My name is Lindsey Gazel and I’m the owner/operator of LINDSEY BAKES, a custom baking company based in Toronto. I mostly do decorated cookies, but will pretty much do anything clients want. I’ve had my business for 7 years, and now share a space with Sam James Coffee Bar on Queen West. My past clients include, but aren’t limited to, Chanel, The Children’s Aid Foundation, Hermès, Cossette, JCREW, Saatchi & Saatchi, the Drake General Store, The Bay, Holt Renfrew, Benefit, ad agencies, media agencies, law firms, restaurants… you name it.
I grew up in Toronto. I had a hamster called Buster. I worked at a marina on the Toronto islands for years, and was never really sure what to do with my life. I knew I could never work in an office, but I didn’t know what I could feasibly make a living doing that I loved. I always loved baking, making up recipes, and trying to think outside the box, but I never enjoyed school, like, so I was a bit hesitant to try again at it.
But, as it turns out, school is a totally different experience when you go for something you’re really, truly interested in. I started working in every kind of bakery I could, while I was in school and after I graduated. Once I had enough side jobs of my own, I thought I could try running my own business . I knew I didn’t want to be a regular baker that just does cutesy frilly things, and I didn’t want to have a storefront bakery, which would inevitably create waste and excess. I just wanted to take orders, bake them and have them out the door to the client. Now I mostly do corporate baking jobs, but the creative stuff I get to do is what gives me life.
A cookie is just a really great way to simplify your message.
I would never call myself an artist by any means. But I’m pretty good at copying other people’s work, or at least bringing people’s work to a brand new platform. I first learned how to draw by copying my favourite newspaper cartoons or illustrations in books — especially Jean Jacques Sempé (I was a French school kid so read a lot of Le Petit Nicolas).
In a world full of “stuff”, whether it’s pop culture, fine art, politics, or just your day to day life, a perishable thing (like a cookie) doesn’t have to take up too much space. You either eat it, or share it, or toss it I guess, no matter what the message attached to it is. A cookie is just a really great way to simplify your message. I’m so blessed to work a job where I’m almost always involved in a happy occasion — clients are genuinely excited to see me because I am giving them treats or whatever. Imagine being a ticket cop? That’s dark.
I have definitely benefitted from sharing my space with Sam. He’s extremely generous, kind and funny, and has the most amazing staff and clients come through his doors. Many of them are artists, or are in the art world in some way, and I’ve really loved just getting to know them, and getting to work around them.
I live by the idea of KISS: keep it simple, stupid.
So far, the biggest experience for me hands down has been doing Vogue. It was bananas. I grew up coveting magazines, so it meant so much to me when they reached out. It still seems so surreal to have gotten on their radar as a silly baker, but I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many amazing and talented people and companies — I literally wouldn’t have a business without them.
While I was in college, one of the chefs told us that if we decided to run our own businesses, we should say “yes” to everything no matter what. I’ve always worked that way, and learned so much because I had to. I live by the idea of KISS (keep it simple, stupid), and guide my life through that lens. Because I’m always so busy, I try to eliminate a lot of little decisions that clog up my brain needlessly. I learned this from President Obama; I automate as much as possible, which means eating pretty much the same thing all the time and wearing my go-to uniform (grey top, black jeans, and sneakers). It saves so much time, and so much of my sanity.
To be honest, I’m a total 100% workaholic, and always have been, so my work/life balance may be horrifying to some people. I barely take any days off in a year, and I’m always thinking about it — but I really just love what I’m doing too much to stop.