Tuesday, March 24, 2009
So unless you are a weirdo, you can't go to Cakespy's website without 1) salivating immediately 2) spending a lot of time reading and drooling over Jessie's creations of the edible and not edible sort 3) feel inspired. The brainchild of Jessie Oleson's is a story that has inspired many artists and business people alike. And there are so many reasons why. I know this is not plush but I find her story so inspiring that I wanted to share it with all of you. Please leave a comment here with contact info for your chance to win a surprise gift package from Jessie herself. Enjoy sweeties.
S- To start, for our readers that may not know who you are, can you please explain the basics. Who, What, Why?
Cake- Helllo plush buddies! My name is Jessie Oleson (pronounced like the twins, even though it's spelled funny), and I am the Head Spy at a dessert detective agency called CakeSpy. I have a website where myself and a group of family and friends write about bakeries, recipes, and baking experiments; it's all sweetly punctuated by my original artwork, which consists of anthropomorphic baked goods, which I also sell. The motto of the site is "Seeking sweetness in everyday life", and I like to think you can find a lot of sweetness on the site!
S- At our last Grassroots meetup, I found it really interesting that you get so much mail. That is so fun! Can you tell us about a few of the more unusual things you have gotten? Favorites?
Cake- I love getting mail! Most recently, some of the highlights have included cupcakes shipped from Fields of Cake in Maine (alas, they were NOT OK upon arrival), cupcake dental floss from Archie McPhee, a condom-holder with cake artwork on the outside...and as a wild card, a biography of the woman who started POM Wonderful. Let's just say the mailman regards me with slight suspicion.
S- You recently did the street art installation in Seattle. Can you tell us more about that and how that worked out for you?
Cake- About a month and a half ago I made a big batch of fake cupcakes to which I affixed flags with uplifting sayings and placed them randomly throughout the streets of Seattle--I kind of thought of it as a big happy pill going out to the world. It got a great reaction and so now I am doing it on an ongoing basis whenever I have time to make a batch, and have posted a tutorial on how to make them in case others want to bring the project to their own town or city. So far I hear that people have been making them in Portland and NYC!
S- I think your story is so inspiring because you are now working solely on your Cakespy project. When you started did you know what to expect? Did you have goals and ways to make yourself bigger or did it just grow organically?
Cake- When I first started, all that I knew was that I wanted some sort of outlet to combine my loves of writing, illustrating, and baked goods--I thought, why not start a blog while I figure out what I want to do? However, what I didn't count on was the blog becoming what I actually do--leading to a webstore, and basically becoming its own complete sweet community with all sorts of baked good related content and artwork. It's basically heaven.
S- You have done a lot of grassroots marketing to grow Cakespy. Can you tell us what has been more effective for you? Things that did not work?
Cake- For me, what has really seemed to work in terms of promotion is when the projects we do on the site go "viral". While I can't say what the formula is for this, I think that it really has to do with having unique content, or doing something that will register with people. For instance the cupcake art installation got a lot of attention on blogs and on the radio, which translated into more hits on my website, and hence, more hits to my webstore. Other posts that have gotten attention have been my cupcake shipping experiment , Twinkie murder spree and candy salad tutorial . I also send out and randomly leave a lot of postcards with my artwork and mission statement around the city and really, everywhere I go--so that people can come across CakeSpy in sweet and unexpected ways. I mean, if I randomly found a cute postcard or cupcake sculpture out on the street, I'd be pretty psyched, so I can only imagine that others would be too!
S- You share some great recipes. How often do you make new baked goods? (oh and if you ever want to share...well you now know where to go)
Cake- I don't bake every day, but I would say maybe 3-4 times a week. I don't consider myself a great baker, but I am an enthusiastic baker and I love to try new recipes. If I'm to be completely honest though, what I love best is eating other people's baked goods. I'm so lucky to be in Seattle--there are so many great bakeries here.
S- What new products might we see from you in the future?
Cake- I'm currently working on more apparel--tees, baby onesies, etc--and some new stationery products like little notebooks. On the horizon--i.e., when I gots cash, I also want to source and produce a figurine of my most popular character, Cuppie the Cupcake.
S- You have done some great interviews. How often do you do them and how do you approach folks for them?
Cake- Whenever I come across a baker or bakery that intrigues me, I will usually ask for an interview; generally I will tell them about the site and send them links to a few of the other interviews I've done in the past so they can see what it might be like, and then we take it from there.
S- What are some of your big goals for the rest of 2009?
Cake- Businesswise, I really want to start setting up more wholesale accounts; I just printed up a flyer of my products so I'm pretty excited to get that out there; I'm also pretty keen to start working on a children's book with my baked good characters (fingers crossed!). Baking-wise, I seriously want to make the 15-layer cake (some crazy Southern thing a friend told me about), and in terms of travel, the RoadFood feature on "Heavy Crumb Cake" from Hackensack, NJ really resonated with me, so I definitely want to go there!
S- What is your all time favorite dessert? What is your favorite cupcake?
Cake- Shh--don't tell cupcakes, but my true favorites are birthday cake (something about the middle layer of frosting in addition to the top layer!), crumb cake, black and white cookies and--weird, I know--corn muffins.
As cupcakes go, as psyched as I am to try all of the crazy varieties out there these days, my favorite is--and will always be--vanilla cake with pink buttercream frosting.
Thanks Jessie for the awesome interview! Don't forget to leave your info here for your chance to win your own sweet treats from Jessie!