Bakers serve up tragic treats to fight depression

SEATTLE -- Life isn't always pretty, and this weekend the cakes won't be either. Local pastry aficionados will swap out their brightly-colored frostings Saturday for gray frosting and black sprinkles to raise awareness about mental health at the "Depressed Cake Shop."

Starting in London in August, the Depressed Cake Shop has become an international movement in which bakers sell tasty treats in pop-up shops and donate the proceeds to organizations supporting the mentally-ill.

Baked goods at the Depressed Cake Shop are always gray or black to represent the feelings associated with depression and mental illness. But, inside many of these treats are brightly colored goodies like rainbow cake or candies to symbolize hope.

"Cake is a great way to get people discussing traditionally tough conversational topics," founder Emma Cakehead said. "It's about challenging stigmas and labels. When someone says 'cupcake' you think pink icing and sprinkles. When someone says 'mental-health issues' an equally unimaginative stereotype will pop in most minds. By having grey cakes we're challenging the expected, and getting people to challenge the labels they put on those who suffer with a mental illness."

Since the concept started just a few months ago, Depressed Bake Shops have been held all over the United Kingdom, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, India, Australian and Malaysia.

Now, the idea has spread across the pond to Seattle, and The Sole Repair Shop on Capitol Hill will host our city's first Depressed Cake Shop from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday.

Volunteers will be selling local art, coffee and, of course, a variety of gray treats. Proceeds will be donated to the Seattle chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

Knowing one in four people suffer from mental illness, local organizer Melissa Riddington felt it was important to bring the project to Seattle.

"I thought the whole project was so unique and very creative," she said. "I thought it would resonate well in Seattle."