As a matter of fact, after founding Flour Shop, Kassem has gone from just another fashion-world stylist, hanging out at the parties, to the artist whipping up its centerpieces. Following a six-year stint working for magazines and Johan Lindeberg’s BLK DNM, Kassem found herself at the center of a vibrant, inspiring world doing something that just didn’t feel genuine to her. “I realized it wasn’t for me,” she says. “I mean, I learned a lot, but it didn’t feel like it was artistic work I could call my own.” So, she reached back into her youth to find something she could grab on to. “I stick to things that make me smile, whether it's food, friends, jokes, balloons, surprises, fireworks, music, dancing, ice cream, or shoes,” she says, with a huge grin on her face. “They all come from a pure place. I mean, it’s okay to grow and learn, but there’s no need to stop liking the things you've enjoyed all along.”
Granted, dropping out of the styling game to make, of all things, cakes is a bit of a gamble. But — somewhat surprisingly — Kassem's work has quickly become the toast of the fashion set. Her giant, frosted (and completely delicious) cakes, which look like cartoon hamburgers, doughnuts, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and confections in other smile-inducing shapes, have starred at parties and promotions for Terry Richardson, Henry Hargreaves, Warby Parker, Olivia Wilde, Chrissie Miller, Phillip Lim, and dozens of other high-profile clients. “One of my friends describes me as an artist and that cake is my medium. I sculpt cakes, paint them with frosting, and top them off with sprinkles!” It’s absurd, wonderful art that’s all her own — until we get our forks into it, that is.
We stopped into the Flour Shop kitchen to talk independence, inspiration, and imperfection with our favorite baker.
"I can think of many exciting things that have happened with Flour Shop, but I think the greatest moment was the moment I realized I didn’t really need anyone else to do what I wanted to do. Now, I wake up excited to work every day. I've turned my kitchen into a playground, and I get to play with food all day! It's a childhood dream come true! If you’re not feeling that way about your work, then it's time to quit your job and start doing what you love. It doesn’t matter if you went to school for it or not. If you're passionate about it, you’ll learn."
Perfect Is the Enemy of the Yummy
"I don’t use fondant, which is a big challenge when my work is being compared to perfect-looking cakes done by other cake artists. Although fondant may look perfect and can take any shape, it doesn’t taste good, and I like every part of my cakes to be not only edible but enjoyable. I'd rather have streaks and imperfections with buttercream than to see people peeling my cake before eating it."
Baked to Order
"When people order a cake, I can't really explain what it will look like, because it doesn’t start to unfold until I start working on it. So, yes, although people know what they ordered, the finished product is only in my imagination. As for what's in my imagination, well, my clients are so specific about what they want that they've become my biggest inspiration! The more I know about the person receiving the cake, the more detail it gets. That's why my favorite part is seeing people’s reactions to my creations. The way their expressions fill me with joy is why I try to deliver every cake myself!"
"The name 'cronut' is not my favorite. I like 'doissant' better! I don’t really have a million hours to stand in line, so I haven’t tried it yet, but the idea sounds fun — a combination of two treats into one. Personally, my two favorite treats are popcorn (I smell sweet stuff all day, which naturally makes me crave salty!) and ice cream, so my take would have to be popcorn ice cream. Yum, yum, yum! Just like Donna Martin in 90210!"
See more from Kassem and other visionaries at ORGNL.TV
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Hair and makeup by Andrew Colvin