Amirah Kassem arrived at the POPSUGAR Play/Ground festival bubbling with positive energy and wearing a rainbow sequined bomber jacket — basically the living embodiment of her Instagram-famous rainbow explosion cakes.
It comes as no surprise that the baker and founder of Flour Shop by Amirah Kassem is one of those "birthday people" who enthusiastically celebrates her birthday, her half birthday, and all of her friends' birthdays. "I really try to live what I call the birthday lifestyle," she told POPSUGAR. "You know, when you wake up on your birthday and everything is exciting. You wear your favorite clothes, you eat your favorites food, you play your favorite song, and you're just in a good mood."
Kassem grew up in Mexico and learned how to bake from her mom, and when she moved to New York to start a career in the fashion industry, she always made cakes for friends' birthdays and celebrations. "Everyone wanted to know where I bought my cake, and slowly I was like, 'Wait a minute, maybe this is what I should do for a living!'"
She launched her business on Instagram five years ago and opened her first brick and mortar store in SoHo in November 2017. (Fittingly, she spoke on a Play/Ground panel called Scrolling Your Way to Success.) "I didn't go to culinary school, I'd never worked in a kitchen, and I had no idea how to run my own business, but I wanted to wake up and play with sprinkles," Kassem said.
When she launched, she didn't even have a website, just an Instagram feed, but soon people took notice and she was acquiring major gigs and celebrity clients. "I was always doing rainbow cakes, and we still do custom cakes, whether it's a flamingo, a tequila bottle, a crayon: you dream it, we make it," Kassem said. "But I sold a lot of the six-layer rainbow cakes, and I thought back to my childhood in Mexico and piñatas — you hit it and the candy comes out. [That led to] the rainbow explosion cakes, which have been the really viral cake."
Kassem says her favorite project so far was creating a 64-foot edible hallway for the Brooklyn Museum Artists Ball, where "you can walk through a space and eat off the walls, and it's sort of that Willy Wonka 'the snozzberries taste like snozzberries' feeling."
Next up, Kassem plans to open an experiential store where you can decorate your own cake. But for now, fans can visit the SoHo location to "come in and see what the inside of my brain looks like: just rainbows, glitter, and candy." Scroll through to see some of Flour Shop's most delicious, innovative, and Instagrammable cakes.