When Tricia Allen, owner of PhotoFrost, bought a small cake making and craft supply shop in 1995, she had no idea how to decorate cakes. Now she has been awarded one U.S. patent related to cake decoration and has secured another provisional patent after innovating edible fabric cake decorations. "I eventually took a cake decorating class and before I even completed the class, I had orders for wedding cakes. Customers kept asking for more complex decorations until one lady gave me a picture out of a magazine and asked me to draw that on the cake which I thought would be too difficult."
That is when Allen had her light-bulb moment that led to her successful patent. "We started tearing apart printers to figure out a way to put in edible ink," she said. "I eventually got the standard printers to work with edible ink and started printing designs on rice paper." Ever the innovator, Allen was not content with the way the rice paper tasted so she developed her own printing substance she calls icing sheets.
"My edible sheets tasted good, were flexible, durable and we could print photo quality designs on them," said Allen. "Up until 2013, I was one of only three companies worldwide doing it on this high quality corn starch sugar paper." Now Allen has turned her innovator's mind to 3-dimensional printing, or what she calls edible fabric, an innovation in which she already has a provisional patent. "The icing sheets can bend but you can't fold them to make shapes," she said. "Our edible fabric sheets are flexible and durable. You can print, drape, pleat and make 3-D shapes like purses with which to decorate your cake. You can also dip in water to make cake lace."
Allen's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to always be consistent. "Consistency is the biggest key," she said. "No matter what you're doing, you have to show up everyday be there for clients whether they come right away or not. I've seen small biz fail because of lack of consistency in what you offer and the time you offer it.