Meet Jessie Moore of CakeSpy in today’s Dream Jobs Q&A!
The first time I met Jessie Moore of CakeSpy, she was wearing a bright blue dress with rainbows and unicorns on it (the same one as in the photo above, in fact). She introduced herself to the group I was with by saying, “Hi, I’m Jessie! I am so glad no one wore the same outfit as me.”
I knew immediately we would be friends.
Truly, Jessie is as genuinely funny and chipper as she seems in her writings and illustrations. She recently moved to Asheville, N.C. — which is two hours away from me —and I am so glad she did so I can take in her sunshine whenever I like! (And eat her baked goods, too. Jessie’s Nanaimo Bars are heavenly.) From the first time I met Jessie, I’ve had her in mind for a Dream Jobs interview. Her multi-faceted business, her work as an eating disorder activist and her whimsical art inspire me so much. (Just look at that unicorn coloring book!) I’m so excited Jessie is sharing her story on F+W today. // susannah
1. How would you describe CakeSpy?
Cakespy.com is a Dessert Detective Agency dedicated to seeking sweetness (literally) in everyday life.
What the heck does that mean? It means that I want to delight you with what I do. The ways that I deliver delight? Primarily through decadently delicious recipes and baking experiments and confectionery themed art projects. If that sounds a little quirky, well, you’re right. CakeSpy is a happy place that encourages you to bake (and live) with sweet abandon. I know that you’re wondering how I make money, so I will tell you how, not necessarily in order:
- Recipe development: Developing recipes for companies featuring their products (so, like back of the box recipes).
- Sponsored blog posts: People pay me money to write about their chocolate/yogurt/etc. If I like it, and they want to throw money at me, sure!
- Freelance writing: I write for a number of blogs and publications on a number of subjects and get paid for it.
- Lessons: I give cooking/baking and art lessons. Mostly for children.
- Etsy: I sell my work via my Etsy shop.
- Freelance illustrator: People pay me to do art. I love this kind of money-for-work situation.
- Yoga: Unrelated to my blog, but I am a certified yoga teacher, so I make money by teaching people how to open their hearts, bodies and minds with yoga.
2. What were you doing before CakeSpy? What inspired you to change paths?
Well, I’ve always been very interesting, attractive and talented, but I haven’t always been CakeSpy.
Before I was a professional seeker of sweetness, I was an art school dropout who found her way in the stationery business. In 2007, I was the art and product director at the refrigerator magnet division of a greeting card company (yes, really).
I had always wanted to start my own company and, when I didn’t get a promotion I wanted, I did some soul-searching as to what my own company would include and what it would be. I knew that it had to include my three greatest loves: illustration, writing and baked goods. It was the united trinity of deep loves that allowed CakeSpy to be born.
3. When ideas are scarce, where do you turn for creative inspiration?
When I need inspiration, I turn far, far away from anything related to my work. I also turn away from my creature comforts. I turn off the computer, I turn off the TV. I go for a long drive or a trip to a new place (even if it’s two towns away!) or for a long walk down a road I’ve never walked down before. I try eating something I have never tried before. New things make me feel alive and make me reawaken to my everyday world.
I also teach yoga (really) and I feel like whenever I teach a class, I get totally recharged!
4. Describe your workspace.
Well, Jessie rhymes with “messy” so I am only living up to my name destiny by maintaining a little bit of creative disarray.
Right now I live in a little log cabin (approximately 700 sq. ft.) in Asheville, N.C. I have a large desk in one room that has my photo station and my laptop and my art supplies; the next room over is the kitchen. Between these two work-spaces, all the magic happens.
5. What have been your biggest successes and challenges for CakeSpy?
One of my biggest personal successes was getting a book deal and writing a cookbook, and then getting another. Interestingly, and I’m just being honest here, my cookbooks are probably one of the lesser sources of income for my business, but in terms of things that make me feel legit and indicate to other people that I actually have a job? Thumbs up to the book deal business.
One of the biggest challenges in being a writer about sweets is that I am a recovering anorexic and bulimic, with about 20 years of disordered eating under my (varying-sized) belt. I know, it sounds like a Lifetime Original, right? But as odd and backwards as it seems, writing about, making, photographing, drawing and generally embracing sweets has proven HUGE in my eating disorder recovery. A portion of my website, entitled Unicorn Love, is dedicated to recovery.
6. What are your dreams for CakeSpy?
I want to have a cartoon show along the lines of my favorite Nickelodeon cartoon show growing up, DOUG. I even named my dog Porkchop after the dog on that show!
If anyone would like to write me a huge check and / or fund my potential cartoon show, you go ahead and contact me ASAP.
7. Who do you look up to?
I always try to find something fascinating about everyone I meet — whether it’s their cool mustache, their mad photography skills or their love of typestyles. So in one way, I’ll be a jerk and say that everyone has the potential to inspire me.
But I realize that you are asking for specific people, so I will say: my parents (my mom, Margie Moore, is a famous children’s book illustrator; my dad is perhaps less famous but just as talented a painter and a badass surfer to boot); my sisters; the Love of My Life, Compton, who has a heart so big and beautiful I can barely even fathom. In terms of famous people: Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Saul Steinberg, William Steig, Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl.
8. Where and how do you love to spend your time off?
I consider it a day off when I don’t take photos of what I am eating. Time off is relative for a freelance writer-illustrator-baker who works from home.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a yoga teacher — and an avid yogi. If I’m not at home working, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find me either teaching or taking a yoga class.
9. What resources do you recommend to someone whose dream job is your job?
Begin by believing in the impossible and by believing in yourself. Then, spend some mindful time coloring in my unicorn coloring book. And also read these books:
- Every single thing Roald Dahl ever wrote (even the adult/sexy stuff)
- My Autobiography (Neversink) by Charlie Chaplin
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
- The Philosophy of Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey (Yes, really.)
- Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business by Kari Chapin
- Arm in Arm: A Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia by Remy Charlip
10. If you weren’t running CakeSpy, what would be your dream job?
For some people, their identity remains separate from their job. Personally, my job is my life. I know that I wasn’t always running CakeSpy, but it has become my identity now, so it is difficult to picture my life without it.
My dream has always been to be a writer and an illustrator. So maybe if not for CakeSpy, I would basically be doing the same thing but without the baked goods.
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