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It’s impossible to not get personal in this introduction of Lyndsay Sung of Coco Cake Land. One of the loveliest, most multi-talented humans I know, Lyndsay is a baker, blogger, photographer, writer, designer, and mama based in Vancouver. She’s been a close friend, supporter, and sounding board for all things creative/small shop/crazy social media related. So it is with complete bias and immense pride that we celebrate Lyndsay’s talents and NEW BOOK launching August 14th. Below we chat about work, family, cakes (of course!), and more! Hope you enjoy reading (and be sure to follow her blog and Instagram feed for all the lovely posts!)!
~ xx Miko

Let’s talk about the launch of Coco Cake Land: Cute and Pretty Party Cakes to Bake and Decorate on Roost Books. Your first book! How did the book deal come about, and how do you feel as launch day approaches?

Oh wow… well I have always wanted to publish a book… since I was nine years old, writing goth/horror/teen romance/fantastical/mystery/whatever stories back in elementary school, haha… Back in 2014, my good friend Steph from I Am A Food Blog and I were talking, and she had just put out a book, and I was vaguely working on one but I didn’t know what I was doing. She offered to introduce me to her literary agent, and the agent liked my work and wanted to work together – so I worked with her in creating a proper book proposal, and then she shopped it around to several publishers! I had phone meetings with maybe six or seven editors/publishers – and then, the book went up for “auction” – SCARY! Two publishers bid on my book, and then I got to choose who to work with – I went with Roost, because I got a really good vibe from talking to them, and the books they were putting out were really beautiful, thoughtful and creative books. From book deal to publishing date, the book has taken four years to come to fruition, because two years were knocked out by my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment – so to have it finally coming out is… I get teary eyed a lot! I lost my mind when the first copy showed up at my door. I couldn’t even open the envelope for five minutes. I was really scared for some reason, worried it wouldn’t live up to my hopes and expectations. But I finally tore the envelope open and saw my book, and I really really love how it turned out, and I feel proud of it – there are little pieces of my life and world in there, how Rich and I first met, our son Teddy, little Easter eggs of our life (like there’s a fox cake in there with a cake flag that says “Fox On The Run” which was one of Teddy’s favourite songs at the time…) so it feels representative of the time it was created in a really nice, reflective way for me!! And it is CUTE! Bright, colourful, with lots of fun and not-too-complex ideas to make parties pop. I feel proud of it, and ready to share it, now that I’ve seen it!

Your blog is such an amazing, unique combination of beautiful cakes and photographs, useful recipes, and heartfelt/humorous stories and anecdotes. Did you have a plan for the blog when you started it, and how has it evolved since it began?

My blog is turning ten years old this year, remarkably/ironically on Teddy’s birthday, August 20. This date has become a huge part of my life! When I first started it, NO PLAN. It was a piece-o-ugliness of a blogspot blog with a hugely long URL – brutality point and shoot photos, and just slamming up work any old time I felt like it. It started as a document of what I was working on, then once my hobby turned into a jobby, it became a portfolio of my cake work and a place where people could contact me for ordering cakes… and then it also took off on the interweb, as my cake designs were shared and viewed by other bloggers and fans. Ahhhh if only I knew about monetizing my blog back then, haha…! I always sorta wrote anecdotes and stories to go along with the cakes but nothing too too serious – mostly kept it funny. Of course, life went awry in many ways, as it does. But somehow, I’ve always found my way back to my blog! My blog is perhaps like my loyal pet, always here for me, when I need to write something or create something, a visual and written document of many years of my life. Then, in 2015, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my blog became my little helper again. That, and Instagram… tiny ways to remain creative and work on something if I felt like it, and then, my blog allowing me to express the painfulness and reality of my experience through breast cancer treatment, through cake and writing. My fears, and hope. Honestly, I find it very hard to read what I wrote back then. I actively avoid rereading it, even. During that time I also wrote a secret blog, as a journal – so, writing and blogging has helped me so much through my life!

I have from time to time tried to make a “plan” for my blog, a schedule, goals... But I always suck at trying to plan it out. I can’t do it unless I am passionate about it, or having something to say, or share. So, even though I’ve been able to monetize it somewhat in the last few years, my blog is not a mega money maker… my blog is also a touch on the weird side. Like I won’t shy away from talking about vaginas or being a feminist on my blog.

I love that your cake designs vary in theme – kawaii animals/creatures, gorgeous florals, political/feminist – but are always so uniquely you. What advice would you give to someone who is starting out (as an artist, baker, etc.) and trying to develop her/his own style?

Thank you for saying this! Sometimes I feel my cakes are so disparate, but I think they share my modern, clean and colourful aesthetic, always with a touch of craftiness, i.e. paper cake toppers or typography – and perhaps they are linked by the captions in my Instagram or writing on my blog post – convivial, casual, jokey, sometimes reflective or emotional! I think developing one’s own style takes time, work and repetition – some research too, and inspiration. You never know what might inspire you – colours, patterns, a piece of clothing, a peach butt GIF!

Would you say that becoming a mom has changed your career path at all, or your approach to your work?

