For Imagicakes Bakery Cafe owner Damon Nasir, the best part of his job is the look on a customer’s face when he brings them a cake design he never thought he could create and that he brings her the cake of her dreams.
Imagicakes is a bakery and cafe that specializes in creating bespoke cakes, taking customers’ cake dreams and turning them into edible realities. According to Nasir, the cafe’s slogan is “If you can imagine it, we can brew it”.
Examples of cake designs Nasir said he is proud to create include a Porsche model cake made for Porsche USA and a World Series trophy cake he made for Philadelphia-based rapper Meek Mill after the win. from the Phillies to the World Series in 2008.
Surprisingly, Nasir spent most of his early career working as a bill collector, an experience he described as “soul stealing, soul destroying”. After 16 years in this field, he had an epiphany and decided to embark on a new field that he had always loved: food.
Once Nasir decided to get into the culinary field, he started by opening a popsicle business based out of his home in West Philadelphia. The success of this venture eventually led to a contract with the Philadelphia Zoo, where he worked as a funnel cake salesman and began laying down the pieces of the puzzle that would eventually fit together in the Imagicakes image.
It was during this time that Nasir also started a catering business that would eventually outlive his time as a vendor at the zoo. Nasir then spent years building his online restaurant business, Mr. D’s Sweets and Eats, until eventually, as the field became increasingly competitive, he began to focus on the food aspect. his company that seemed to attract the most attention. . It was the personalized cakes.
“It was just the number of cake orders we were getting. It just got to a point where it was like, ‘Hey, it’s just a matter of time.’ It really became a matter of time. The cakes really started to get a lot more attention and the marketing dollars. … Also the cakes allowed me to have some variation, allowed me to creative and really invested in it. I’ve found that I’m really more productive when I feel invested, when I’m excited about what I’m doing, when I enjoy it.
After this epiphany, Nasir focused on personalized cakes; creating Imagicakes and starting to invest more and more in the company. Nasir said that although he had no formal education in cake making, he was able to teach himself “hours and hours of watching cake shows and trial and error and trying things and thinking they look easier than they are and realizing it’s harder than they look.
“My first initial career choice when I was a kid was, I was going to be an architect. you can buy anywhere and turn them into something that makes people say, “Oh, that’s amazing. I love it. I love the structure of it. I love that I can just showcase the artistry.” It was just a natural calling for me, honestly.
“Once I started making it, the first cake I made was for my kids. I had four kids, so the first cakes I made were at my house for my kids. loved it and I kept doing it and I kept doing it until I got better and better because I wasn’t necessarily going to school for it. It was purely self-taught. And I’d love to take full responsibility, but I can’t, because I have to give it to those guys I watched on TV.
At the end of the day, Nasir said he hopes Imagicakes can be a generational business. His wife and daughters currently work at the bakery and Nasir said his plan moving forward is to open more physical locations and eventually pass them on to his children.
According to Nasir, it was always about putting down roots, which is why he made sure to keep the shop firmly rooted in West Philadelphia.
“I absolutely wanted to set up the store as close to my home as possible. I wanted to stay in West Philly because I’m from West Philly. In fact, I grew up within 50 feet of the store’s front doors. Now my mom still lives there, and I actually live four doors down the street from her. I am therefore quite invested in the region.
“I see the changes happening throughout the area with the people who live there, the new residents, and I can’t wait to be a part of it and… see West Philadelphia grow. … It’s good to try to be a face that residents can recognize as someone who looks like them and recognize us as, ‘Hey, these are the guys. We go to school with these guys. Recognize that there is another option apart from a lot of violence and nonsense going on there. So we try to be sort of a benchmark.