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Zahara Valibhoy is turning getting the jab into a cakewalk.
The Melbourne pastry chef has begun selling “post-vax cakes” featuring the slogans “yay, science”, “good jab”, “congrats on your vax!” and her personal favourite, “Poppin’ buttons for Sutton”.
Zahara Valibhoy and her vaccine-themed cakes.Credit:Joe Armao
That slogan caters to the many fans of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who has gained cult status during the pandemic.
Ms Valibhoy, who pre-pandemic specialised in engagement and wedding cakes, has been making and advertising “vax cakes” for only a fortnight – but the idea has taken off.
“Everything has been for people that are either getting vaxxed on the weekend, or for a family member that has just gotten theirs,” she says.
One of Ms Valibhoy’s popular designs.Credit:Joe Armao
“It’s just something nice and cute, you know, especially for something that is quite contentious for a lot of people.”
Ms Valibhoy’s husband was in bed with flu-like symptoms after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when the baker spoke with The Sunday Age, and said she’d experienced firsthand how a cake could be a nice post-jab pick-me-up.
The Balwyn chef, who runs her one-woman business, Buerre, from home, is one of many small businesses that have turned to jab-themed products as Australia’s vaccine rollout gathers pace.
Karin Yates, a creator behind accessory brand Embrace Your Inner Tote, has lost her usual income from selling her hand-made products at markets during Sydney’s eight-week lockdown.
“But that’s good for me in a way, that I can concentrate and put a bit of a smile on someone’s face and promote something to get rid of this godforsaken thing [COVID-19],” she says.
Ms Yates’ latest addition to her range is a black tote bag with the slogan “vax is the new black”. She’s also working on bejewelled denim jackets that will be vaccine-themed.
“The new black is what’s trending at the moment, and we’re trending vaccines,” she says.
Nikita Majajas, behind the Sydney pop art accessory brand Doodad and Fandango, has had a smash hit with her “fully vaxxed” earrings, which she launched four weeks ago.
“It’s been insane, can’t even believe it,” she says. “I’ve never had anything that’s been such a hot seller.”
She creates and sells badges, bolo ties, belts and necklaces in various cartoon virus themes: pills, injections, toilet paper and face masks.
“People want to show other people that they’re vaccinated,” she said. “There’s not much to be excited about at the moment – and maybe that’s one of the few things you can feel good about right now.”
“As much as medical, it’s political,” she says.”
A post-vaccine cake example.Credit:Joe Armao
Local COVID-19 themed merchandise first made a splash in 2020 with the release of Professor Sutton and Premier Daniel Andrews-themed bedspreads and pillows by Melbourne artist Ashley Ellis. Jeroen Weimar, the state’s COVID-19 response commander, is a recent edition.
Brisbane bookkeeper Lisa Gilder recently decided to keep tabs of businesses which promoted COVID-19 safety through her Instagram account @shop_covid_safe_au.
Not only does she promote local creators producing vaccine-themed products, she also uses customer recommendations to highlight other businesses around the country such as cafes and gyms who are especially serious about coronavirus safety.
“Every time I got on social media I was seeing posts about businesses that were anti-lockdown,” she says. “I felt like they were taking up most of the space in the [virtual] room.
“So I just promote businesses that are doing the right thing – to carve a little it of space back for us.”
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