I think I’m very lucky in that the job I was doing before I got pregnant was working from home already, making cakes and blogging/freelancing. So I got to spend a lot of time with Teddy in the five years before he started Kindergarten last September. I think, becoming a mom changed my life completely, and what I value in life. That, along with going through cancer, has also reinforced my outlook – I don’t want to give time and energy to things that don’t make me happy or fulfill me – life is short, and I don’t know if I have a few years or decades more.

You've become a role model for breast cancer awareness, after writing about your own diagnosis and treatments on IG and your blog. Your story is undoubtedly helping other women through their own journeys now - what helped you when you were going through yours?

I immediately went to the internet after I found out I had cancer, to seek solace, to read about other women’s experiences. I was very scared. I found a whole world of breast cancer blogs. I made friends with other women going through treatment online, and still keep in touch with them through Facebook or Instagram. I also belonged to a private Facebook group for young women diagnosed with breast cancer – that was invaluable, along with my awesome therapist through the BC Cancer Agency. And in my private life, my family and friends were an immense support. Teddy was such a little guy at the time, just two and a half! I shared a lot about what I was going through online. I didn’t plan on that, and I wasn’t entirely sure about sharing that first post on IG, then the blog, until I saw the outpouring of support and love from SO many amazing people, blog friends, Coco Cake Land fans, supporters from all over the world. That truly helped my spirits. A small gesture, like a card in the mail, or a delivery of flowers, or a kind message – that really helped.

What’s next for Coco Cake Land?

I’m somewhat interested in making a weird little arty cake making internet show, but I feel like I need a sidekick, someone to riff off of, instead of just chatting to the camera, along with a producer and people who know how to make that stuff, ha! I have a few more book ideas going, too.. I don’t think too much will change with Coco Cake Land! Hopefully it will just continue to be a source of fun, creativity and amusement for me as well as a source of income and an outlet!

Five Fun Facts!

Favourite meal of the day? And what, specifically?

If I could, I would eat crunchy bowls of cereal with ice cold whole milk, all day every day. I love cereal. It’s one of my danger foods. Life cereal, mini wheats, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes… even the healthier cereals - instead I’m a loser and I have oatmeal with fresh fruit, almond milk, and nuts and seeds like a forest animal. But occasionally I will hoover the cereal. I also love a brunchy type buffet. Like, a save-up-your-calories for it bust-a-gut situation. Waffles with whipped cream, maple syrup, strawberries. A pile of crispy bacon and sausage, and a teensy pile of salad on the side to visually offset the other stuff.

Favourite thing to do on a rainy day?

With Teddy: snuggle up under a blanket and watch a movie with him.
Without Teddy: snuggle up under a blanket and watch a movie I want to watch, lol.

Favourite designers?

For clothing, lately I’m into wacky colours and prints – I’m trying to wear more of those things and dress more colourfully, as I’m drawn to that stuff but then usually just resort to a striped tee and black jeans. Right now I really like Dusen Dusen, Henrik Vibskov. I really love Kindah Khalily’s colours and shapes…

Last book you read? (and/or favourite authors/illustrators)

I always have thirteen or so books on the go. I’m currently reading George Saunders' Lincoln In The Bardo, the Bravetart cookbook, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and rereading Samantha Irby’s We Are Never Meeting In Real Life. In between that, I found a free copy of Girl On The Train on vacation recently, which I’d never read and felt like reading something breezy, and blew through that, too! Haha. Oh it wasn’t a breezy topic though, but just a juicy quick read. I’m not above reading a blockbuster! Favourite authors and illustrators, obviously must say Julie Morstad, Today is one of our total favourite books, it reminds me of the types of books I loved as a kid – lots of fun detail to go back to and discover something new each time. Which haircut do we like today, which ice cream would we get today, what will we wear today… it changes each time we read it! I bought the hairstyle print from that book too, it hangs in our dining room and Teddy’s friends and cousins love to look at it. We also really like How To Make Friends With A Ghost, a hilarious, sweet and lightly goth book with great illustrations. I love books and illustrators that look like they’re from the 1960s or 1970s. Oh we also continue to love Marc Boutavant’s books, especially Mouk, we’ve been loving that one since Teddy was two years old. Soooo much to discover and talk about with each page, all the different countries and animals and tiny drawings and wordless stories all throughout the book. We like to gift that one a lot! One of my favourite kids books is a vintage kids Golden book called Pantaloon, about a poodle who longs to be a cake baker… hehe. Love the illustrations and the story, I had it before Teddy was born, because I think poodles are hilarious and obviously cakes - and now we read it together and love it.

Favourite three products from the A+C store?

Love this simple wooden ice cream truck puzzle toy – sweet for babies but also looks great on a shelf! I bought it for my niece for Christmas last year.

A+C has so many great books in stock too, but I fell in love with Wiggles at your Got Craft booth – love the vibrant colours and simple shapes and textures, again both colourful and fun for babies and toddlers but also nicely designed and cute on a bookshelf!

I also love my soft Girl Power grey heart tshirt, it’s cozy and comfy! 

Thanks so much, Lyndsay! xx
{You can purchase her book here on A+C, or at her Vancouver launch on Aug 18 at Collage Collage.}

{All photos by Lyndsay Sung except profile pic, by Lori Kiessling}