The former microbiologist shares the habits and lessons that helped her transform into an internationally-celebrated cake artist.
I first discovered Elizabeth Solaru through her insanely beautiful Instagram page which is filled with some of the most beautiful and creative cakes and dessert tables I have ever seen —having worked for Preston Bailey for nearly 5 years, that’s saying something. Admittedly, opulent and lush, the designs put out by her company, Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, don’t take themselves so seriously they could ever be called stuffy. Finding the perfect balance between highly-refined elegance and playful whimsy is just one of the many reasons Elizabeth has won multiple awards and been featured in numerous national and international blogs and publications including Vogue, TATLER, Wedluxe, Strictly Weddings, The Telegraph, and BRIDES.
Here, the celebrated cake artist shares some of the habits that have helped her earn the trust of discerning clients including, royals, celebrities and high-net-worth families as well as some of the lessons that helped her transition from microbiology to luxury cake-making and turn her self-published book, OPULENCIA: Artisan Baking and Sugarcraft, into an Amazon bestseller.
The one thing I do to set myself up for success every morning is:
Every morning I meditate and pray for a few minutes as soon as I wake up, then visualize how my day will pan out. I am a very visual person and think in pictures and color and this practice really helps. I imagine as much detail as possible such as the sounds, smells, steps and this gets me motivated to start my day.
My go-to hack for staying organized throughout the day is:
Lists! I am addicted to lists. The process of writing one out and then ticking off each task as it’s accomplished fills me with a sense of achievement. Lists are a great way of making sense of my packed and chaotic diary and writing things down is the very first step to creating a sense of order and calm.
When I was a Biomedical Scientist I tried for years to get promoted and it was not forthcoming. Then the person who held up my promotion left. It then dawned on me that I could no longer stay in that position or organization because, even if I was promoted, it was not an organization whose values aligned with mine. I tendered my resignation without securing another job but I knew that if I did not pluck up the courage to do it immediately, I’d never leave. Fortunately, I found another job before the end of my notice period and the rest, as they say, is history.
The biggest career failure I have ever experienced was:
I have had a number of personal and professional failures but the most important thing is to learn from each failure (look at what you would do differently and also anything that went well) and keep moving.
I overcame that failure by:
Taking responsibility for my own career development and leaving [those] situations. I believe in using each failure to develop self-awareness and empathy and the motivation to go on to bigger and better things.
The greatest lesson taught to me by rejection has been:
Rejection is not final! Also, rejection is not a definite no. Sometimes, it’s just a “not yet”. Some rejections are blessings in disguise. I have found rejection to be character-building, and weirdly some doors have opened because I have been forced to look elsewhere. For instance, my book OPULENCIA: Artisan Baking and Sugarcraft would not have done as well as it did if publishers had not rejected it. The skills I learned through self-publishing and getting on Amazon’s top-selling list as well as into a physical bookstore like Waterstone’s would not have happened if not for the rejection I experienced.
The best career advice I ever received was this:
Embody the spirit of reciprocity and kindness. Work hard and network to help others and just not yourself. Many people say that your network is your net worth but people can be unpredictable. The ones we think of as assets may end up being the wrong fit for us. The ones we think we have nothing in common with may turn out to be our champions. What I’m trying to say is never to look down on or underestimate anyone. Help those you can with no expectations.
The podcast I love to listen to is:
The Sunday Times Secrets of the Style Hustle. Love how it is female-led and covers a range of business topics.
I believe everyone needs to read this book:
My two favorite books are Who moved my cheese? by Spencer Johnson and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen Covey. I relied on these books when I made my transition from Biomedical Scientist to Headhunter and Career Coach.
My secret-tip for leveling-up is:
Say yes to most new experiences and try and improve your productivity by just 1% every day. Also, go out of your way to help someone new once a day/week/month.
The best thing I learned from the worst boss was:
Oddly, I learned the most from my worst boss. The hugest lesson for me is that no one is in charge of your career and well being but you. You do have the choice of accepting or walking away from a toxic environment although it may not seem like it at the time. With distance, comes perspective and clarity, so don’t allow yourself to be locked in a job relationship that’s no longer serving you or your needs.
The trait that I believe makes someone stand out as an all-star is:
The ability to attract people to you by connecting with them on an authentic and genuine level. Human connection fulfills one of our most basic needs and it’s an opportunity to be of service to someone else. People that stand out tend to have a great attitude, are confident, communicate brilliantly, and bring out the best in others.
My professional motto is:
My professional motto is quite simple. What you don’t wish for yourself, don’t do to others.
The advice I will leave you with is this:
I would say; dreams are free, so dream the biggest you can. Having no money or connections should not deter you from following your dreams. I think it just makes for a more creative and adventurous journey.
A bit of tenacity and the right kind of hard work goes a long way. Get over your fear of rejection and reach out to people, but when your network, do it to give and not just take. Have a growth mindset and permit yourself to keep making mistakes as long as you keep learning from them.
Reciprocity and kindness are two things that have helped me in my journey. Even if the people you help don’t help you in return, someone else definitely will. Create good energy and a great reputation and good karma will find you.