Bria Taylor, 24, owns Killa Cakes. She creates imaginative desserts with unexpected ingredients. The Unicorn Vomit cake includes Pop Rocks, Cereal Killa has Fruity Pebbles buttercream, and Gimme Covfefe has a Dr. Pepper caramel sauce. You can find her at killacakes.com and on Instagram @killacakes.
You have a background in graphic design.
I think a lot of my wanting to experiment comes from graphic design. I went to George Mason … I studied for a Bachelor in Fine Arts. I did a lot of hands-on stuff in the beginning of my college years. Then towards the end it was computer heavy and I was getting so bored and my eyes were hurting. I just wanted to be able to touch things and mold things.
Cakes was that way for me to get out of staring at a computer for eight hours a day and use a more creative side. With graphic design you are creating a puzzle where a person gives you a design idea and then you, with your art background, have to mesh your art knowledge and their wants and needs into a cohesive design. The unfortunate part about it is that often times, the stuff that you think looks amazing is never the one that’s chosen.
Cakes is the one thing where I was just like, “I can make this. I can make it the way I want it and it will look nice.” I have to merge my ideas and their ideas into a cohesive cake design, but I feel like I get a lot more creative freedom than I get with graphic design.
Your cake offerings are so imaginative and fun. How do you come up with your flavor profiles?
My process for making flavors literally involves me sitting on the couch and just typing like, “What sounds like it would go well together?” I’ll start off with a name of the cake, and I’m like, “What would be good in that?” Then I always try to add an element of surprise.
What’s your most popular cake?
Annoyingly, my most popular cake is the Unicorn Vomit Cake. Out of all of them that is, honestly, my most normal cake. It’s a confetti cake and it has white chocolate buttercream and then it has cotton candy Pop Rocks in it. It’s a fun cake, but because of the unicorn craze, that was like the only thing people ordered. I was like, “I have way cooler flavors, you guys!” Surprisingly, Snack Attack is actually this year’s most popular cake as the unicorn trend has kinda gone away.
However, now the new trend is Moana. So I have a lot of Moana cakes, but those are fun. They are very tropical. Actually, I have a huge one coming up in May, which I’m terrified for because it’s going to be so hot. So now I have to figure out how I’m going to transport my cakes with some type of cooling system. I also have to figure out what kind of boxes I want to put them in, just so there is an extra layer of support there so that they won’t melt, because cakes melt in a heartbeat. And that is the most heartcrushing thing ever to open a box and see that it’s slanted and it’s melted.
Many people don’t take the logistics behind transportation into account. It’s tricky!
It is so tricky! When I was first doing my cake business I had a 1996 Ford Explorer. It had no air conditioning. I had to figure out how I was going to transport this cake in the dead of summer in a car that had no air conditioning. I would have to roll down my windows and that helped a little bit. But I would have to freeze it rock solid and as soon as I was about to leave I had to grab it, put it in the car, and just go and hope and pray. It ended up in me speeding at high velocities because I was like, “I can’t slow down!” Luckily I never got a speeding ticket, ever. But now I have my actual car which has air conditioning, and it’s lovely. I’m still looking into getting a refrigerated truck, but those are like $70,000. They are so expensive!
Where do you do your baking?
I bake out of two places. I bake out of my home and then I also bake out of a commercial kitchen space in Charles Town, West Virginia.
You go to West Virginia to bake?
I do. I’m trying to get my commercial kitchen space here (in D.C.) with Mess Hall, but I haven’t been able to because finances haven’t come together yet. It’s a 45 minute drive, so it’s really not that far, but I have to be very specific about what I do there.
You’ve done a few collaborations with other local businesses.
I think the first place that I worked with was Femme Fatale D.C. with their pop-up shop. We pushed a lot of vegan stuff there, and that pushed my vegan market as well. I think ultimately I kinda opened up this business wanting to be open to vegan stuff, because I feel like there’s such a stigma that vegans are like these tiny, super healthy creatures—which they are. But then there are also a lot of vegans that, you know, just don’t want to harm animals but eat terribly. I really wanted to reach out to that market and show that you don’t have to be this tiny, skinny thing to be vegan. You can be fat and enjoy cake and still be vegan and eat a ton of sugar.
You worked recently with another local store, Steadfast Supply?
I did a pop-up with them two or three weeks ago. It was the first time people could really buy my Cake Bombs. I was selling them for a little bit at Femme Fatale, but they were all vegan, and it was more like an experimental stage at that time. I launched them there (at Steadfast Supply) and I launched Killa Cake Bars, which are cake truffles that are shoved into a chocolate bar and then all the awesome fillings that are with my cakes.They did really, really well. I ended up making over $300 in two hours.
For me it was an eye opening moment. With cake orders, because they are expensive, I get anywhere from eight to 15 cake orders a month. It’s one of those businesses where the money that you get goes back into the cakes, essentially, because you have to re-up your ingredients, you have to get decorations. Where with graphic design the only thing I’m really paying for is my Adobe subscription and some stock images. So, I saw huge profit from Steadfast … and I think that was a pinnacle moment for me. I was like, okay, my business actually is doing well. I think I have something that I can proceed with in the future and make into a really awesome business.