by Denise M. Watson
Whip It Good
Roses, gore, sneakers and more: A Virginia Beach baker makes her kitchen an art studio.
Mimi Ospina’s cakes are a feast for the mouth and the eyes. The self-taught cake artist runs Whipped Up by Mimi from home in Virginia Beach, where she has made hundreds of elegant, funky cakes from scratch for weddings and birthdays and just about any other event you can think of.
There are mermaid cakes and cakes with edible pearls and cakes that look so much like roses you’ll dodge thorns. There are Halloween cakes with severed, bloody fingers and eyeballs stewing in lime-green frosting. There are sports cakes that feature red, white and blue Michael Jordan low-tops, with laces untied and red eyelets that match the Jordan logo on the shoes’ tongue.
The challenge is fun, but the payoff comes when Ospina sees her customers say, “Wow!”
She grew up in New Jersey, watching her grandmother in the kitchen. Her mother suggested she go to culinary school, but she went into nursing instead and married a Marine.
The couple was stationed in Japan in 2012, and she soon found herself making cakes for promotions, retirement parties and weddings. She launched her business that year, experimenting with cupcake flavors and spending every free moment watching videos and communicating online with professional cake designers. She managed to learn how to do everything from creating 3-D desserts to building the scaffolding for towering cakes. She even learned how to paint realistic landscapes onto fondant.
“I’m a huge DIYer,” says Ospina, now 32. “I will try it myself before I pay anyone else to teach me.”
Skills honed as a nurse – patience, observation and attention to detail – helped. But as much as she enjoys creating edible art, Ospina doesn’t want the business to overshadow family time; now she takes off one week a month to spend uninterrupted time with her husband and their three children.
Also, she’s such a stickler that she isn’t sure she could train employees to meet her standards. A simple two-tiered cake can take five to 15 hours to complete. And her cakes are rarely simple.
“I want my customers to have the very best,” she says.
“I want it to be perfect.”