For a crash-course on NattyKakes, the locally launched artisan event cake and THC bakery, dig into their eye-popping Instagram.
You’ll find images of beautiful cakes, decorated with sprays of flowers, macarons, gold foil, and, sometimes, full bottles of booze. There are cannabis-infused cookies, cupcakes, caramels, and brownies, freshly baked and topped with things like cheerful sprinkles, luscious frosting, and bright lime zest–Milk Bar wishes. There also are glam fashion shots of NattyKakes’ owner, Natasha Givens, adorable photos of her family, and lots of travel snapshots. If she added cute pet pics to the scroll? The site might explode.
But back to those cakes and cookies: Givens, an art director by profession, started making custom cakes about a decade ago just for fun.
“I was in the corporate world for 13 years, designing and art directing, and it was not creatively fulfilling for me at all,” she says. “So I had these hobby outlets and I would bake… It was a dream of mine to be able to leave the corporate world and own a little bakery one day.”
Around 2013, Givens began dabbling in THC baking, starting with an infused sugar cookie for Christmas. The decision to add THC edibles to her list of goods wasn’t made lightly, however; it was a project that was years in the making because she wanted to get it right.
“I personally believe in the magic and medicinal purposes of marijuana,” Givens explains. “I spent years studying the plant, concocting the perfect recipes for my infused butters and oils, and I just started putting it out there.”
NattyKakes’ fanbase quickly exploded online through word of mouth. “My whole customer base is referrals,” she says. When Givens got remarried in 2018, her husband encouraged her to quit her job and make that dream bakery a reality. So she did.
“I take orders literally every week. There’s a menu and I run seasonal specials like infused chocolate strawberries and pumpkin muffins. I can also infuse my cakes,” she explains. “For me it’s a one-man show. I am producing and packaging, and I have a background in marketing.”
Though Givens says she didn’t face many barriers in her baking career. But, as one of the few women-run–and possibly only Black-woman owned–THC businesses in town, she admits growing NattyKakes can still seem daunting.
“I know that the cannabis industry is run by mostly white males,” she says. “I am always advocating for more women in cannabis, and for more women to be heard in cannabis. Because it’s one thing to be, ‘Okay, sit me at the table.’ But you’re still not hearing me.”
Givens is ready to be heard.
“I can’t wait for that battle. I can’t wait ‘til I’m really at a table where there’s money involved and I can make substantial choices and decisions around my business,” she says. “I’m a first-generation American, my parents are from Trinidad and Tobago. So it’s even more special to be and sacred that I’m trying to make a splash, make a mark.”
You can place NattyKakes orders via Instagram, as well as at pop-ups events, including occasional THC sampler parties at Hook & Ladder. Like many local entrepreneurs, she’s enjoying Minnesota’s Wild West era of weed production.
“I had someone who works out in Cali in the cannabis industry–she does mostly corporate work–tell me that she visits the emerging [legalization] states because they have much more of a colorful landscape,” she says. “Hearing things like that always makes me feel better, because I feel like I can pave my way.”