Jordan Rondel has called out “bigger entities who stomp on” small businesses and “always walk out with more”.
The Kiwi baker behind The Caker has spoken out after Chrissy Teigen unveiled her new Cravings baking kits with striking similarities to those made by the smaller sister-run business.
It came just weeks after Rondel and Teigen worked together to release a Spiced Carrot with Salted Caramel cake kit, a collaboration sparked after the supermodel shouted out The Caker on Instagram.
While Rondel knew Cravings had their own line of baking mixes in the works, she didn’t know what it would look like - and was “taken aback” by the similarity of the designs.
“My first thought was, they obviously have a huge team behind them, all the resources at their fingertips, and to me it seemed like lazy design,” she tells the Herald.
“With all their money and all their help, which I just don’t have, I think it would have taken the smallest amount of extra effort to make it look a bit different.”
Rondel, who runs The Caker with her sister Anouk, first heard about the new line when she was working on the collaboration with Teigen a few months ago, which she was “super excited about” at the time.
But then an email from the Cravings team revealed they’d had “a change in their business structure” and would be calling off the collaboration because they were about to release their own cake mixes - including a carrot cake.
“That’s what we had an issue with,” Rondel notes.
“We were like, okay, we’d invested all this time and energy into our collab, so we were a bit taken aback.”
Rondel says she and Anouk decided not to do anything “too dramatic” by getting lawyers involved, instead choosing to email Teigen herself.
“We just said hey, this isn’t cool and we’ve already invested so much into this, can we please keep going.”
Teigen agreed. They worked out a launch plan together and produced a styled shoot featuring Rondel and Teigen posing in bathrobes and jewellery with the carrot cake. After its release, the kit quickly sold out.
Rondel notes that the Cravings line no longer includes cakes, instead featuring recipes for other baked goods, including banana bread, buttermilk mochi pancake & waffle mix, and salted white chocolate macadamia cookie mix.
“They at least changed the recipes and they are vastly different. Ours have taken me like seven years to create and I’ve sourced and handpicked products from all over the world to make sure it’s the best quality product I can bring out. Whereas theirs, you know ... they’re of a different calibre.”
Rondel is hesitant to call out Teigen personally, though the model has been accused of bullying others in the past.
She says the mum of two was “really sweet to work with ... like a normal human being” throughout the process and imagines there is a “bit of a disconnect” between Teigen and her Cravings team.
“I didn’t really deal with her at all throughout proceedings, it was really with Cravings. I’m trying not to use Chrissy’s name too much. I’m not trying to create a witch hunt, that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to do.”
“What Cravings did to The Caker is one thing, but the bigger story, and what I tried to get across in my post, was really not attacking one particular celebrity for copying a small brand - I don’t want to use the word ‘copying’ - but that it’s quite easy and we see it all too often where a bigger entity can stomp on the smaller entity. They take inspiration and take things along the way and always walk out with more.”
Rondel reveals a lot of people even thought she was involved in the new Cravings line because of the similarities to her products.
“And if I wasn’t, that I would at least be getting royalties or something from it and that’s just not the case at all,” she laughs.
Rondel hasn’t been in touch with Teigen or the Cravings team and says she won’t “instigate that”.
“I don’t know what there would really be to achieve from my end. I’m not looking for compensation. It happened and the support has been all I needed, really, to get through.”
While the Spiced Carrot and Salted Caramel Cake is still listed on The Caker’s website, the listing no longer makes mention of Teigen or the Cravings brand - although the Cravings logo is still visible in photos.
“When we heard that they were doing their own line and our collab would only be launched for one month, we really wanted to make sure we had the rights to the recipe after one month. So that was one thing we did right, and it’s back to being our product now, which is awesome. It’s no longer in collaboration with Cravings,” Rondel points out.
“I would have loved to just continue on with it, but one month just wasn’t going to do much.”
Rondel wants people to know “things aren’t always what they seem from the outside” and hopes others can learn from her experience.
“Maybe people look at this like, ‘oh, but she got to work with a huge celebrity and she should be really grateful for all that exposure’, and it’s just like, yes, I was. I was super excited about this, I put so much work into it and I was really excited for the outcome, and it’s just not always what it seems.”