The girlboss of the baking business, Lily Vanilli continues to rise.
From a working art deco clock made from gingerbread, to a bleeding heart made of red velvet cake, this is badass, bespoke baking at its finest.
Lily Jones (aka Lily Vanilli) is an artisan baker and cake designer based in East London. Her bakery, just off Columbia Road, features a seasonal menu of sugary sweet treats and creates insane cake creations for the UK’s coolest brands.
It all started in 2008, when Lily moved back to the UK after working as a graphic designer in Australia. She arrived back home just as the country was hit by the recession. Struggling to find work, she knew it was time to get creative.
“I'm a self taught baker so I started out experimenting at home, I think I just got the sense early on that there was something fulfilling to be found in the kitchen. What I really love about being self taught is that it means from the very start you take your education in your own direction - it means you immediately start developing your own style.”
It was Lily’s experimental style that whisked her straight into the spotlight. From a stall on Brick Lane, she started selling her home-made creations and it wasn’t long before she accumulated a fan base.
“It happened really organically - I was selling a few cakes to friends and it became a press story - then I started getting orders. It was a while later that I realized I had a full time business on my hands and that I should start thinking about getting a proper kitchen.”
Starting from the bottom now she’s here, creating cakes for Alexander McQueen, House of Holland and Hello Kitty, just to name a few. “We never make the same cake twice, and it’s always the same level of stress and passion with each big commission because we’re always trying something new,” Lily says. “I really enjoyed making a sculpture cake for the V&A museum though - it was exhibited during the day and then cut up and eaten.”
Lily has been credited for bringing baking back, with creations that range from the kitsch to the gothic, from elegant floral designs to the wonderfully bizarre, she’s effortlessly blended cake with couture.
The icing on top of the cake is that not only has she been dubbed the ‘Queen of Baked Goods’ and proved herself a successful business woman, but Lily is also working to inspire the next generation of foodies.
In 2012, Lily co-founded the Young British Foodie awards, inspiring others to get creative in the kitchen in the search for the country’s latest innovative talent. Her advice for other creatives is simple – find your own style and focus on improving your skills.
“When you want to start a business, the tools for self promotion at the start are free, so spend time and money on developing a style that is uniquely yours. Before you start investing money into branding and marketing, focus on developing your skills and talent and when it comes to market, the difference will be clear.”
Lily’s latest project is the launch of a new patisserie range on the ground floor of Fortnum & Mason, where her sugary sweet treats will be available seven days a week for the first time ever.
“I think its a really exciting fit, a coming together of classic, grand London and modern East London. It’s also the first time you can get my cakes and pastries without ordering ahead, so its going to change everything.”
The only way is up for this baking babe, set to taking over the world with flour power and cake couture. It’s official, Lily Vanilli is on the rise and the proof, is in the pudding.
Get a slice of the action at http://lilyvanilli.com/
By Ellen Atlanta