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  • Gabriella Favilli-Vigoreaux

Big Love Bake Sale

When pondering the grassroots potential of the bake sale, it’s hard not to think of Georgia Gilmore, the woman who fed and funded the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Gilmore formed The Club From Nowhere, a secret civil rights kitchen where she sold pies and pound cakes to raise funds for the 381-day resistance. It’s also hard to not think of Paola Velez, the DC chef who co-founded Bakers Against Racism, a massive bake sale movement that began as a pop-up in 2020 and has raised over 2.5 million dollars for social justice causes worldwide. Bake sales are nostalgic, collaborative by design, cheap to produce, and, as proven by Gilmore and Velez, can be true conduits for social change. This is what inspired us to start the Big Love Bake Sale.

With minimal fundraising experience, we figured the best place to start was by choosing a cause that was timely and personal to us, ideally in our own neighborhood. With Pride month upon us, we are reminded of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. We are reminded that it was the drag community and trans people of color who led the rebellion that spawned the Gay Rights Movement. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a major rise in anti-drag legislation in our home state. We’ve seen how this has caused a surge in transphobia and opened more doors for harassment and hateful speech against the LGBTQ+ community. It’s tough to ignore in general, but especially as a Queer-owned business operating in a state where things like that are happening. 

Gio and I started our pop-up bakery, Bandidas, a couple years ago and it’s been a rollercoaster to say the least. Food trends come and go, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our mantra of “community as a compass.” How can we create a safe space for the Queer community without a physical location to call our own? For us, the answer is to hold more events like Big Love Bake Sale where we can raise awareness, drive donations and share valuable information.

With the safety and livelihood of the drag community at stake, it seemed like a no-brainer to choose The Rose Dynasty Foundation as the organization we wanted to benefit from with the bake sale. Not only do they provide mentoring for LGBTQ+ youth, but they are committed to creating safe spaces for our Queer community, all while spreading their positive mantra that everyone is “loved, accepted and wanted.” They work nonstop to raise funds for numerous organizations like the Polk County Bully Project and The Rent Tent Initiative, by producing family-friendly drag and variety shows, proving that drag can be, and IS, safe for people of all ages. 

Once we chose an organization, our next step was to secure the dough, quite literally. We emailed and reached out to a bunch of local bakers and businesses on Instagram for pastry donations. Our ask was 25 to 50 pastries, whatever they felt comfortable with. An overwhelming majority agreed to participate, and it was really heartening to see how the cause resonated with so many people. It was important to us that we included a mix of bakers and businesses we knew, as well as some new friends we’d been pining to work with. Some have a brick-and-mortar; most are pop-ups, and a few are avid home-bakers who are passionate about the cause. A huge driving force behind the bake sale was our desire to meet other people in our industry and collaborate with them on something meaningful. Many of us operate as pop-ups, and it’s rare that we get the chance to participate in the same markets, since most of them have quotas for how many pastry vendors can participate in a single event. 

Our goal is to make the Big Love Bake Sale a regular occurrence and to get it down to a science so we can replicate it to raise funds for other local organizations that matter to us. Creating community around food is our love language and sometimes that message gets lost in the chaos of running a small food business. Many fundraisers are centered around fancy galas or benefit dinners, which are great, but we wanted something small scale and accessible to everyone in the community. You can come to our bake sale with five dollars and walk away with something delicious, knowing you supported an amazing cause. 

What can you expect to eat at the bake sale? To name a few: Pinoy Cravings will be serving up their signature Filipino bibingka, a chewy coconut rice cake. Winter Haven’s Honeycomb bakery will be providing classic croissants and pain au chocolate and Lakeland’s Born + Bread Bakehouse will have “Love Is Love” twice-baked croissants stuffed with cake batter frangipane and rainbow sprinkles. Citrus lovers will swoon for the mojito and key lime pie cupcakes by From Beverly Bakery (the latter is GF and vegan!). Vegetation Plant Food, who recently opened their brick-and-mortar in Lakeland, will also be serving vegan delights. DOU Bakehouse will be bringing their financier cake pops (that’s an almond and brown butter cake dipped in chocolate!) and Baking Brewer will be on site with her beloved beer-infused triple chocolate brownies. Beyond baked goods, there will also be some fun beverages from Lakeland pop-ups Glizzy Gal and La Sirena who will be serving vegan cold brew creations and agua frescas, respectively. There will be ice cream and popsicles from Purple Panda to cool down on what will surely be a June scorcher (don’t worry, the event is indoors). Last but not least, there will be raffles and live performances from The Rose Dynasty Foundation and friends! 

If you made it this far, we hope you are hungry and as excited as we are for this event. Big Love Bake Sale is family-friendly and free to attend. It will take place on June 4th at ART/ifact Studio in Lakeland from 12 to 3pm. Tickets will be available at the door to redeem for baked goods and beverages. Each ticket is $5 and is good for one item of your choosing. We can’t thank our participating bakers and makers enough for offering up their talents. Special thanks to ART/ifact for providing us with a space to hold all this love (and sugar) and of course to the Rose Dynasty Foundation for everything they do for our community. See you all on the 4th!

Photography by Amy Sexson

Big Love Bake Sale
June 4, 12 pm – 3 pm 
820 N. Massachusetts Ave.
Lakeland, Florida 33801


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