Welcome to the cake hole
Contrary to what you might have assumed, Jasmine Archie isn’t a cake person. Even though she’s the founder of Pretty Shitty Cakes, a fake cake home decor brand, Jasmine rarely craves the real thing. “I love sugar, it’s a problem,” she admits. “I'm being a little dramatic when I say I don’t like cake. I’ll eat certain cakes, but it’s definitely one of my least favorite sweets.”
It all started when Jasmine’s 25th birthday was approaching this past January—she originally wanted a ceramic cake to commemorate the special occasion, but procrastination got in the way of placing an order in time. So naturally, she turned to YouTube tutorials to learn how to make a version of her own. “They were already a thing, but it wasn’t big,” Jasmine tells Clever. “I was like, ‘Let me see what I can do with these,’ but I knew it had the potential to blow up because it fits in with everything [trending] right now.”
Fake food isn’t a new concept. When we look back on our childhoods, most of us can probably remember playing in miniature kitchen sets where we prepared imaginary meals with pretend food. Perhaps this newfound obsession with inedible pastries is the next phase of the kindercore movement for grown adults who just want to have fun. As far as cake is concerned, Jasmine thinks that our current fixation isn’t nostalgic so much as it’s an association with unadulterated joy; the difference now is that there’s an aesthetically pleasing object that allows people to keep this feeling forever in a tangible form. “When you think about cake, there's always some kind of celebration happening,” she says. “Cakes go hand in hand with something happy.”
Of course Jasmine’s instincts were right, but she certainly couldn’t have predicted that this hobby would become her most profitable revenue stream—she’s a professional photographer. During the past six months of being in business, Pretty Shitty Cakes has sold around 400 fake cakes for $85–$125 each. (Jasmine’s personal favorites are the Cherry Bomb and Scream Queen designs.) In April, she introduced a batch of cupcake magnets to the roster that cost $35 each. Last month, Pretty Shitty Cakes even hosted its first pop-up at a market in Austin.
A cake begins with Jasmine constructing the base out of cardboard and then making a mold with a cake round (bought from local craft stores or Goodwills) that is sealed with hot glue and staples. To make the icing, she mixes spackling paste and paint with a spatula. The final steps are adding the toppings and finishing with piping around the cake so customers have the option of mounting it on a wall. After completing the hour-long process, which she finds therapeutic, Jasmine feels like she baked a real cake without having to pop it in the oven.
Lack of edibility aside, Pretty Shitty Cakes falls in the same arts-and-crafts category as Sam Raye Hoecherl’s Gemini Bake, Lexie Park’s NÜNCHI, Alli Gelles' cakes4sport, and Sharona Franklin’s botanical jelly sculptures when it comes to the trendiest cakes of Instagram. The beauty of this niche is that it also serves as a portal to a sweet escape—these artists are offering us a new way to play with our food. If nature is healing, a decorative cake is a vessel for comfort. So far, Jasmine’s confections have been spotted out in the wild and on full display in the homes of quirky creatives like Samantha Klein, Jazmine Rogers, Sophie Colle, Camille Nichelini, and Yuka Iwasaki.
Lately, Jasmine has been spending most of her time in the studio developing prototypes for new home goods like tissue boxes, vases, and full-length mirrors that are made out of upcycled materials. “It’ll always evolve,” she adds. “I have big plans for Pretty Shitty Cakes, but I don’t really know what they are yet.” Shop the latest online restock while supplies last.
Original article appeared on Architectural Digest | Author Sydney Gore