Amirah Kassem, Founder, Flour Shop

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“My mom is Mexican and my dad is Arab. So I'm from Mexico, but I have an Arabic name— it means ‘princess.' In Mexico, you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home every day. We’re always cooking. It’s not like in the US where people are like, ‘Oh my God, you can cook?’ [Laughs] I didn’t think of it as such a big deal or a rare skill; it was just something I grew up doing.

I moved to the US to study and work in fashion. I was assisting all of these great, creative people—which I found very exciting—but I never felt like, ‘This is the job I want.’ It just wasn’t for me, I guess. I moved around a lot, and every time I left a job I would bake something for my boss. People would be like, ‘Where did you buy this?’ and I would say, ‘Wait, you think I bought that?’

So when my friend César Vega opened a coffee shop in SoHo, I started selling these really delicious cake ball truffles there under the name Flour Shop. Very quickly I got a lot of demand out of this little thing, and realized that maybe this was something I should try full-time. It felt strange and really scary, because it was the first job that I was creating on my own—it was a huge risk. But it felt right. I reached out to all of the people I knew from my old fashion jobs to find out who had a birthday coming up and what events were happening. And I baked these made-to-order cakes that looked like anything a client wanted—flamingos, dinosaurs, cheeseburgers, lo mein… Word got around really quickly because the industry is so small. I just became the cake girl! [Laughs] I didn’t invent cakes or anything, but I just had the right network and was ready to make a lot of fun things. I love to play with sprinkles, colors, and decoration, but everything’s always edible—I never use fondant.

As much as I love color in my cakes, I don’t really ever wear makeup. My friends all make fun of me, but I don’t even own concealer! And the only thing that I carry around with me is Chapstick. Sometimes if I’m feeling extremely crazy I will wear lipstick. I have a bright pink one that I bought one time for a Mad Hatter costume. I don’t even know what the brand is, I got it at a Halloween store. [Laughs] Even when I do shoots for magazines, I just end up putting sprinkles on my face instead of actual makeup.

My everyday routine is pretty simple—just face lotion and perfume. I wash my face with Kiehl’s, then moisturize with their Ultra Facial Moisturizer. And then it's Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom and Honey Cologne. I’m really loyal to those two brands. But if I’m feeling sexy, I like to wear Tom Ford Musk Pure Perfume. It kind of smells like you’re naked.

For my hair I use Bumble and bumble BB Curl Conscious Shampoo and Conditioner. I have such curly hair; the more I brush it, the bigger it gets, so I just let it air dry.

I love Essie. I've been working with them for quite a bit, making these little cakes that look like nail polish bottles. My favorite is Sugar Daddy because it's clean and simple enough to wear every day.

For me, shoes are where the color comes in. My shoe shelf is more colorful than my sprinkle shelf and has every texture from hairy to shiny, rhinestones to stripes. I love Chloé, Céline, Church's, Vans, and Adidas collaborations with brands like Opening Ceremony and Jeremy Scott. Then there are the heels—ACNE, Fendi, YSL, Gucci, Dior. I can’t talk makeup, but I could talk shoes all day."

—as told to ITG

Amirah Kassem photographed by Frances Denny on August 10, 2013 in New York. See Frances' other work here.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I love that open shelving! I also like her skateboards on the wall!
    http://www.clevergirlreviews.com

  • Kerry Lee

    love it when somebody's creativity and passion comes across the post! she sounds like a fun and lovely lady :) the bit about fondant is so true...it's my major cake turn off.

  • Georgina

    I wish you could actually see her face better in the picture.

  • Sarahs

    I love creative and smart women. Bravo, Amirah. I really enjoyed reading your Top Shelf. Thanks, ITG!

  • http://loveloosh.com/ Elizabeth Allora

    What a great story she has. I love it when everything seems to fall into place for someone.
    loveloosh.com

  • hollygoeslightly22

    "The face" and yet, no make up? Chapstick? Okay.

    • corina

      Well.. It is not a top shelf.. Doesn't mean she doesn't have a face! I liked the article. She seems really genuine. I think she's pretty and I love her beautiful curly hair! Also really fun that she loves shoes.

  • caliclean

    loved this, totally refreshing and different.

  • Holly

    This is such a contrived post. Nobody in the US can cook? Refusing to use fondant but loving artificial colors? Oy.

  • Leetoki

    "I didn't invent cakes, I just had the right networks"
    THANK YOU. A gorgeous girl who has acknowledged an important part of getting a business off the ground without pretending thats not what it is. Beautiful. All the best to her, and those truffle balls sound amazing!

  • s

    was i the only one praying for a photo of her shoe closet?

    • corina

      yes! we want to see shoes!

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

ChapStick
ChapStick Medicated Skin Protectant External Analgesic Lip Balm
Kiehl's Since 1851
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser
Kiehl's Since 1851
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30
Jo Malone London
Jo Malone 'Nectarine Blossom & Honey' Cologne
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Curl Conscious Smoothing Shampoo
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Curl Conscious Smoothing Conditioner
essie
Essie Nail Polish, Sugar Daddy
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