We had the good fortune of connecting with Gisel Merrifield and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gisel, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
While I do think it’s important to have balance in your life, I have learned that there is really no such thing as “perfect balance”. A big spiritual leader of mine taught me that I won’t be able to fully give exact amounts of time every day to all the different areas in my life, but what I CAN do is to BE PRESENT. When I am at home with the kids playing, I am giving them my full attention watching them being silly and interacting with them. When I am doing homework with them, I am fully there helping them with their assignments. When I am out with my husband on date night, I am out with my husband enjoying our time together! When I am baking and decorating a cake, my attention is fully on that process. Be where you are and enjoy the little moments.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was a music major in college and I have always loved creating, whether it is music, crafts or even life moments. I love celebrating. To me, life is to be celebrated. I love celebrating my kids birthdays, friends having babies, our anniversaries, even holidays! I love the decorating part of it all as well. I have always had that side of me. Back in high school, I was the public affairs relationship person in the student council and I was responsible for advertising all events, dances and games. I remember staying up all night making posters for every door, hallways etc. I enjoyed it so much. Fast forward to my first born. I couldn’t wait to celebrate her first birthday. I decided to make her a “puppy cake” because she loved puppies so much. Let’s just say I could’ve been in one of those Nailed It shows and they would’ve gotten a good laugh at my puppy cake. I told my husband to remind me to never make a cake again. Fast forward another 7 years to the glamorous year of 2020. My girls share birthdays which has been super fun and I wanted to give it a try at making a cake again to make their pandemic birthday special. I called my sister in law and she guided me through every step of the way on FaceTime. She was amazing for sharing her tips and answering my million questions. I still had no tools, but I LOVED the process and how my first layered cake turned out and most importantly, my kids obsessed over it. They wanted me to open a bakery right away. The challenge was, we were living in LA in the middle of a pandemic. I was hooked though. My husband got me a decorating kit and I started baking and decorating like crazy, trying to perfect my scraping, icing and piping skills. I started looking up tutorials and figuring out different decorating techniques. I was making a cake literally every other day and started surprising all my friends with cakes to try and get their feedback. The look on their faces when I showed up with a cake at their doorstep was priceless. That’s where Surprise Cakes was born. I got amazing feedback, kept practicing, gifting cakes and all the sudden people started placing orders. It’s been such a fun journey though challenging, when our family decided to move here to Texas and that meant I had to start from scratch with clients again. Still a learning process but it feels amazing to have started something of my own. I feel so honored to be a part of someone’s special occasion.

At the end of 2020, our family including my 4 children, husband and parents went through a traumatic experience. We were in a severe car accident/roll over on the highway after our Christmas vacation. Miraculously, all 8 of us walked away from that terrible accident. I am a firm believer that we had angels protecting us that day. This experience has obviously been another big challenge. I had to put my business on hold for a couple months due to our injuries and everything else we had no idea this accident would entail. Thankfully, I’ve been able to slowly get back into it and started decorating again. This has made me reflect on how fast and short life can be. An experience like this gives you perspective. This is why now, more than ever, I love and celebrate life. I am grateful for every day I get to live and every cake I get to make for people to celebrate those they love.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was in town I’d definitely take her to Fort Worth! My husband is a Fort Worth native and it really is such a fun place. We would first go to the Fort Worth Zoo and feed the prettiest giraffes. We’d then buy some cowgirl hats and go to the Stockyards to enjoy the cattle drive. Then we’d go eat at Joe T’s and hit the rodeo! I did this for the first time with my sister a few weeks ago and we had the best time. I can’t wait for someone else to visit so we can do it all over again. We would also enjoy some of the museums in Fort Worth like the Kimball museum and end at The Original Mexican Restaurant. Being born and raised in Mexico, I have a soft spot for Mexican food. Later in the week we would go to Downtown Grapevine. Such a cute little place to walk around and so family friendly. We’d eat at Esparza’s and enjoy their deep fried stuffed brisket avocado. We would end the day at Kilwin’s for dessert and stop at the cutest shop, Grapevine’s Market on Main and buy a lot of unneeded things.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have had so many friends and family support me throughout my journey, such as my sister in law Aubree from Texas Belle Cakes, who taught me the ropes of cake decorating. I have been very blessed and for that I am forever grateful. I would also like to thank my mother in law, Skylar, who was extremely supportive when I started this journey and even sent me “comfy” tennis shoes so my feet wouldn’t get tired from standing so much. I would love to dedicate this shoutout to my husband though. Every project, every new skill I’ve ever wanted to learn, he has been there 100%. From buying me my first set of decorating tools to taking care of the kids so I can develop these new skills, to helping me advertise my first cakes amongst his friends and even driving me to deliver some of them and last but not least, trying all my bakes—which I’m pretty sure that’s his favorite part of it all! Thank you baby for your continued support and encouragement and for always making me feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I love you.

Instagram: @mysurprisecakes

Other: I am currently only taking orders through Instagram.

Image Credits
Jessica Merrifield Photography

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