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A Piece of (Fake) Cake

The cake might not be real, but the money is.

What: Whimsical fake wedding cakes
Who: Kimberly Aya of Fun Cakes rental LLC
Where: Grandville, Mich.
When: Started in 2007
Startup costs: Less than $1,000

Kimberly Aya's career choice was an easy one. When she was just 8 years old, she started designing cakes for her chocolate-loving father--and she hasn't stopped since. So, after getting married and moving to Turkey for 15 years, her first order of business upon returning home to Michigan was to open a specialty cake shop in the U.S.

Aya started showing off her cake-designing talents at bridal shows, where she was soon struck with an idea. Although most show participants use fake cakes only for display, Aya realized that a large percentage of brides actually prefer the look of fake cakes. A few months later, she turned her bright idea into a business when she founded Fun Cakes Rental. "I don't care if I do a fake cake or a real cake," says Aya, 52, "as long as I get to decorate, because that's what I love."

Aya gets that "just like the real thing" look for her fake cakes by using gum paste and fondant for the frosting and decorations. Each cake, which is mostly made of foam, also includes one edible section for the bride and groom to share before it's switched out for pieces of regular sheet cake. "I use the exact same products you'd use on a real cake," says Aya. "[They] look homemade and real, and that's important to me."

With business booming, Aya now decorates and ships cakes to brides all over the world and even designs cakes for wedding scenes in movies. This past August, she signed a deal with Macy's to make visual prototypes for its department stores. With 2009 sales projections of $120,000, Aya is busy with plans to franchise the business throughout the U.S. by year end. "I'm one person who gets to come to work every single day and absolutely love their job," Aya says. "I'm very fortunate."

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This article was originally published in the March 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: A Piece of (Fake) Cake .

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