Having such a wonderfully creatively indulgent job I personally I feel it is important to give something back. Each year Cakehead Loves creates and executes a charity cake sale; past events including Cakes for Japan which sold only sushi shaped cakes with the money taken donated to the Japanese Red Cross following the Japaense Tsunami. For 2013 I wanted to create an event which would generate awareness of mental health issues and crucially provoke, and create a platform for, discussion. Having generated large amounts of broadcast and print coverage we certainly suceeded in that aim with coverage incuding Radio 5 Live and The Guardian, and global national daily papers in countries such as Hungary. We also had massses of local media coverage which led to me being quizzed about camping on BBC Radio Suffolk (!!!), but particularly warming has been how this regional coverage and boosted the local bakers it featured. The Depressed Cake Shops have turned into monster, in a good way. What started as a small London pop up sell selling only grey cakes has snowballed into a international mental health fundraising campaign with pop ups happening in Pakistan, Malaysia, Argentina and the US. The concept of the Depressed Cake Shop was purposefully straight forward allowing the widest audience possible to engage with mental health issues in a very ‘light’ way and I feel this is the key to it’s success.
1) Get volunteer bakers to make grey cakes and other sweet treats
2) Sell these grey treats and donate the money to a mental health charity
It’s also a creative fresh concept which overcomes charity blindness. As One & Other comments:
Don’t afraid to be tongue in cheek
Last week’s consciousness raiser for depression and mental health in Britain succeeded in capturing the public’s imagination. Called the ‘National Depressed Cake Shop’ this innovative bake-sale featured cakes designed and made by those with mental health problems, which featured names such as ‘the way ahead looks rocky road’; ‘basket case fruit cake’. Fundraising does not naturally lend itself to this sort of self-depreciation or sardonic tone: adopting it may make you stand out amongst the crowd. It also shows the confidence you have in your charity and lends a little personality to what can easily become an impersonal task.
I would say our customers certainly support this view with ‘fruit cake’ and the ‘nut job’ bakes being the top sellers! Personally a really rewarding part of the project was seeing so many people gain confidence as they organised their own successful depressed cake shops, or as customers bought their treats which they felt no one would ever want. This will be something which unites all depressed cake shops around the world. So what next? It is no secret I have never wanted to run a charity, and never will, so am currently speaking to various charities and brands about ensuring the project has a legacy for the future. Giving them a gift wrapped proven fund raising concept which also generates exceptionally high levels of engagement. My dream – Mr Kipling grey fondant fancies.
NOTE: Huge thanks to Melanie for not only hosting the London shop at Suzzle but being so open about how baking has helped when when speaking to the media. A very brave woman who I know has helped countless others with her openess about her own personal mental health issues.