Luxury, at its core, is entirely perception.
Lobster was once served exclusively in jails and oysters were shunned by all but the poorest class. Fast forward a hundred years and lobster and oysters are among the most revered delicacies for the upper crust. Now Jordan Rondel, also known as The Caker, is working to elevate the oft-disparaged box cake mix into the realm of fine dining.
“Our fresh cakes are our couture and the cake mixes are ready-to-wear,” Rondel says. “With any brand that has an expensive, harder to access sector, you need the ready-to-wear to actually make any money. We wanted to serve more people than we could with the fresh cakes and I knew it was something I could expand overseas. There’s also the whole gifting aspect and I wanted to create something that could almost be like a bottle of wine.”
Rondel’s mixed cakes have become one of The Caker brand’s staples, allowing her to expand her business to both Auckland and Los Angeles. You’re able to see influences of both cities in her cakes, as well as Paris, where her love for baking was born. “New Zealand is a really beautiful place to grow up, but I would go to see my dad’s parents in Paris for summer holidays,” Rondel says. “It was through them that I discovered the absolute joy of putting ingredients together and creating something that inevitably was going to be so delicious. There’s something about sharing it with people as well, I think I’m addicted to that kind of sentiment.”
Her love for baking continued to grow as she got older and when she turned 21, she decided to turn it into a blog—giving rise to The Caker. This was back in the heyday of blogs and Rondel’s talents, paired with the tools she’d picked up in business school, yielded a burgeoning bakery in Auckland.
About five years in, Rondel had her sister by her side and a recipe book on shelves and the cakery was running itself, allowing her to put her focus into cake mixes and set her sights on Los Angeles. It took nearly three years for them to get to Los Angeles, as it’s one of the most difficult cities in the world to open a bakery and it’s no cheap endeavor. Then, as fate would have it, the pandemic hit, forcing Rondel to scuttle those plans.
“It was a huge blessing in disguise,” Rondel says. “I’m really glad we didn’t do the bakery because it took 10 years to get the Auckland location to where it is today. We at least had the cake mixes underway, so we found a manufacturer and decided to focus on that.”
Rondel’s business has taken some unexpected turns, but everything has worked out the way it was meant to be. Her cake mixes are booming, she has an upcoming collaboration with Chrissy Teigen coming out at the end of this year, and she still has plans to open another location. She found a place where she won’t have to jump through any bureaucratic hoops or pay exorbitant rent—the Metaverse.
“It’s really just in its inception phase at the moment,” Rondel says. “I know this is the next thing to do and I know nothing about it whatsoever. In short, the concept behind Meta bakery is an online bakery where you can go design a custom cake by dragging and dropping. You can create, like, a thousand-tier cake or something else that you can’t do in real life. It will also be immortalized in the blockchain, which is different from a normal cake because once you eat it, it’s gone.”
The Metaverse isn’t the only way Rondel has immortalized her caking skills. On occasion, she’s traded in her icing spatula for a tattoo machine. And while she isn’t going to be quitting her day job, tattooing could definitely become a lucrative side hustle. “I don’t have any baking tattoos myself, but I’ve tattooed some baking-inspired tattoos on other people,” Rondel says. “A friend of mine has a collection of tattoos from all of her friends and I tattooed a slice of cake on her. She guided me and she thought it was pretty good [laughs].”
Life may not be a cake walk, but Jordan Rondel has certainly experienced the sweet smell of success. She’s indulged the sweet tooths of dessert fiends the world over and has her eyes on the prize, as well as the pies. And somehow, she’s managed to make cake mixes sell like hot cakes.