Depressed Cake Shop Addresses Mental Health Issues With A Sweet Pop-Up

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Rainbows hidden beneath gray cakes (Photo courtesy Depressed Cake Shop)

A pop-up bake shop aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues will bring desserts, live music, photography, fashion and wine to Santa Monica this weekend.

The Depressed Cake Shop, a project that first began in the U.K. to raise money for mental health charities, will host a two day pop-up event at the Streetcraft LA store and studio, beginning with an opening party on Friday. The event will feature a massive bake sale with cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more from bakers around SoCal.

While many of the baked goods will be decorated gray as a visual metaphor for depression, some of them will reveal a rainbow of colors when cut open. There will also be jewelry, photography, clothing and more for sale. All proceeds from the pop-up will benefit St. Joseph Center’s Mental Health programs in Venice.

Valerie Van Galder, who is organizing the pop-up, tells LAist that she was originally inspired to launch an L.A. pop-up of The Depressed Cake Shop in August of 2013 after reading about the project's founder Emma Thomas of the London blog Miss Cakehead. "It was such a huge success that I decided to continue with the effort," Van Galder explains. "We are now a worldwide grassroots collective of bakers and organizers who have raised nearly $100,000 for local charities in each market where a pop up is hosted."

Van Galder explains some of the benefits of attending the pop-up:

Everyone who attends a Depressed Cake Shop comes away from the experience with a better understanding of how love and community and CAKE can help people feel comfortable sharing their experiences dealing with mental health issues. Knowing you are not alone and that there are people who understand some of the things you have been facing is incredible healing. It has been one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.

This time around, Van Galder has partnered with young founders of Wear Your Label, a socially conscious clothing company in Canada, and together will launch a new limited-edition, co-branded t-shirt at the event. There will also be original photography for sale from Danielle Hark's Broken Light Collective, who is flying in from New York for the pop-up. They'll also be selling mugs, greeting cards, jewelry and, of course, baked goods.

"My personal connection to the effort was inspired by caring for my father through many years of severe depression, and seeing first hand how confusing and lonely it can be when you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health issue," Van Galder tells LAist. "It is an 'invisible' disease and has many challenges that are much different than other illnesses."

The Depressed Cake Shop pop-up will host a gallery opening reception with cake, photography, music and wine on Friday, May 6th from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event will then be open on Saturday, May 7th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (or until they sell the last cake).

You can find more information and RSVP on their Facebook page here.