Let me tell you a bit about Alex Narramore. I found her because I found her WEDDING video that was shot by a studio local to me. I was struck by her personal style and the bold, artistic vibe of her wedding and could not get enough of the detail behind everything I saw captured. I commented on the video, and she, the bride, commented back.
Come to find out, she is one of the most detail oriented, talented vendors around and she is located right here in KY. I am so excited to share some of her passion and talent with you. Read on for our conversation.
Tell me a little bit about Why you started creating sugar flowers.
There is nothing more classic and timeless than working with flowers as a subject. You can find still life paintings of beautiful florals dating back a small eternity. They’re still as gorgeous and relevant as ever. It’s really scary to think that these varieties and specific flowers continue to outlive us all. People come and go, but the identical flower types are floating around decade after decade. Reinterpreted visually and
artistically only by the new generations of people who see them, arrangement and trend wise, and also in their art. You can still buy the same exact roses famous poet and gardener Vita Sackville West loved, even though she has long since left us. Flowers have official names, just like people, except they do not die and change. Example would be a Cardinal De Richelieu rose, a Darcy rose, or a Tess. They are always the same and do not change.
The history of sugar flowers is also fascinating. They’ve been around for over 300 years, since 1700! Their popularity originally began as French court dessert, during the eighteenth century. Detailed confectionary work was originally an expensive upper class practice, an excuse for the noble lord to show off his status and the skills of his pastry chefs to his guests. Renaissance desserts would often include colorful floral displays, sugar temples, and allegorical figures. Anyone could/can have a fresh flower, but having someone make them is more impressive and shows greater skill. Taking part in something that has such longstanding history as sugar work and baking really does give you a sense of connection to the past, continuing to leave behind a lasting visual contribution in the field.
We were instantly on a lifelong pursuit to achieve the most hyper realistic and botanically accurate flowers possible. It was important too that were also food safe and non-toxic, unlike fresh flowers. For many reasons, I do not believe fresh flowers should be used against or on cakes. Most are not organic, and many varieties are deemed poisonous and toxic, even if organically sourced, which is hard to come by. There is an instant appeal and magic to being able to create a foxglove adorned cake, as this could never happen with real flowers. All parts of a real foxglove are extremely poisonous. There is fun in the job, as realistic flowers made of sugar surprise people. The sugar flowers make excellent conversation at every party and are endlessly versatile in the ways you can assemble not just the flowers and greenery, but various colors, textures, and shapes together to convey that particular client’s personality, a certain mood, and my own vision. There is nothing more beautiful to me than a cake crawling with organically arranged sugar flowers, that look like they’re living, breathing, and growing up and over the cake itself. There is a mood, an emotion there that you can create when you control all the color, flower, fantasy, and texture elements. No seasonality needed either, which you have to adhere to with fresh flowers. With sugar flowers, you are limited only by your imagination.
What is your biggest inspiration? Who is on the team and what makes them unique?
Any sort of learning and exploration. Color. I absolutely love color. It is endlessly fascinating. I also love studying flowers, history, varying concepts, and , honestly, my clients. Without them fueling me by challenging me to interpret their own imaginations through my lens, I would learn far less about myself and the process!
My team consists of my mother, who works with me on all sugar flower cakes. My dad, who is a dentist, also helps with assembly and coloring on some flowers and foliage. My husband, Deron, who is a lawyer, can draw and sculpt. He is precise. He keeps us all organized, on time, and helps out with sculpted figures and cake orders. I think what makes us unique is our ability to work with each other to the depth of whatever the concept needs at any hours we choose. We also communicate with each other in whatever way we need in order to execute the job. You don’t have reservations to communicate to a family member that something is simply not working. We have emotion and passion to make the cakes as detailed as possible by devoting as much time as needed to each cake. This absolutely sets them apart. We don’t want to let the clients down, and we don’t want to let each other down either. Everyone tries their very best, lest they be judged by the others! We have people offer to come intern from many parts of the world, everywhere from Paris, France to New York and California. We may explore this someday, but keeping a close knit group of free speaking and competitive family members is much preferred for the time being!
