Dear Readers: After nearly 11 years, I've decided to lovingly say goodbye to CakeSpy.
Before I say anything else, I want to say thank you.
A big out-loud thank you to YOU, if you're reading this right now...or a silent thank you that you might not even know about, sent out into the universe to every single person who has ever ever read this site at any point over the past ten and slightly more than a half years.
If at any point in those years you have clicked over to this site, you have been part of its story. If you've purchased my art or one of my books, you've been part of my modest yet (to me) amazing success.
For that, simple words of thanks are hardly sufficient. But I want you to know that I am truly thankful from the deepest and most tender parts of my heart. I mean, who the hell am I to have blogged about cake for 11 years? Nobody. It's you who made me somebody, dear readers and friends. And I love you for it, and always will.
The Story of CakeSpy
Nearly eleven years ago, I lived in Seattle. I had just gotten married. I lived in a cool little apartment in Queen Anne, near the Space Needle. I was also sub-clinical anorexic (more on that in a minute). I worked at a greeting card company, where I was the product manager/art director of the refrigerator magnet division. Having reached a point where I couldn't advance much further in that career, I decided to start my own company.
I was reading a creative-inspirational book called The Purple Cow at the time, from which I got the idea that rather than starting a company that I thought made sense, I should design a company aligned with my interests. I remember taking a half-day off of work and taking a walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park, where I sat down by a big ampersand sculpture, and having a mini meeting with myself wherein I thought "Well, Jessie, what would your ideal company include?"
(Note: as a little aside, years later, when the book The Purple Cow was reissued, it included reader shout-outs to businesses that inspired them. CakeSpy was one of the businesses mentioned! That was a beautiful thing! Pictured below...)
The answers came to me with startling ease:
Not to sound creepy, but it's like some godly voice simply spoke these words out loud to me, they were so clear.
The former two, writing and illustrating, made perfect sense. Though never trained as a writer, I've always been a natural writer. At the time, I had recently begun my first freelance writing assignment, for a now-defunct yet pioneering website called DailyCandy. Art-wise, I had studied illustration in college, and art has always been an important part of my soul.
Baked goods were the odd man out, because honestly, at the time I didn't even know how to bake. I knew that I thought about baked goods a lot though, and that even in my most restrictive eating days, I would reserve calories for sweets above anything else. It would not be unusual, for instance, for me to eat a cupcake as my main meal of the day and then eat basically as little else as possible to remain alive.
I didn't know how on earth writing, illustrating, and baked goods could possibly form a business, so I decided to start a blog so I could figure it out. That's when the magic started happening.
I decided on the name CakeSpy because it sounded a little mysterious, but also not super specific. Like, it gave me room to explore baked goods but also room to grow, unlike if I called the website "Jessie Loves Cupcakes" or something.
Now, to give you a little context, the blogging world was way different in 2007. Basically, every food blogger knew each other. That's an exaggeration, but really not by much. Our photos basically all sucked, and our content wasn't super polished. Search optimization? Never heard of it. Sponsored posts? Never even entered my mind.
But there was this kind of raw energy to blogging in these pioneering days. It was exciting. It wasn't unusual for me to stay up until 3am working on posts, simply because I was just so EXCITED about creating things. People would walk by my apartment building in Queen Anne at night and say that they saw me through the big picture window, on my computer, well into the night, when they were walking home from the bar. As a blogger, you were like a producer, writer, and director. You were making things happen.
In not too much time at all, CakeSpy began to take off. It wasn't quite like any other blog. I had a unique voice, I had illustrations, I had a funny way of approaching things. I began to be noticed. I was featured on Serious Eats, which was a huge deal; I began to be noticed by local press. I was becoming Known.
Meantime, in my personal life, I was still struggling with disordered eating. I believe that CakeSpy was also pivotal in my recovery. As I began to explore baking and working with food, I began to lose my fear of eating, and I began to embrace food (and life) a little bit more. In retrospect, I think of the commencement of CakeSpy as phase one of my recovery.
I began to believe in myself and my abilities more. I kept on gaining exposure and doing things with my site. To tell you the truth, I became kind of an internet celeb for a while.
I took over an art gallery in Seattle for a time (remember CakeSpy Shop?). I got a book deal. Then I got another book deal.
In my personal life, I still struggled in various ways. I got divorced and decided to close the store I'd co-owned with my husband. That was a pivotal time in my life; unfortunately I suffered from a big eating disorder relapse. I moved to Philadelphia to be closer to my family and to try to heal.
After a year in Philadelphia, as I began to emerge from my relapse, I moved to Santa Fe with a new partner. It was supposed to be for a few months but ended up being a few years. During that time, I really got into yoga, which I credit as a big part of commencing my true and earnest eating disorder recovery. It was during this time that I "came out" as a disordered eater on this website.
All the while, I kept on keeping on with CakeSpy.
I ended up going to Asheville to do a yoga teacher training, and liked it so much that I went back to live there for a while.
And still, I kept on being CakeSpy.
Last year, following a sad breakup, I moved back to Philadelphia, which is where I believe that my "rebirth" began several years ago following my divorce. I bought myself a little house on a street that I lovingly call Cannoli Row. Here's a picture of the mural I painted inside:
As I have found myself in my new and true home, I have begun truly thinking about who I am, and who I want to be. And I've had a big yet bittersweet realization:
My journey with CakeSpy has come to an end.
As you can see by reading the above, I have gone through some monumental changes in life throughout the time that I have operated CakeSpy. Simply put, as I continue to navigate life, love, and recovery, CakeSpy no longer feels like the most authentic expression of who I am. It is no longer aligned with my mentality toward recovery, nutrition, or lifestyle. I truly believe that while when I started CakeSpy it helped me take my first steps toward eating disorder recovery; however, now, to continue my journey, I must lovingly let it go.
I will always love CakeSpy, and I am alternately awed, thankful, surprised, and humbled by the wonderful things that have happened here. But now, it's time to move on to other things.
So what now?
1. I'm probably going to cry a little (gawd, so weepy)
2. Early next week, I'm going to switch the main focus of this site to an expanded format for Unicorn Love, which is currently my eating disorder section of the site. I am going to adapt the content and see how it goes, incorporating more art and life writing. Next week, I will also expand on the changes in my life, eating, and more of the reasons why I am making this shift, if you're interested.
So, the idea is that if you come to this site in the future, you'll see a site called Unicorn Love, which will have the CakeSpy archives still accessible.
3. I'm going to switch my social media pages over to Unicorn Love as well (or I may create new ones, let's see how it goes with all that).
Well, my friends, it's been realer than real. Thank you so much for being part of the CakeSpy story. I love you so much.