Clara Cakes, a teen-run vegan bakery

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Clara Polito, 17, founder of the vegan bakery Clara Cakes

Clara Cakes is a Los Angeles vegan bakery, run by 17-year-old Clara Polito. While most teens are busy studying – or partying – Clara has created something of her own mini-food empire.

She’s thrived with the support of LA’s underground music scene. She started selling her baked goods at The Smell, an all-ages music venue in downtown LA, when she was around 13, so she could make money while watching bands she liked.

“It’s really cool to see musicians support my business, because I’m not a band, I’m a bakery,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy to know that one of the biggest scenes that supports me is the music scene.”

A shelf of vegan cookbooks above the oven at Polito's family's apartment in Atwater Village.
A shelf of vegan cookbooks above the oven at Polito’s family’s apartment in Atwater Village. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Polito was raised vegetarian by her mother, who’s also vegan, and made the switch to veganism after researching the dairy industry. She hopes she’ll inspire others her age to try a meat-free lifestyle.

“I would love to see more young people become vegan,” she said. “And I think it’s important for young people to learn about the factory farm industry, instead of solely for their health, because the big picture is how much factory farming has an effect on our planet and the animals.”

Polito also runs a teen arts collective called Teen Creeps that puts on an exhibition every summer. She’s put together a food-related zine called “Kiss the Chef,” which features surreal drawings, angsty romantic poetry, black and white street photography, and Polito’s own recipe for vegan mac and cheese waffles.

There’ll be a release party on Friday, March 28th at Thank You For Coming, an experimental art and food space in Atwater Village. The zine release will be accompanied by an all vegan menu and a DJ set by Randy Randall of No Age. There’s more info here.