Bling is in! Interview with Lisa Mansour of NY Cake and Baking
Interview with Lisa Mansour
Co-Owner NY Cake & Baking
Interview by Kathryn Gordon
and Jessie Riley
Kathryn: Hi Lisa! We’ve spoken before about your grandmother
who was a chocolatier in Salt Lake City, and your mother who was a pioneer in
NYC cake decorating. Your parents use to
run the business. Now it’s more being
run by you and your siblings, right? How
did that all evolve?
Lisa: I grew up learning about cake from my
mother. In fact, I started this location
(on West 22nd Street, NYC) with my mother in 1989. At that point there was no store of its kind
at all and most people didn’t know what “cake decorating” was at that
point. In fact, originally we were
further down the street and the landlord said: "You won’t even last a year!" We
have the same landlord in this larger location almost 25 years later and now he
understands more about cake!
Kathryn: So do people watching TV! I imagine the cake craze has helped your
Lisa: I came back to work in
the business full time in the past 3-4 years.
Before then it was run mostly by my mom, dad and brother. Fundamentally,
this is a cookie cutter and sprinkle business.
And it’s very seasonal.
Now my sister and her husband also work in the
business. My sister Jenny primarily
works up in our warehouse in Westchester and is responsible for the website and
all internet orders. I am now in charge
of the NYC store from A-Z. My mom is in
charge of the books. My dad, well, he bosses
Kathryn: Things have “shifted” here since I first visited you 2 years ago. And I don’t just
mean where items are located in the store…
Lisa: Our emphasis is on introducing new cake
ideas to refresh the company and to provide better customer service. You can say that the “girls in the family”
definitely have personality! I’m really
excited to get in there as an adviser to people, to help them make whatever
cake they want to make.
Jessie: You’re launching a new line of tools this
month under your own line?
Lisa: Yes! I
decided to design tools to make it easier for people to make the cake they want
to make. These days, everyone is short
on time and they have to juggle so many things in their lives. Whether they make a cake for their family, or
to sell – tools help them execute it the most efficiently. We had the resources to help pull
together a line of tools.
My brother-in-law is responsible for manufacturing most of our tools. Because of this, I am able to introduce a line of “Couture
Molds” in silicon that will work with a variety of cake decorating
materials: modeling chocolate, gum
paste, fondant, pulled sugar and tempered chocolate.Basically, whatever the cake
decorator wants to do!
Jessie: What else is in the works for your line, Lisa?
In January, I expect to introduce a gluten-free cake mix with natural
flavorings. There is such demand now for great tasting, gluten free
products. I hear it all day in the store as customers
come in looking for product. I am right
in the middle of the store so I get to hear all day what my customers
I would also like to have a school. I love teaching now through our NY Cake
Academy and I have lots of ideas. I am
teaching a class at ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) in 2 weeks, and next
year will teach a class at ICE in 2013 under the CAPS program.
Kathryn: Can you run a school here, in the store? I remember taking my first Wilton cake
decorating piping series with your mother years ago, in a location down the
Lisa: Rents in Manhattan are so high but we’re
looking into our options. We will be
starting to do free in-store cake demonstrations after the holidays. I want to bring in guest chefs, and foster a
sense of community in the store like we used to have when the cake business was
in its infancy.
Kathryn: What’s the best thing about the NY store?
Lisa: Employee loyalty. We all work 6 days a week, including me. I’m lucky that most of our employees have
been with us a long time.
Jessie: What’s the most current cake trend you’re
Lisa: The demand is still for bling! More and more bling, in fact.
Jessie: What doesn’t “move anymore” in the world of
Lisa: Cake separators and columns. Right now you
can’t give them away.
Jessie: Before we finish up, what drives you, Lisa?
I want to be a trend setter, and never a
“copier”. I don’t even look at what
other people are doing with their cakes or cake classes. I focus on
myself, not other decorators. Some people consider me a threat – which
think is sad. I need to do my own thing,
and I have my hands full with my own projects.
Jessie: Thanks Lisa!
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