Eat Cake, Be Happy
Cake Happy is located at 340 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas.
Hours are Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call 450-7691, visit the Cake Happy Facebook page or www.cake-happynw.squarespace.com.
Nikki O’Keeffe focuses on frosting a cupcake, paying close attention to the details. Occasionally, she and husband Jon will chat, but for the most part, she is focused on her craft.
All artists have canvases. For Nikki, co-owner of Cake Happy in downtown Camas, it is the sweet treats created for customers.
She has no formal training as a baker, but her elaborate cakes infused with intricate details and whimsy would suggest otherwise.
“I am not really sure where this comes from,” Nikki said, gesturing to a cake. “But when I began baking, I would wonder if I could do something, then just try to make it happen.”
She has always enjoyed baking, but after having her first child nearly 12 years ago, it became more elaborate.
“I got adventurous and began baking from scratch instead of using a mix,” Nikki said.
Her efforts doubled, literally, after the birth of twins in 2007.
“I have always felt a little drawn to baking as a way to relax, but after having three kids and being home with them a lot, I really wanted to learn to do even more from scratch,” Nikki recalled.
During the summer of 2009, while Jon was working two jobs, she began experimenting with cupcakes — tweaking recipes to make them her own.
“I baked my way through an entire Martha Stewart cupcakes book,” Nikki said. “And since you can only eat so many, Jon began taking them to share with coworkers at his jobs. People started asking if I could do custom baking for them.”
A business was born. Nikki began filling orders, but soon found her kitchen was too small for the requests that flooded in.
“Jon is a natural salesperson and saw the potential for what we could do together,” she said. “It took off from there.”
Jon, who has a background in sales and marketing, envisioned his wife as a custom baker.
“She is very talented and her work sparked a lot of interest with potential customers,” he said.
Nikki obtained a business license and began using a commercial kitchen. However, she still couldn’t keep up with the orders.
“It was either stop doing it, because we were having to turn people away, or just go for it and find a space to open our own place,” she said. “We weren’t really ready, but we decided to go for it.”
After searching the Vancouver area, the couple settled on Camas and opened Cake Happy two years ago.
“We had been to Camas before for different festivals and events, but we never realized what a little gem this town is,” Nikki said. “I love it down here.”
The couple, both 35, spend their days working together at their business. Nikki handles most of the decorating, while Jon makes coffee, assists with baking and greets customers.
“I love spending my days being creative,” Nikki said, while putting the finishing touches on chocolate cupcakes. “I have always been artistic, but never found anything I was really good at until this.”
Her favorite aspect of making custom cakes and cupcakes is putting the finishing touches on everything.
“I love anything whimsical and creating things with bright colors,” she said. “I also love creating a good quality pastry and seeing people’s expressions when it is finished.”
She would like to see the custom baking portion of their business grow, but when it takes 15 hours to create a cake, it can get overwhelming.
“Finding a way to grow is the challenge,” Nikki said. “This is hard to duplicate. I would love to create more wedding cakes, but we need to find a way to do it.”
However, if anyone can make it happen, it is likely the couple who started off with a just few homemade cupcake orders.
“We love working together in Camas and having this opportunity,” Nikki said. “We feel very blessed and are looking forward to what comes next.”