Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s Jennie Cotterill Is Punk Rock’s Best Pastry Chef

Like many other musicians, Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s Jennie Cotterill was hit pretty hard when live music came to a halt due to COVID-19. She and her bandmates had just embarked on a European tour, were just months away from releasing their third album, The pathon Fat Wreck Chords, and were generally gearing up for a year full of punk rock.

When those plans failed, Cotterill needed both a new form of income and something to occupy her to avoid a quarantine-induced depression, and so Jennie Bakes Things was born. As an illustrator-turned-baker, the new venture gave her the opportunity to combine her artistic skills with her baking skills — all without having to leave her Southern California home.

While she’s spent much of the last year and a half figuring out the ins and outs of running her own business, Cotterill has big plans for Jennie Bakes Things. With constant demand for her custom handmade cakes only from an Instagram account, she is focused on next steps (like a website, or not needing to personally go through every detail of every cake with every customer ) and hopefully find some local cafes, record stores, and/or other establishments that would stock a cooler of his adorable delights for those who want a less personalized and less expensive experience.

SPIN spoke with the Bad Cop/Bad Cop guitarist, vocalist and visual artist about his new foray into the world of baking.

SPIN: What made you decide to start a pastry business?

Jennie Cotterill: Well, I had taken a side gig between tours while working in a bakery about 5 years ago. A friend of mine who is a pastry chef said to me “I don’t have time to make these sugar cookies, do you need some extra work?” Then she left shortly after hiring me, and I became the only baker there. I also studied illustration and 3D art, so I had to rely on the skills I had, because I didn’t go to baking school or anything. I was like “Well, I’m going to follow the recipes.. and I’m going to make it look really cool!” It became what the bakery was known for. Then in early 2020 we had this record and a whole year of touring booked, and I finally found someone I could trust to leave the bakery on while we toured. The bakery was so nice to me, but they got mad because we couldn’t provide such great service just six months out of the year. I found this other artist who was also a pastry chef, I hired her and I left.

We went to Europe for two weeks before COVID shut everything down and I’m coming home. So I had quit my job, and now there was no more touring, so I was just replenishing work, like sewing masks and just throwing things away. My friend wanted a birthday cake for his daughter – because being a kid during the pandemic is brutal – so I made a cake for him. I don’t know why I was reluctant to let it be my job, but I think I felt like I was betraying the job I left. Eventually I realized that was silly, and that’s how I’ve survived ever since. I’ve done a lot of freelance work as an illustrator and artist over the years, but it’s my favorite medium because there’s a time limit. You can’t spend too much time on it, otherwise it becomes stale and disgusting.

Is there anything you’ve learned from being part of a group that has helped you in your cake business or vice versa?

Well, I know my artistic skills definitely help both. Every band has to have an artist — otherwise your stuff looks like crap or you have to pay someone to do it — so that’s me. The backdrop I use to take pictures of all the cakes I made for our record cover. It was a 3D model that needed a big sky background, so I painted a few different skies, brought it to my friend to photograph, and it was the best. Then when we crashed home post COVID I had to do a livestream and I was like ‘How can I make this not sound like shit?’ So I hung it up and it never came down. So yeah, I was tagging the group and then cannibalizing it to tagging myself for convenience with what I had on hand.

From a creative perspective, how does designing a cake compare to writing and playing music?

It’s funny, because I don’t consider “performance” as one of my skills. I’m in this group with these very talented people, and sometimes other people’s strengths become this fun mirror of how you see yourself. So I came to not think of myself as an artist anymore because I can’t jump up and scream and drive everybody crazy. I’m more of a creative person, and I always do things with whatever is around, so that’s what I’m doing here. I’m always spouting out music and artwork.

Is there any advice you would give to someone else who wants to get into the cake business?

Well, one thing I always try to overcome is that I’m not a business oriented person. I’m like ‘These are my skills. I can do it. Hopefully this will pay for things. For example, my business currently exists entirely on Instagram, and there will be times throughout the day when I remember that it’s not OK. In fact, I’m meeting a friend of mine who’s going to help me with a website. Also, cleaning up intake is one of my goals, rather than emailing and, heaven forbid, phoning someone – which is literally how I take orders. I just want to make it a little less messy, more professional, and smoother. Sometimes I fantasize that if I had a 12 year old they would run my social media, but I don’t.

Either way, you have to learn to be accountable for your time. I have a hard time setting prices honestly, and when I set prices honestly, there’s a 50% attrition rate and I just have to accept that and not apologize. The alternative is I pay to give someone something – which I will if we’re friends and it’s a symbiotic thing, but not for a client who just thinks it costs too much. I bought a cake from professional bakeries and was disgusted and shocked by its price. It’s like in [2008 film] Be Kind Rewind, these are “Swedish” cakes, it’s not on a menu. It’s not crap made in a factory that lived in a freezer for 9 months before it came to you off-center on a cake board. So yeah, I had to learn what I’m worth and be okay with people who say no or try to negotiate, because I totally understand that too. I don’t have a lot of disposable income, so I have sympathy for these people.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the intersection of your interests between cake, music and illustration?

Well, they’re all mixed up in my dreams sometimes where I’m like baking a cake on a bus with whatever I can find. It’s funny to me, because it’s like, “Okay, you’re in it all the time.” I feel like my music – even though it literally takes me away from this job – has strengthened my business, because a good percentage of my clientele are people who like the band, which is pretty cool. Other than at a show — and especially during the pandemic, which was so isolating — I just guess no one listens to any of our music or remembers any of us exist or care. So it’s kind of cool when I’m halfway through a cake with someone and they’re like, “Oh, by the way, I love this record.” It’s like, “Wow, cool! Thanks for listening, finding me, and ordering a cake.

The post Odd Jobs: Bad Cop / Bad Cop’s Jennie Cotterill is Best Cake Baker of Punk Rock appeared first on SPIN.

About Joan J. Hernandez

Check Also

Punk rock band PUP welcomed by devoted Sylvee fans The Badger Herald

As a seasoned viewer, I like to notice the relationship between a band and its …