Our new series, 'East London Heroes', focusses on the incredible entrepreneurs surrounding us on Hackney Road. This lot are making big ole ripples in their fields and we love em for it. 

We're kicking off with the massively talented baker, Lily Vanilli. With a bakery round the corner on Columbia Road, we've collaborated from the beginning and have watched London (now the world) fall madly for her cakes.


Lily, our Queen of Bakers, tell us how you ended up knee deep in dough in East London?

A bit by accident - I never set out to start a business, I just started selling a few cakes to make extra (I say extra, I didn't have any to begin with) cash 11 years ago. I started out selling to friends and it quickly blew up. This was before Bake Off and before cupcakes were a big trend so it was weird enough at the time that I was young and baking in East London that it was a press story. Within 6 months I was baking for Elton John and Lady Gaga and had a concession in Harrods and a book deal. Nuts.


How did you come about acquiring your beaut premises?

I found it on Gumtree!

It was the first place I looked at and it's perfect. Quiet during the week so we can bake to order, and then busy with the flower market on Sundays.


What's your fave thing about owning your own biz?

Having a platform to put all of my skills and ideas to use. I think when you're an entrepreneur your business ends up naturally being built around all your strengths and interests. My bakery is equally known for using seasonal and quality ingredients and experimental baking, as it is for b-movie inspired zombie themed really realistic gory cakes, and cakes with a high fashion or design element.

The only way these things all make sense is that they're things I care about or am interested in.


Least fave?

Having to do all the things I'm not interested in or not good at.


How on earth did you end up in Georgia? Tell us?!

I'm writing this from Tbilisi now! In my beautiful cafe in Vake.

I was invited to visit a couple of years ago and just fell in love with the city. I made some friends here and we shared a vision for a modern bakery in Tbilisi and we have been open for 6 months now.. (Check it out here)


Fave things to do in London?

Play pool, hang around the park in summer, walk to the river with my boyfriend, have big, fun dinner parties at home. Work in my bakery <3


Three words to describe you?

Unlikely pastry chef


Three words to describe your business?

Modern, creative, artisanal


What's the future hold for Lily Vanilli?

I'm looking at a place in Mexico! tbc on that but it would be the dream. I'm also planning to set up Lily Vanilli Academy to teach baking and cake decorating.


Butter cream or chocolate cream?

Buttercream, I'd use a ganache if icing chocolate cakes (although I love chocolate custard for donut)


Fave flower:

Peonies are the absolute dream for cakes. My favourite time of year if the 3 weeks when the peony's short season overlaps with white currants even shorter one. Those are the best cakes of the year!

See some more of Lily's creations here.

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