This Week's Curator: Kimmie Hutchins, Owner of Jam Cakes.
Kimmie Hutchins owns Jam Cakes, a cake decorating business with a loyal cult following. She's often booked for months in advance. She is a married mother of two little ones, and she lives in NE Portland in the Madison South neighborhood, near Rocky Butte. Kimmie was adopted from Korea as a young girl, and she was raised in a small logging town in Oregon. She has lived here in Oregon for most of her life. She has a background in painting and used to show her work and ran a small art gallery in downtown Portland. She fell into cake decorating a few years ago, and in 2016, Kimmie started Jam Cakes and now makes custom cakes and treats full time. When Kimmie is not working on cakes, she’s usually spending time with her family and probably driving her kids all over town to all of their activities.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I live in NE Portland, near Rocky Butte and close to the airport. I actually really love our neighborhood once you get off of NE 82nd. There are lots of families with kids who live in the area, and my children’s school is extremely close and very diverse. We have a few homeless people in the neighborhood, although it's not as extreme as other areas of Portland. The housing prices are insane though. My family was extremely lucky in the way and when we purchased our home.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
My family actually travels out of our area quite a bit to do activities and family stuff. Honestly, I don't feel like there is a ton to do w/ kids around us. We like to go down Fremont, over to the Mississippi, Division, and Clinton areas to take our kids to play, eat and wander.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
I think people might think that East Portland is more dangerous. Honestly, it's growing and really thriving and I don't feel it is any less safe than any other part of Portland. I lived downtown for many years and felt a lot less safe there. In our neighborhood, I often let the kids play in the front yard unsupervised or run to our neighbor’s house to play with their kids. There are a lot of little shops and gems popping up as well, run by younger people, so I feel like I really fit in here.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
Hmmm, I don't really have a good answer for that. I think it's a great area to raise a family. Far enough away from the city to feel homey, but not so far out that you feel like you're in the suburbs. I truly think it's up and coming, but with housing prices and cost of living rising, I don't know if it will be able to grow in that way, which is unfortunate.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
I think the way Portland is portrayed in the media is...well, very big and very liberal. I love this city, but it's actually quite small for a city. And as much as people don't want to admit it, it's still very racist and gentrified. I see people complaining about how they miss 'old Portland' and I do miss some of the charm that once brought me here, but the city needs to grow. It has a lot of problems. In order for it to become better, we can't stay 'old Portland'.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
My biggest worry is how my kids are going to be treated as they get older. I always loved that my kids are biracial and never thought I would need to be concerned with how they were treated, especially here. My thoughts have changed on that though, especially within the last couple of years. I try very hard to teach them to be accepting of everyone, that there is no right or wrong way to look and that you can be whatever you want to be. I can't control how other people act though or how they raise their children.
What gives you hope?
Right now, not much. I'm anxious about the direction the country as a whole is going. I have a lot of concerns about my future here and my children's future here.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I agreed to participate because I thought it would help bring a little insight to Portland, this area, and I could maybe talk about some subjects concerning race, adoption, raising children, and what it's like being a woman business owner.