What is the origin of the Depressed Cake Shop™?

In the summer of 2013, Emma Thomas, a creative director and p.r. specialist in the United Kingdom, conceived a project called the Depressed Cake Shop™. One in four people will suffer from mental health issues at some point in their lives. The Depressed Cake Shop™ was created as a unique (and delicious) platform to raise awareness and discuss these issues while raising money for local mental health charities.

Emma’s brief was very specific — the cakes had to be gray, but could have a pop of color to symbolize hope. Her astute intuition was that this would ensure that the concept stood out from the countless charity fundraisers that take place each year.

It was very successful and garnered attention throughout the United Kingdom. It also created an active community of bakers and organizers who joined a Facebook group and were inspired to create pop-ups of their own.

Then, something magical happened. The concept did not end with that first pop-up, the bakers and organizers kept going. Shops popped up in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Glasgow, Houston, Seattle, Kuala Lumpur, Atlanta, Australia and India (just to name a few).

Many of the cakes were designed and donated by bakers who had personal experience with depression, and they used their creations to express their struggles with and experiences of their illnesses. Others were compelled to join because they had seen friends and family members suffering and wanted to be part of a solution. The committed co-conspirators who have kept the Depressed Cake Shop™ movement alive are continually looking for new opportunities to change the conversation around mental health one gray cake at a time.

What does involvement entail?

Anyone can pop up a Depressed Cake Shop™.  Some of the shops have been organized by hobby bakers, some by professional bakers, and some by charities who use our branded bake sale idea to raise funds themselves.

Once a baker becomes involved with the Depressed Cake Shop™ there is only one requirement, that the baked goods you donate have an element of gray to signify the gray cloud that can descend over a beautiful world when someone is struggling with mental health issues.

We welcome any type of donated baked good, and our shops have become a wonderful and curated collection ranging from professional bakers with store fronts, to licensed home bakers, to people who bake as a hobby and just want to be involved.

We ask that you avoid using nuts as so many people are seriously allergic to them. Other than that, you can make a cake to be sold in its entirety or by the slice, cake pops, cupcakes, or cookies. Some people have made custom marshmallows, ‘misfortune cookies,’ pies, chocolate covered Oreos. The only limit is your imagination.

It is also very helpful if you provide us with a list of ingredients, the type and flavor of your item and also, a fun name if you can think of one. We welcome vegan and gluten free items as well. Our customers often request them and it is great to be able to offer that option.

Ok, I am intrigued. Now what do I do?

If you would like to pop up a shop in your town, click on “how to pop-up” to access our toolkit!

If you are interested in getting involved in a shop that has already been announced, email the organizer or info@depressedcakeshop.com to get in touch and register your interest.

Where does the money raised go?

All money raised from the sale of your baked goods goes directly to the charity that has been chosen for the event. We do not collect any money through this site. The local organizers collect the money and donate it directly to the charity they have chosen. Your donations will tax deductible as the money raised will go to a local charity. You can ask that they give you documentation for your tax return.

This site is for information purposes only. It is privately funded (see note below).

 What is DCS's relationship with Sweatpants & Coffee's Anxiety Blob™?

The Anxiety Blob™ is a registered trademarked item of Sweatpants & Coffee™. From time to time Depressed Cake Shop™ sells limited edition gray plush Anxiety Blobs™.  S&C  has also agreed to allow individuals to create Anxiety Blob™ inspired baked goods as long as they are sold in a Depressed Cake Shop™ with the express purpose of fundraising for a recognized charity working in the mental health space. All other uses of the Anxiety Blob™ are prohibited.

Is there anything else I should know?

We are very active on social media, particularly Facebook. That is a great place to keep updated on our activities and to read things that we curate that are interesting in the world of baking and mental health.

We hope this page is helpful. If you have more questions please email info@depressedcakeshop.com and we will be happy to engage with you directly.

A note from Val


My name is Val and I run this website and the DCS social media pages.  If you read below you will see that the Depressed Cake Shop was the brainchild of Emma Thomas.  My involvement came when I decided to pop up a shop in Los Angeles to raise money for NAMI.  I am a movie marketer in my "real life," but I had gotten a very close look at the challenges faced by people suffering with severe mental health difficulties when my father had a psychotic nervous breakdown after my mother's death.  My sisters and I got a crash course in the journey a patient and their family go through, and I wanted to do something to help other families who may be having the same experience.  

I was hooked after that first shop.  I loved everything about it, meeting the bakers, seeing the beautiful work they donated from their hearts, the way the simple act of creating something for the shop broke something loose in them.  The most moving experiences were meeting people like Angela who had been following the Facebook page and arrived at one of our shops a few years after that first pop up with boxes and boxes of the most beautiful cookies.  She had suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide and this project did a small part to help her with the healing process.  

There are dozens and dozens of stories l have witnessed since the day in August, 2013 when Rebecca and I opened that first Los Angeles shop in a skateboard gallery to a waiting crowd.

I have traveled to places like Pittsburgh, PA, Thanet, England, and Boston, MS to attend or organize pop up shops that support local charities, and have been blessed to be part of a pop up in my hometown of Orange County, CA thanks to the talents of Melissa Larob of KML Events.

We are very proud to have popped up with www.ThisisMyBrave.org three times, raising money for them to support the important act of sharing stories of struggle and triumph so others won't feel so alone.

Depressed Cake Shop will celebrate its six year anniversary this summer. We keep this site updated so that anyone can pop up a shop in the same way Rebecca and I (as well as people we now call friends like Jane, Melissa Shannan, Julie, Liz, Angie and Rachael -- just to name a few) did.  All of us became inspired, found a charity, contacted some bakers, printed some stickers and popped up a Depressed Cake Shop.

You can do it, and your life will be richer because of it!!!  Please free to email us at info@depressedcakeshop.com if you are going to be popping up a shop yourself or if you have any questions at all.  We hope you do.  It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.