Roxann Loux decorates cakes for a living, but she doesn’t call herself a cake decorator. She and her crew of confectionery savvy coworkers at Hy-Vee prefer a more vivid title.
“Us girls call ourselves ‘sugar arts designers,’” Loux said with a smile. “Because ‘decorator’ is just plain. We make it more fun.”
She currently lends her fresh-baked skills to the Hy-Vee bakery on Hamilton Boulevard in Sioux City, bringing with her 33 years’ experience in “sugar arts.”
Loux, who grew up in South Sioux City, has always considered herself an “artsy” person.
“I used to draw a lot when I was growing up,” she said. “I took a woods class in school. I built my own cupboards when I lived in Homer. I love scrapbooking and anything you can do with your hands.”
She got her first cake job working at Sioux City Bakery for a little over a year until it closed, eventually making her way to various Hy-Vee locations around Siouxland.
She held a cake decorating position at Hy-Vee for 10 years. Back then, Loux wasn’t quite making cakes as complex as the ones she makes now. She learned more as the years went on before becoming a “travelling cake decorator” for CSM Bakery Solutions, furthering her expertise.
“I travelled all over,” she said. “I’ve been to Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota – I mean, pretty much everywhere in the Midwest.”
The more people Loux worked with, the more she learned and the more talented she became.
“There’s no right or wrong way to decorate,” she said. “Everybody has their own technique. The more people you work with, the more techniques you learn. Then you just make them your own. You perfect it to your capability.”
She does it all from intricate and ornate wedding cakes to wildly creative pieces made from fondant and butter cream. Others, like a patriotic-themed cake complete with an eagle’s head or a music-inspired dessert with a guitar and fondant hand-horns, seem impossible.
“I do about anything,” said Loux, who finds herself most inspired by the things she loves. Her favorite times to decorate cakes are during Halloween and the Fourth of July. But she said her mind is always wandering and looking for inspiration outside of the work place.
“I get home and research and start looking stuff up,” she said.
Other times, Loux wants to get to know the customers requesting specialized cakes. By the end of the conversations, she has an idea about what they want for their wedding or birthday or other special occasion.
It’s an ideal and a method Loux strives for even when those cake orders stack up and she and her coworkers only have an 8-hour shift to get every order done on time.
“We had four wedding cakes in one weekend and then two stacked birthday cakes – I was pretty stressed,” said Loux. “I have two good girls I work with, Belinda and Steph, and they do a great job too. They help me shine, I think.”
The satisfaction of making customers happy is what Loux aims for. How does she do it? Well, a heck of a lot of icing certainly helps.
“They’re coming to with a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary or even a death, and they’re asking you to do something for a part of them,” said Loux. “They’re expecting the world from you. I try hard to make people happy. That’s what I want.”
Loux sets high standards for herself and her work. She can feel the pressure, but it’s never a bad thing.
“It’s an exciting pressure. You just push yourself to come up with something bigger and better and bolder. Something that’s going to make somebody go up and go, ‘Wow! How did you do that?’”