The Depressed Cake Shop, an event aimed to raise awareness, destigmatize and continue the conversation about mental illness, will take place on Oct. 8 from 12 to 4 p.m. at Optimism Brewing Company. Sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, the Depressed Cake Shop will be the nonprofit’s main event for National Mental Health Awareness week.
Beginning in 2013 in the United Kingdom, creator Emma Thomas devised a way to spread awareness of mental illness and through decorated cakes. These cakes “had to be gray, but could have a pop of color to symbolize hope,” as stated in the organization’s mission. Since its first flagship Cake Shop in the UK, Depressed Cake Shop has grown to a global scale.
“We know that 1 in 5 people are affected by a mental health condition,” said Marisa Way-Rogainis, the development coordinator for NAMI’s Seattle branch. “Our aim is to not only raise awareness of NAMI as a resource for people in Seattle, but to also just get the conversation going.”
Participation in the event is simple. Attendees just need to show up ready to try some tasty, locally made treats. When people come in, we’ll have a couple of greeters…then there will be a bunch of people with the baked goods…and we’ll have volunteers helping people get whatever baked goods they want,” Way-Rogainis said. “And we’re going to have an information table, with information about NAMI programs as well as other mental health resources.”
There will also be a raffle and opportunities to buy tickets and win prizes.
“I really like the attitude and importance given to mental health awareness,” said Seattle U student Roisín Slevin. “And the promise of very cute cakes in a friendly environment.”
All baked goods at the Depressed Cake Shop are to be donated by local Seattle bakers who agreed to submit their creations to support NAMI. Since there is a limited supply of baked goods, it is advised by Optimism Brewery owner and co-founder, Gay Gilmore, that all those interested arrive early.
Optimism Brewery was selected to host this event for its large space and support of local non-profits.
“We’re celebrating optimists wherever we find them, and those are largely nonprofits, those are the groups that are out really doing the hard work and believing in themselves and their causes,” Gilmore said. “We really support those guys. And so we wanted to use our space and our beer to help them.”
The brewery will be open during the event, so all those who are over 21 are welcome to try one of the 20 beers currently on tap. However, this isn’t your typical microbrewery.
“We don’t talk about beer style names because they’re kind of intimidating to some people,” Gilmore said. “We pay our workers living wage…and we are a tip-free establishment because we don’t like what tipping represents.”
Optimism works to create positive and supportive environments for nonprofits, big and small. “Nonprofits can have events here for free all the time, we do a lot of donating…it just so happens we have that affinity for mental illness,” Gilmore said.
All funds donated at the event will go to NAMI for their general operating budget. Given the organization’s small size, with only three staff members and one Americorp member, money received goes into their programming fees and general operational fees.
Depressed Cake Shop Organization believes, “Where there is cake, there is hope…and there is always cake.”
Madeline may be reached at