Hashtag cake, a staggering 64 million times and counting. With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram can be a formidable tool when it comes to showcasing certain brands and commanding attention within a desired audience. If your business is baking and your product drop-dead gorgeous, you’ve hit the sweet spot because there’s a whole universe of phone dependent people who eat with their eyes and are dedicated to gateaux-gazing on the ‘gram.
Sweet Lionheart, the successful online pâtisserie studio in Woodstock owned by longstanding friends Nikki Albertyn and Karmen de Reuck are happy to blame it all on Instagram. The brand first started pulling a cyber crowd in 2015 when Nikki, a qualified graphic designer then training as a pastry chef at Silwood, began posting pics of her baked goodies on her personal page. Scrollers noticed, commented and started making enquiries so she activated a dedicated Sweet Lionheart account and graced it with her beautifully styled and shot photographs of Sweet L’s delectable confectionary, all available at the tap of a screen. Sweet toothed Saffers Liked, Followed and DM’d in the thousands, and just like that, the online business was established and their web fan base now stands 26K strong.
The carefully curated gateaux gallery showcases a broad repertoire to complement any event and occasion. From wedding cakes to tarts, wreaths, letter biscuits, macarons and rocket pops, there’s something to suit your fancy. The pièce de resistance everyone lusts after however, is undoubtedly the textured buttercream cream cylindrical cake, a multi-tiered masterpiece that is making sugar-fiends swoon.
Globally, master bakers with flair are taking full advantage of Instagram to showcase their talent and drive trade. Top pâtissiers like Katherine Sabbath, Jyoti Nanra and Clifford Luu boast close to a million Followers between them, their common denominator being Insta feeds that pop with colour and artistry. These Instabakers have elevated cake decorating to a level of science and like the Lionheart ladies, approach their work with almost as much precision and focus as one would expect from an architect or builder. There are dimensions to consider, plus stability, aesthetics, colour palettes and embellishments, all underpinned by a fastidious attention to detail.
Because Sweet Lionheart operates sans a shopfront, customers connect on the app via private message or by filling out the contact form on the website which has a broad range of baked goods from which to choose. For bespoke creations, Nikki and Karmen (also an SEO specialist) meet clients by appointment to discuss each special occasion. The cake crew, a talented all-girl sextet, take it from there and work the brief, cross-pollinating seamlessly between their kitchen stations as they whip, pour, shape, spread, smooth, paint and sprinkle. Cake décor is a thing and the Sweet six have it down to a fine art. Adornment is inspired by divine variables like fresh fleurs, geometry, florals, sculpture, Monet and nature. The possibilities are endless and as the creative process unfolds, aspects of the journey are captured on Insta Stories, the 15 second visual add-on that draws Followers in even deeper. As soon as each item is ready for the world, Nikki takes the shot and voila, another mouth-watering image is dropped into the timeline.
You want a cake, you know you do, so pick an occasion and order one. “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Exactly Julia Child, and so say all us. #cakeitorleaveit
The name Sweet Lionheart was inspired by Porter Robinson’s song ‘Lionhearted’ that Nikki heard when on holiday in Istanbul with her boyfriend, origami whizz Ross Symons, aka @white_onrice on Instagram.
A web developer by trade, he ultimately found the corporate environment to be stifling and would constantly dabble in other creative pursuits, like origami. His particular forte was making diminutive paper creatures and in 2014, for fun, he began to post pictures of his tiny creations on the ‘gram. “The response was unforeseen” he says, “in eighteen months the account grew to 100k (he is now on 114k) and interaction with my followers made it clear that there was a business waiting to happen. It did, and today I am a full time origami artist and Instagrammer”. Today White On Rice works with clients from all around the world creating social media content and origami installations, as well as specializing in origami stop frame animations.
Ross dedicated that year to improving his craft and Shared a different origami figure every day for one year. Designs are a combination of his own and those found online and in books, used with permission. Fast track four years and he is currently on his second 365 day project. 2018 has seen him explore origami in a new light and hone his photography skills. At the beginning of the project he would place the miniature folds in scenes that best showed the size of the figurine. As the months passed, he started using his hands to make sign language letters of the first letter of the origami shape. “So if I folded a frog, I would have my hand in the shot holding the origami and my fingers would sign the letter ‘F’”, as below.
Insta success is enviable and everyone wants it but it takes strat, skill and commitment and a fair insight into algorithms. From his own process, Symons has learned that planning is key to innovation and one has to stay continuously motivated to come up with fresh ideas and complete a project like 365. He works off a detailed spreadsheet complete with a dateline, references for each fold and noting each colour backdrop so that he doesn’t use the same backdrop colour consecutively. The aim is to create a colourful gallery layout with a timestamp/watermark on the corner of each photo to show each single post as part of the series. Goal achieved.#creativitypays