BIZNOTE: Stuffed Cakes’ founder says she will close her shop in mid-summer

(WSB photo: Donna Lawson during her shop’s 1st-anniversary party in 2012)

One of West Seattle’s most beloved bakers has announced she will be shutting down her shop. Here’s what Stuffed Cakes proprietor Donna Lawson posted online today:

It’s hard for me to write this, but the time has come for me to make a big ol’ change in my life. When I started Stuffed Cakes in 2010, I was excited to start sharing my love of making deliciously creative cakes with more than just my friends and family. My first year of business was a steep learning curve, but I was able to take my tiny investment, build my customer base and open my first shop a year later – a lifelong dream come true.

I opened my shop a couple of blocks from my house, MY neighborhood, MY shop; a way to really be part of this wonderful West Seattle community I call home. The neighbors that pop in to my shop quickly became regulars that became friends I look forward to see annually, monthly, weekly, or sometimes even more often. I really couldn’t ask for better customers! We’ve laughed together, cried together, shared hugs, stories, and mostly just our lives while nibbling on tasty treats. I’ve watched babies grow into fantastic big kids, and teens grow up to be amazing young adults. I’ve made engagement cakes, wedding cakes, baby shower cakes, baby’s 1st birthday smash cakes, and birthday cakes from then on for families. We’ve made thousands of custom cupcakes for businesses like Google and Amazon, and even more for anyone walking in for that special treat. I have made cakes on national television and even for celebrities as big as Billy Joel! We’ve won award after award, and stood our ground against some of the best pastry chefs in town. We’ve been part of the best days of your life, and even part of your saddest times – and I’m beyond honored that you have counted on us and trusted us to be part of your big moments. I’ve caught myself tear up more than once, realizing I created exactly what I dreamt of – that little neighborhood shop that brings joy to others lives and creates memories that might even last a lifetime.

It’s time I take Stuffed Cakes in a different direction. Some of you know (and most of you don’t) that I suffer from Fibromyalgia and Arthritis – both of which do not do well with long days and body-taxing work. Unfortunately, Seattle is making it harder and harder for micro businesses to flourish. Business owners either end up taking on more and more work, or we have to expand into a kind of business model we don’t want. I need to re-prioritize: more time with family and friends; and most-importantly, more time taking care of my physical self.

What does this mean for Stuffed Cakes? Well, the honest answer is I’m not entirely sure. I know I want to teach and share my art with you. I will be growing my online presence – with videos, more photos on a regular basis and hopefully even in-person classes. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a book!

I’ve gone round and round, over all of my options, and I’ve decided it’s time to close my shop. This has been an incredibly hard decision to make – one I have not taken lightly. I have never been for lack of customers and for that I am truly grateful!

July 28th, 2018 will be Stuffed Cakes Grand Closing party! We had the MOST amazing, supportive Grand Opening in the fall of 2011, and now it’s time to go out with a BANG!, Mostly I just want to have a great time with all of you and give back to my community. More info to come…

So, if you need a cake, get your order in! The last date we’re taking custom orders for is Saturday, July 21st so we can focus on walk-in customers and prepare for our party on July 28th. Starting today there will be a $150 minimum order with a preference given to more elaborate cakes. Most of June is booking up quickly, we’ll be closed the week of 4th of July, and we’re only taking orders for Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from now on so don’t wait to place your order.

If you know anyone looking to buy a turn-key bakery/catering spot, please have them email for more information.

Thank you EVERYONE!

(Thanks to Sandy for the tip.)

24 Replies to "BIZNOTE: Stuffed Cakes' founder says she will close her shop in mid-summer"

  • HappyOnAlki May 20, 2018 (4:28 pm)

    Congratulations on a long, yummy run — your shop will be missed. And after reading this, I’d certainly vote for your sharing your fabulous expertise via the written word — you’re good at that too!

  • Greg May 20, 2018 (5:12 pm)

    Could you elaborate, Donna?

    >> Unfortunately, Seattle is making it harder and harder for micro businesses to flourish. Business owners either end up taking on more and more work, or we have to expand into a kind of business model we don’t want.

    • kittyno May 21, 2018 (6:32 am)

      Minimum wage hikes make it difficult to take on workers.  It hits small businesses the hardest.  (And more people compete for higher wages–so young people who need entry into the job market lose out to older more experienced prospects.)  And then there’s rent and property taxes.  Seattle is not good to its small businesses.

  • My two cents ... May 20, 2018 (5:41 pm)

    Sad news – but I’m glad to hear you have a good outlook and focus on things that you need to do for yourself.

    “Unfortunately, Seattle is making it harder and harder for micro businesses to flourish. Business owners either end up taking on more and more work, or we have to expand into a kind of business model we don’t want.” 


    • WS Guy May 20, 2018 (6:13 pm)

      She can’t afford to hire anybody. The Council is ruining this city.  I guess targeting businesses and landords must feel pretty good to Herbold and Sawant. 

      • Ki May 20, 2018 (8:56 pm)

        Nonsense. She called it a “micro business”. There is no way she’s making $20M in revenue year on year.

        Remember when the small businesses left when $15 min wage passed? Me neither. Now we have a booming restaurant industry.

        • Molly May 20, 2018 (9:58 pm)

          It’s not only the head tax that’s straining small businesses. The city increased our business license fee by over 100% this year. The place I work could handle that, thankfully, but I’m not sure most could.

          • sources May 20, 2018 (10:43 pm)

            Must be a big business.  If taxable revenue is between half a million and 2 million the fee is only $500.  It also scales down such that for many businesses it’s only a hundred bucks a year.

