Boss of Cakes

thumbnail_Goodnight wedding.jpg

With a resume consisting of former careers as a police officer, bodyguard, counter terrorism agent and bus driver, just to name a few, no one would have expected the current head manager at Seattle Pacific University Mailing Services to have anything left to add to his long list of various jobs and lifetime achievements. However, it is no surprise that people often have a knack for giving others the unexpected, and Frank Kinard is no exception to this. Wanting to take up a new skillset, he began a side business as a cake decorator seven years ago, when he realized that one night every week while his wife was busy at bible study, he had time to do whatever he wanted and decided to take a cake decorating course through the local Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store. Frank discovered that while taking the course, he was constantly ahead of the instructor and found that he really had a knack for detail, a skill that is essential to have when it comes to cake decorating. At the end of the course, the instructor gave the students the option of each creating and decorating a cake of one’s choice, and Frank chose a wedding cake. He was surprised even by his own newfound ability to create such intricate designs and had always been envious of people who could do that.

Frank’s belief is that you taste with your eyes first, which elevates the experience of whatever it is that you’re eating. When a cake has curb appeal, it is much more pleasing to the eye and is therefore more fun to eat. Although specializing in wedding cakes, he has also dabbled with various birthday cakes such as children’s character cakes, like Thomas the Train, Spiderman, and Elmo, and has also played around with pies, using the crust scraps to create detailed shapes for the top of the pie. On average, a wedding cake, from start to finish, can take anywhere from 40 to 60 hours to create, but Frank separates the elements and works on them one at a time, usually starting a couple of weeks beforehand. Making the actual cake comes last, usually the day before it is due, so that it stays very fresh and from there, he will begin decorating the cake.

Mostly baking out of his own home, Frank also works occasionally at the Camp Casey conference center on Whidbey Island. Since the center hosts many events throughout the year, it has gradually become a reliable source as a venue for weddings and to Frank’s benefit, wedding cakes as well. He has only done one wedding cake (for 350 people!) at Camp Casey so far, but by hopefully expanding his side business as a respectable cake decorator, it’s just a matter of meeting with the chamber of commerce on Whidbey Island (where he also resides) and seeing what is needed as far as businesses go, so that he can adjust his business plan in the area and see what the graphics and dynamics look like there. His ideal dream would be to one day have his own local bakery, possibly even one that is connected to his home that he can work out of. When asked why he does it, Frank said that he considers it to be a passion of his but also a means of escape, in which he can relax and use it to relieve stress. He makes it a goal to always push himself and learn a new skill set – not only to keep the mind active but also to stay young! Hearing of Frank’s hidden talent as a cake decorator has been a reminder in my own life that you never truly know a person until you talk to them and really listen to what they have to say. People can surprise you and there is nothing to be regretted from learning something new each day.

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“You’ve Got Mail!”

There is a certain fascination to be held when it comes to receiving mail; I’m not talking about the kind of mail received on electronic devices that usually just ends up in the “junk” category of one’s inbox. No, I’m talking about traditional letter mail, “snail mail” as some might call it. Maybe it’s just psychological as to why people tend to enjoy getting letter mail, but studies show that physical mail is much less likely to be overlooked by those who receive it than mail sent directly to one’s inbox. Technology has become so commonplace in society today that we just expect it to be there all the time; mail can be continuously accessed at the simple touch of a button or a swipe or two on a touch screen. As a result, old-fashioned letter mail suddenly becomes a luxury again.

Mail is delivered twice daily by Seattle Pacific University’s Mailing Services to every department on and off campus that is owned by the university. The student employees can sometimes be seen strolling around campus with brightly colored messenger bags and packages sitting atop long gray carts. A campus-owned mail van is also used for delivering the packages and mail belonging to the university’s departments that lie farther away from the general campus. In regards to Mailing Services, going on a “route”, (aka delivering mail out of the office to these departments), is often said by the students who work there to be one of the most rewarding parts to the job, the reason being that the students are given the opportunity to be able to connect with faculty and staff members on a daily basis. Whether it’s handing a package or letter to someone and asking for their signature or even talking to them about their day, there is something very personal about that. People’s eyes light up in wonder and excitement when they are told they have a delivery, and the student employees delivering the mail feel good knowing that they have just put a smile on someone’s face.

thumbnail_Photo 5.jpgColin (left), a sophomore and employee at SPU Mailing Services, delivering a package to a student working in the University Communications office.

thumbnail_Photo 1-1.jpgMarlena, a junior, ready to deliver mail…even in the pouring rain!

thumbnail_Photo 6.jpgLaura (me), loading up the van! Organizing the mail and packages into the back of the van is an artwork!

thumbnail_Photo 3.jpgLuigi Kart (get it? Like Mario Kart?)

thumbnail_Photo 4.jpgA beautiful day to be out delivering mail!

thumbnail_Photo 2.jpgA pretty average load for one route; don’t be fooled though! Some of the packages can weigh upwards of 50+ pounds!!