What is the biggest difference between what you do and what you can expect from someone else?
We have integrity in what we do and show this by booking less clients to allow for as much detail as possible. We do 1-2 cakes per month total. One is good! So, truly quality over quantity. Each design is made only once and then retired forever. Other bakeries make up sugar flowers months in advance and churn out multiple orders a week/weekend. You simply cannot do this level of work in that fashion. Sugar flowers fade and lose freshness. It takes time and dedication to do less orders and keep the passion and detail. The retirement of each cake keeps the process fresh for us and maintains that special memory and moment for our clients forever. It will always be their cake and no one else’s.
Most people focus either on flavor or looks. We push ourselves to the bitter end for both. I have foodie clients that only care about the cakes and order them because they know they’re delicious and don’t want to waste money on something inedible, people that care about looks, and people that expect both! They are baked specifically for each event as close to the event that they need to be for full flavor. It’s frustrating at times to read so many marketing ploys and statements about “only the finest and freshest ingredients,” and this is coming even from the chain establishments. I truly do use the best ingredients with the utmost care. There is hardly a way to differentiate yourself based on verbiage alone, so the people that have tasted the cakes and know the expense of the ingredients are heavily relied on to relay the truth of what you’re saying. Lest I throw my hands up in the air for people to know that they truly cost a fortune to produce, both internally and externally, and with our time.
What are the services you offer?
Sugar flower cakes for weddings and otherwise are our specialty, but as sugar flowers are so detailed, any skills we have acquired learning them lends itself to any exceptionally high-detailed sugar work. This often spins in many directions that utilize any high detailed technique, even though it isn’t specifically a sugar flower or figure. I went to school for art and my family has always pushed themselves creatively. These acquired skills and desires overflow directly to our sugar work. The emerald bird cake and Bob Mackie inspired sequin cake are good examples of some of our most high-detailed cakes that do not involve suga
r flowers directly, but the equally fine handwork make them some of my very favorites. We also do sculpted cakes and figures, and things that involve, again, anything extremely color focused, detailed, delicate, and time consuming that a client wants to be beautiful, special, and delicious. I also enjoy doing macarons and often make these as an extra accompaniment to the cakes. I used to do many other desserts and even tablescapes, and probably could on special request, but I prefer sticking to cake and macarons for the time being!
What is the biggest reason a couple should hire you for their wedding day?
They want something that they cannot get anywhere else not just within the state, but internationally. Truly a one of a kind edible creation made of cake that is just for them. They want something that their guests will discuss and have a conversation about. The cake is a huge element, centerpiece, and
opportunity at a wedding. Who wouldn’t want the whole cake to be buzzing with excitement? I can attest that they absolutely do cause a buzz in the air! First by conversation with the sugar flowers and or detail work and then with the taste! So, I would say a client who has high standards and/or someone who wants to have a fantastically exciting party, as opposed to a boring one, are my clients. These fun elements and buzz make a party. So, any host or hostess that has big dreams and desires for the success of their event knows that anything unexpected that helps the buzz and chatter along with their guests is worth it.
Tell me your favorite part about your job?
Learning. Learning new things each and everyday and finding new ways to put what I learn to use. I love interpreting people’s thoughts and desires for these events and their imaginations through my own eyes and experiences and really bring something special to life for them. What could be better? Some people think things like beautiful cakes and parties, or even warm homes are superficial, even not needed. I think they’re needed more than ever. A detailed and beautifully crafted item that someone has made by hand has heart. Parties that have emotion, show care for their guests, create fun life lasting memories, and conversations that are unique and special, satisfy the soul. They let you bond further and connect with friends old and new, while sharing new experiences together. They make fond memories. The more unique the parties, the better the memories. The cakes play a direct part in enhancing these parties and, thereby, these experiences and memories. Much like beautiful art, these experiences make life worth living. I am happy to play even a small part in anyone’s unique memories.