Tina Zettel - How a Cake Designer Followed Her Aha Moment

My Big Story

Tina Zettel, owner of Willow Tree Bakery loves creating delicious event cakes for brides and party goers in the heart of the California wine country, Sonoma County, CA. Tina shares her story of starting and working in the cake industry, why she loves it, the power of believing in yourself, and how she continues to stay creative.




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Listen to a bonus story about two cake wreck, showing us that even successful people fail.










Tina Zettel, an independent event cake designer and owner of Willow Tree Bakery, shares how she started and grew her business, how believing in herself was the key to success, what things helped her stay creative and inspired, and offers advice for others. She also delves into real talk about a rough patch when she had to stop her business, and what she did afterwards to get it back.


“You gotta love what you do and you have to keep on going forward.”


Key Takeaways

[1:22] Thirty hours in two days…gotta love cakes!
[3:00] What kind of business does Willow Tree bakery run? What does an independent cake artist do?
[4:22] Tina talks about some of her crazy, wacky, and big cake designs such as a drunken Barbie cake, a 3D dove cake, and an elegant Star Wars wedding cake.
[7:10] What is it like to be in the wedding business in Napa, Sonoma? Tina has only had 5 bridezillas in 20 years!
[9:35] Why did Tina decide to get into the cake business?
[11:33] Tina shares her journey on taking a class in cake decorating and how within 3 months she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
[14:36] Why does Tina have a strong love for the art of cake making?
[16:13] Tina has discovered 5 new techniques over the last month. How does she find out about these new techniques?
[18:45] What is the first book Tina read that inspired her? How did this lead to her aha moment?
[23:08] How did Tina go from having her aha moment to starting her business?
[25:20] What are some of the challenges of having an established business? How does Tina overcome these challenges?
[30:05] Being an independent cake artist offers high flexibility, allowing you to push boundaries and accept new challenges.
[31:56] How did Tina grow her business?
[33:43] What was it like to re-start her business following a divorce? What made it more challenging as well as a success?
[40:09] What does Tina wish she knew then that she knows now?
[42:59] Tina’s one solid piece of advice for anybody starting their own business.
[45:54] Willow Tree Bakery is exploring new challenges and cookies may be in their near future.


Mentioned in This Episode



“Thirty hours in two days…gotta love cakes!”
“There’s never an end game with designing of cakes. There’s always more…There’s always a new technique.”
“Cooking is an art and baking is a science.”
“You gotta love what you do and you have to keep on going forward.”