After taking a few steps into the lively and inclusive home, you immediately feel at ease.

It’s heart-warming to watch the family of four interact with each other. Even during the busyness of everyday life, their love and support for each other manages to shine through.

The suburban residence in Pakenham that Crick and her husband Rod moved into 25 years ago is home to around 40 animals including dogs Tilly and Monte, cats Macey and Prim, some birds, various reptiles and fish. Among the chirps of the pet birds Crick laughs, “you can tell what my second love is,” she says.

After spending “most of the last 20 years raising the kids”, Crick now runs her own business ‘Dettie’s Unique Cake Designs’, making cakes to fit any customer’s personality.

Her own style quite unique, it’s no surprise why Crick finds this career path so satisfying. Although fairly reserved and introverted, she doesn’t care much for what people think of her. From her pixie cut hair dyed brown with blonde tips, to her gothic style boots, Crick’s choices in fashion and hairstyle prove something to be admired. “I guess I act younger than I am,” she says.

Emily describes her as “very caring, generous and loving.

“She’s always been there for me and my brother and dad. She’s just such a great mum. There’s lots of strengths that she doesn’t think she has but she does.

“Being such an introvert sometimes does take its toll a little bit but she always pulls through no matter what,” Emily says.

Former colleague and friend Julie Honey also acknowledges Crick’s lack of self-confidence. “I wish she could see herself through the eyes of her family and friends.

“Bernie is, in all honesty, one of the nicest people I know. She would do anything for anyone, but she needs to learn to put herself first sometimes,” she says.

Crick has suffered from anxiety since she was 16 which she says “turns into depression”.

“I haven’t mastered them, I think that’s something you’ve got to live with and just get through,” she says. “The lack of confidence is probably a big thing for me. I’m proud of who I am though. There’s some pretty horrid people in the world and I’m glad I’m not one of them”.

Crick says she wouldn’t cope without her family. “One really important factor with a business from home is the support of your loved ones, because there’s been a few breakdowns here and there”.

She says she also wouldn’t be at the standard she is at today without the help of Sarah Eduati, former Cake Stop owner in Beaconsfield. “I did my basic classes there and learnt the fundamentals there. And anytime I had a question she was always there. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now without her” she says.

Crick fell in love with the idea of baking after making a drum-themed cake for her now 21-year-old son Daniel for his 16th birthday.

She laughs. “That one (pictured) was a remake. I thought [the original] was so amazing back then,” she says. Daniel says “for a first effort, it was bloody great”.

“When I did Dan’s, I had a friend who thought it was that great that she wanted one for her daughter, so I did a kombi van for her. So it was actually just people I knew saying that they wanted cakes,” Crick says.

“And then one day my niece said she had a friend who was having a party and asked if I could make her a cake. That was my very first customer that I didn’t know. That was in 2014, and that was when I started thinking about becoming a business”.

Since then, Crick has made more than 400 cakes for clients. She says it’s the customers who motivate her to do what she does. “Just the look on their faces when they see them and how rapt they are. Because I honestly haven’t had a customer say that they hated anything. That and pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing something I thought I couldn’t.”

“I just love baking. The freshness, the memories of it and then there’s the artistic aspect. I’ve always been an artist. My husband’s an artist. My daughter’s an artist. So being able to combine the two passions is really awesome,” she says.

Emily has started to assist her mother with her work. “I haven’t learnt to make the cakes yet but I just help her with little things, even if it just means doing the dishes or cleaning the floor,” she laughs. “But I’m starting to make toppers and things like that, more so because I’m an artist and I like to make characters and things like that, so more the modelling side of things,” she says.

Crick is busy preparing for a wedding expo at the Drouin Country Club next weekend, with tiers of cakes spread across the dining table and a list of ingredients and things to do on her whiteboard. “This is their first one. I have a few clients up there, being born up that way”. She gestures to the cakes, “this is what all these are for. There’s a lot of work involved but it can be worthwhile just to get your name out there because some of them don’t even know you’re around until they see you in person,” she says.

As for the future, Crick says she’ll just be continuing with what she’s doing today.

“It’s a funny business, it all relies on customers finding you and I’m not great with marketing and stuff like that but I’ve got Em who’s quite savvy with the computer. She’s going to start helping me with knowing when to post and on what pages and all that sort of thing so that’s probably the next thing for the business, the media side of it,” she says.