November Cake Decorator Spotlight
Belly’s Bake Shop
I am pleased to bring you, Courtney from Belly’s Bake Shop from Dallas, TX for November’s Cake Decorator Spotlight! I am always so impressed with her remarkable talent for everything she makes! Read on to learn more about one of the best bakers in Dallas, TX.
Hi Courtney! Tell us about yourself.
Hi, all! I’m Courtney Armstrong and I live in Dallas, TX. I am engaged, I have a Pomeranian named Stella, I hate doing laundry, I love to make people laugh, my favorite TV show of all time is Frasier, and I swear Crocs are the perfect shoes for bakers!
How long have you been in the cake decorating business?
I have been baking since I was 14 and started coming up with a business plan when I was 18. I officially launched Belly’s Bake Shop when I was 22 years old on September 22, 2008, which makes 11 years of being in the biz. I’ll save you the quick math -yes, I am indeed 150 years old.
What is the biggest accomplishment of your baking career?
Running my business full-time is a huge accomplishment for me. For 10 years, my caking business was a side hustle and always took a back seat to my office job. I left my office job in November 2018 and launched Belly’s Bake Shop full-time! It’s a very fortunate position to be in and I am so grateful for my customers who allow me to pursue my passion!
Do you have a memorable cake that challenged you?
OH BOY, DO I. It was upside down; yep, you read that right. A 3-tier cake: biggest tier on top, smallest tier on the bottom; which is gravity nightmare in and of itself. It required building a custom internal support structure (cue very handy engineer fiance) which was made to be Cake Safe transport box compatible, the cake was delivered in the heat of Texas summer on a pothole-riddled highway, oh and did I mention it was for THE MOST FAMOUS POP SUPERSTAR IN THE WORLD, Ariana Grande? No pressure… It was an immensely physically and mentally challenging, but looking back, I am so proud of what I was able to accomplish.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love seeing a cake vision come to fruition. To formulate a design in your brain and then create it with your hands is very gratifying. The moment you step back and see what you’ve created is surreal and fulfilling.
What are your go-to techniques when designing a cake?
Without a doubt, using acrylic disks is my go-to technique. Not just any acrylic disks; Cake Safe acrylic disks. They have saved me HUNDREDS of hours trying to get smooth sides, level tops, and a sharp clean edge. If there was one product I truly can’t live without, it’s my Cake Safe acrylic disks. They revolutionized the way I make cakes and I am forever indebted to this product for taking my business to the next level.
Do you have any advice that you’ve learned from years of experience in the cake decorating industry for someone who is starting out?
I have a few, if that’s okay. My biggest tip is DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF to other people. On social media, you don’t know someone’s background or skill set, and you almost never see their failures. Comparing your work or skills to others will also impede your journey to finding your own style and what works for you! Take the time to practice and learn from your successes and failures. Keep detailed notes so you can improve. Weigh everything. I know it sounds so a bit obsessive to weigh EVERYTHING, but it really helps you dial-in your recipe costs, streamlines your baking times, helps with purchasing ingredients, and more! And lastly, do not base your prices off of anyone else’s -not even in your geographical area. Calculate your ingredient costs, factor in your time, and decide how much you can/should profit from there.
I love your Instagram feed. Do you put a lot of thought into setting up your feed?
Like you wouldn’t believe. When I was preparing to launch my business full-time last November, I realized that the Instagram feeds I was most drawn to (baking and lifestyle) had a consistent feel. This made me realize that I wanted to a curated aesthetic to my page. For me, that manifested itself in a way that brings people along my baking journey. If you take a look at my Instagram grid, you’ll notice a pattern: Right to left is always: a full shot, by a detail shot, and a video. Row by row, I’m telling you a story. The full photo shows you the finished creation in its entirety, the detail shot shows you what your eye may not catch or something extra special, and the video shows you how I created it all. In my captions, I usually include instructions, tips to achieve a particular technique, or use it as an opportunity to be candid about how challenging it may have been to create!
Share a fun fact about you!
I love Irish whiskey. Going to whiskey tastings, discovering food/cheese pairings, and learning how whiskey is made is fascinating to me. Bonus fun fact: my fiancé and I got engaged in Ireland at the distillery of our favorite whiskey, Tullamore DEW!
What is your favorite food?
I LOVE spicy food and non-regional (to Texas) cuisine. I live for Indian food, Thai food, Mediterranean food and more!
My Favorite Work
The Swan Queen Cake
Here she is, in all her glittery golden glory!! The Swan Queen.
Animal Cookie Confetti Cake Cones
I did these to celebrate the launch of my new flavor ‘Animal Cookie Confetti’ with these cone cuties!
Glam Rock Unicorn
A punk rock unicorn with a bejeweled mohawk, razor-sharp edges, and glittery eyelashes Yep, that’s me in the cake form.
Galaxy Cake Gems
These are geometric galaxy cake gems made with candy melts/chocolate.
Purple Geode Cake
My first geode, and she’s a special one! I made this cake to honor my lovely, hilarious friend’s birthday. Pink and purple ombré hues, inspired by her beautiful two-tone hair and a kiss of gold.
Marbled Embossed Cookies
Emerald Marbled cookies with a kiss of gold leaf for a rustic minimal wedding. They are also perfect for male celebrations!
Retro Cherry Cake
Bold stripes, bright colors, and a cherry on top. Does this cake give you modern vibes or retro feels?
Cry Pretty Tour 360 (Carrie Underwood)
Sometimes I make minimal, elegant cakes and sometimes I make over-the-top, extra cakes like this; it’s called balance.
Extremely honored for the opportunity to create this cascade show stopper for Carrie Underwood’s #CryPrettyTour360 in Dallas, TX at @aacenter last week!
LOL Surprise Cakesicles
I get so many requests for ‘LOL’ cakes, but cakesicles were a first!
All Black Everything
This theme was BLACK CAKE, which is elegant, dramatic, edgy, and artsy!
This macaron lineup is almost as good as the artist lineup for the 2-day Crossroads Guitar Festival. The flavors were Cookie Butter, Lavender Vanilla, Fruity Pebbles, Red Velvet, and Pumpkin Spice.
Spooky Szn Halloween Cake
I did this abstract spooky glam cake with an isomalt sail for an Amalfi Decor cake collab!
7 Rings Inverted Cake
Ariana Grande “7 Rings” cake for her Sweetener World Tour stop in Dallas! This inverted cake was inspired by the upside-down concept that appears throughout Ariana’s albums and tour artwork!
Major themes in this cake: jewelry (DIY hair clips, a bridal dash to mimic a necklace, metallic dragee rods to simulate dripping in jewels!) Lots of graffiti and splatter paint, and lots of glitters.
Thank U, Next Cakesicles
I also did these Thank U, Next cakesicles for Ariana Grande’s Sweetener World Tour.
Thank you so much, Courtney, for sharing a little bit about you and your gorgeous work!
Be sure to visit her Instagram for lots of inspiration, videos and discount codes (from sprinkles to acrylic cake discs).
Check out the recently featured bakers below!