Alternative Fashion

Cakes With Faces

Images courtesy of Amy Crabtree

Amy Crabtree calls her business Cakes With Faces because she enjoys putting cute smiley faces on illustrations of cupcakes. Her simple but colorful designs have become popular and ship worldwide.

Her designs have been features online in The Guardian and in entertainment magazines like the UK Movies, Magazines, Manga, and More.

A four panel comic on Cakes With faces’ webpage  tells just a part of her company’s story. Her website was originally just a place she used to show others her artwork, but it has since then become a business that ships worldwide. There is still however, a gallery on the webpage which features cupcakes cakes with smiley faces, much to the website’s own name sake.

According to the comic, designer Crabtree began the business in 2011 at  MCM London Comic Con, debuting with just 5 t-shirt designs. It has grown from the convention and her collections have expanded from t-shirts to items such as cushions, watches, and dresses.

“I like making cute designs to make you smile and to make everyday more fun,” said Crabtree, in the comic.

Fellow YouTuber, Cathy Cat made a video on Crabtree’s UK brand and said that Crabtree is “a real person”

Cathy Cat notes that there have been “loads of companies” that have “hacked into the Kawaii culture” The word kawaii means cute in English and is often used to describe the cuteness that comes from certain aspects of Japanese culture, particularly fashion.

Cathy Cat also stated that Crabtree has “an honest interest in Japan.”

In her video, she reviews two of Crabtree’s dresses: one with cupcake shaped constellations and the other consisting of a shark-college. In the video, Cathy grins as she shows the viewer the constellation design up close. Crabtree puts small details in her designs The constellations all have names such as the cupcake shaped Cupcake Maximus and the star shaped Crumbs.

Japan has a big influence on Crabtree’s business and her designs, which she creates all on her own. “Japan’s had a huge influence on my life,” Crabtree stated, over email.  “because without it I probably wouldn’t be running Cakes with Faces, or at least not in quite the same way.”

Crabtree began drawing when she was little and she always considered herself to be a creative person. She became interested in digital illustration after getting a graphics tablet and Photoshot magazines as a gift. After that, she began drawing cute characters—their concepts grew and turn into her company, Cakes With Faces.

Crabtree admires Japan for its emphasis on the adorable. “I love how cuteness is accepted in Japan – cute characters are everywhere and it’s not necessarily seen as childish like it sometimes is in other countries. Apart from design, I’m also a fan of Japanese food, fashion, music and I’ve been teaching myself Japanese. I love travelling there whenever possible.”

Crabtree did not became interested in Japanese culture until she began college. As a child, she did not know much about Japan. She did however, always admire “cute and colorful things.” She first discovered Japanese culture through anime. She used to go to an anime club where people gathered and ate sweets.

“From there,” Crabtree said, “I found out more about Harajuku fashion, Japanese food, magazines, kawaii design, music and travel in Japan. The more I discovered, the more I found that I liked!”

Crabtree also has a YouTube channel with over one-hundred videos, most of which take place in Japan. They range from videos reviewing restaurants such a sushi joint called Genki Sushi, to reviews of Japanese games, to exploring more of the historical parts of Japan, such as exploring through temples and old forests.

Several of her videos have thousands of views. Although Crabtree originally wanted to start her channel to spread the world of her business, “it’s become so much more than that.”

“At that time, I’d never made a video in my life, so there was a lot to learn!” says Crabtree. However, she really enjoys the process of making videos, including editing.

“.Lots of my videos are from my trips to Japan, and it’s great to relive all the memories and share them with my viewers. I genuinely want my videos to be helpful – a lot of people (myself included) are a little nervous going there for the first time, so it’s lovely when I get messages from people about how my videos helped them plan their trip.”

There are a multitude of other artists who inspire her. She adores Simone Legno’s artwork. He is the Italian designer behind the Japan inspired brand, Tokidoki. She loves Legno’s designs for “the cute, colourful characters, bold outlines and montages.”

But Simone Legno is not the only person who inspired Crabtree. “There are so many artists and designers that I follow and admire, including Junko Mizuno, Caramelaw, Mizna Wada, Miss Kika and Yoh, who draws the manga in Gothic Lolita Bible.”

She also follows artists on Youtube and some of her favorites are “are Simon and Martina (Eat Your Sushi) because their videos are so fun but also with useful, interesting content, and they have such an inspiring, positive attitude.”

Crabtree already has plenty of idea for her products for 2017. She is “currently working on some new dresses, and there’ll also be some completely new items too.”

Crabtree is also working on her second comic book, which she has been “drawing on and off for ages.”

She explained about the comic further, stating that “It’s a sequel to How to Make Sushi; a recipe book for other types of Japanese food, all in comic book format.”

Crabtree also has plans in store for her YouTube channel, as well. “I have lots more Tokyo vlogs coming up, and ideas for some more travel guide style videos, to share my tips for planning your trip to Japan.”

Cakes With Faces has become Crabtree’s full job, one that she truly enjoys.

“I think everyone should be more colorful,” said Crabtree, in the final panel of her comic book.

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