Katherine Sabbath on being a dessert queen in the digital age
Sydney-based foodie Katherine Sabbath's meteoric rise to cake queen status is the stuff of Instagram legend. With 382k followers and counting, it's hard to believe she only joined the social media platform in 2013. Originally intended to be a side hobby on top of her high school teacher day job, Kat's passion and talent for jaw-dropping cake design won out and the self-taught 'home baker' is now immersed in cake creation full-time. Since leaving her teaching job in 2015, she's gone on to host demonstrations and workshops, enjoy creative partnerships with major brands and is set to launch a crowd-funded pop-up cookbook later this year.
As one of the speakers for Vivid Ideas' Evolving a Tasty Niche - The Love and Struggle in Creative Food Careers, Kat caught up with Buro 24/7's Yeong Sassall to chat about her rollercoaster ride to Insta-stardom.
Your backstory is so interesting - can you tell us how you turned cake art into a career?
I spent A LOT of time practicing my baking and cake decorating during any spare moment (as it was and still is my passion), and thanks to being able to share my work on Instagram with other like-minded people and saying YES to exciting opportunities (whilst learning the good and the bad along the way), the rest is history. I'll fill you in on "the rest" at the Vivid event!
What's been the most interesting part of your journey from teacher to food creative?
My biggest and most interesting career highlight so far is successfully funding my debut cookbook through crowdfunding (Kickstarter) at the end of 2016. It's a pop-up cookbook containing all of my greatest cakes and will be ready for release in September 2017. It's been a mammoth learning curve and so far removed from what I used to do in my day-to-day life as a high school teacher, but it's my proudest project to date!
How has technology and social media played a part in your success?
I've been seriously gob-smacked by the amount of support I've received through social media as well as all of the wonderful people I've been fortunate enough to connect with over the last three years. Most of the incredible opportunities I've been able to partake in have been because someone, somewhere has seen my work on Instagram or online. It's something I would have never imagined and I thank my lucky stars every day. Most of the cakes or treats I post on Insta are bespoke gifts for friends, family or other special people in my life, and I hope it's this simple gesture of sharing with others in a creative and thoughtful way, that the people who 'follow' me, enjoy!
What are some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome as a creative in the food industry?
Refraining from eating too much cake and sugar, haha. That part is definitely a hazard of the job as I'm always taste-testing my recipes. One of the downsides with being self-employed is that I don't have benefits such as sick leave or paid holidays, so I have to be diligent with saving money in case of emergencies and staying on top of securing new work opportunities. Other than that, I'm extremely happy with my career so far in the creative food industry!
The food industry is absolutely booming - why do you think this is so?
Personally, I've noticed my friends and I are a lot more conscious about where our food is coming from, its environmental impacts, and it's emotional value. I think more people are more educated about food in general, and in our fast-paced lifestyles, celebrating homemade or 'real' food is a good way to maintain a balanced life. There's a lot of pride in being able to cook for oneself or provide for others, so being interested in food is essentially a life skill.
What are some of the talking points behind your Vivid Ideas event?
Some of the topics my awesome fellow panelists and I will be addressing include:
- Taking food business to a new level with creativity
- Understanding and leveraging Sydney's creative food trends
- Innovation and social media growth strategy
- Food for social good: climate change and human rights
- Getting your business on the radar of the top publishers and influencers
- Converting your niche to economy
- Successful crowdfunding and grant funding tips
- Survival strategy in the highly competitive industry
Lastly, what's your tip for taking a great food Instagram?
Hone your food and photography skills through lots of practice and never stop wanting to learn new things. Along the journey, make sure you enjoy everything that you do, stay humble and be genuine to yourself and others. Positivity and honesty, I believe, are integral to building any successful friendship, online community of followers (if we're talking about blogs and Instagram etc) and eventually can lead to a successful business whereby customers would be proud to associate themselves with you and your brand.
Evolving a Tasty Niche - The Love and Struggle in Creative Food Careers is on June 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. For tickets, head to vividsydney.com
Buro 24/7 Selection
Buro 24/7 Selection