            Two million and up, yeah, the fee goes up, but, like you said, businesses like that can handle it–and I wouldn’t exactly call them small at that point.

          • West Seattle since 1979 May 21, 2018 (4:36 am)

            Rising rent costs might be a problem too. 

        • kittyno May 21, 2018 (6:36 am)

          The restaurants that are booming are owned by people who are established in the restaurant community and have experience.  If you’re small, new, and/or trying to break in, it’s really difficult.  She’s right–you either need to grow big enough that you can afford bigger wages for employees, benefits, and rent increases; or you need to do it all yourself–which usually isn’t feasible.  Keeping a small intimate retail or service business is becoming very, very difficult.

  • West Seattle Hipster May 20, 2018 (6:02 pm)

    This is really a shame.  Expect more and more of the small businesses we love to follow suit, due to our current political climate.

    • sources May 20, 2018 (9:15 pm)

      Why?  What did the political climate do to her business that caused her to shutter?  

      I’m listening. 

      • WS BIZ Source May 21, 2018 (12:43 am)

        Let’s see…there are the ever increases to the B&O tax, Sweetened beverage tax, Minimum wage increases, property tax increases, rent increases, business license cost increases, utility increases, Secured Scheduling ordinances, ST3 taxes(especially if your vehicle is licensed through your business), and don’t forget…premiering 2019…the Seattle Head Tax.

        If you think none of these things have an effect on small business, you are sadly mistaken. Yes many of the small businesses are under the stated thresholds that many of these new or upcoming taxes target, but who do you think the small businesses have to buy from. Most large vendors and distributors are effected by the new/upcoming regulations. Do you think they will just absorb the increases, especially on narrow profit margins? No, they will pass it along to the small business owners, who will either have to absorb it, or once again, raise prices. When do you feel the breaking point is when consumers say no to all of the price increases at restaurants and retailers? Many businesses have to weigh those decisions each and every day, many of who struggle to make ends meet themselves.

        So before passing judgement on many of the businesses, either speaking out against the current situation or falling victim to the ever increasing load, make sure you fully understand all the effects.

      • ddem1467 May 22, 2018 (7:24 am)

        Sources, I want to ask you one question: Do you own and operate a business or is what you are saying coming from a he said – she said knowledge. “My friend owns a business” does not qualify for your inability to understand the difference between revenue and profit. 

  • kravitz May 20, 2018 (8:33 pm)

    Dang. What a thoughtful and heartfelt letter. It’s sad to see that even successful businesses are struggling to keep up and maintain some sort of work/life balance in our ever-changing and costly city. As an artist, I too go round and round about whether or not to stay and struggle or move on and not look back. It’s been eating away at me for over a year, and just knowing that Donna has made a decision for herself helps me come to terms to make mine as well. Best of luck to you Donna, and thanks for the empowerment.

    • Jonathan Carl Dreher May 20, 2018 (10:00 pm)

      She’s got arthritis…

      The city isn’t making it too expensive.

  • MJ May 20, 2018 (10:53 pm)


    For one the City just increased the B and O tax on businesses.

    And maintaining the tax paperwork they foist takes time, two.

    And for a bakery type business hiring help got more expensive, three.

    Too many people think its easy to operate a business, then try it!  Plan on 80+ hour work weeks when you first start out.

    I wish Donna the best in her future endeavours.


  • Dub Sea CG May 20, 2018 (10:53 pm)

    Oh this makes me sad. Donna, your amazing cupcakes were (sorry for the pun) icing on the cake at my dad’s surprise 80th birthday party. Your gluten free mini cakes have been such a treat for me and my kiddo. I’m on your mailing list so I hope to follow what you do next. You have many talents and I look forward to what you do next and pray it’s healthy for your body too. 

  • Jenny May 21, 2018 (12:00 am)

    Wow, so sorry to hear this. You are a West Seattle landmark and we are sorry to see you go, but understand health and family should always come first.  Looking forward to hearing about future endeavours. Your personality and talent will shine on any platform you move forward on.  Best of luck!! 

  • Jeannie May 21, 2018 (12:48 am)

    We love you, Donna! When you first opened, I entered to win a gift certificate – and I won! You created a gorgeous and delicious chocolate cake topped with a replica of my beloved little parrot (actual size, accurate colors, etc.). It was perfection! The cake is long gone, but I still have the parrot replica. 

    We’ll miss you and we wish you the best.

  • H May 21, 2018 (9:09 am)

    You will be missed. Your cupcakes are absolutely the best cake and frosting I have ever had. And the deliciousness was consistent no matter the flavor. I always felt fortunate to be able to walk out of your shop with a box full of deliciousness. Thank you for everything ❤️

  • Sandy Adams May 21, 2018 (4:08 pm)

    I wholeheartedly agree  that Stuffed Cakes will be missed for the amazing cakes and cupcakes–both in flavor and design.  But let’s not forget how wonderful Donna has been at supporting West Seattle non-profits!  She has donated hundreds and hundreds of cupcakes and cakes to organizations like ArtsWest, Helpline, WS Food Bank and more.  She will long be remembered for her philanthropic heart and soul!   Thank you, Donna, and we are wishing you the very best in your next venture :)

  • gh May 22, 2018 (6:35 am)

    Of course Seattle is anti-business; anyone who thinks otherwise has their head in the leftist ideology sand. 

  • Bianca Harding May 22, 2018 (5:15 pm)

    If you are blaming minimum wage, l am glad l never gave you my business. I could never afford your prices anyway

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