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Revi Nagel | “Courageous Voice” | connect.faith
Get inspired by this heartwarming conversation with mom, community cultivator and culinary artist behind Cake Box Vienna, Revi Nagel.
In this episode we talk about:
- Following your passion
- Career change and leaving the corporate world
- Creating community with food
You can connect with Revi on Instagram:
Check out her amazing baking artistry at @cakebox.vie and order her delicious cakes if you’re in Vienna!
Today is the day you vow to follow your heart and not your fear. If only it were that easy! The Courageous Voice podcast chronicles international artists, creatives, plus a handful of scientists, and their stories of fear, courageousness and creativity. Hosted by singer, storyteller and self-proclaimed joy spreader, Chanda Rule, The Courageous Voice inspires us to share our voices courageously in spite of our fears through courageous conversation and community.
Chanda Rule: I am super excited that Revi has agreed to join us today. It took a bit of cajoling and bribing.
Revi Nagel: Yes. I want that cup of coffee! [Laughs]
Chanda Rule: But we are here alas.
Revi [00:01:00] is just a beautiful soul that I met here in Vienna. She’s one of the first people that I met. I met her at a museum at an event with our kids because our kids were in the same playgroup, and she was just so kind and she stayed back and talked, and we had a great conversation. And then on the way home, I realized that we didn’t live so far.
So I was so excited. At the time she was at home, but she has done a lot. She was working and doing event plannings, and some administrative work and support, and running a small team of people at a large business.
And then she decided, Hey, I want to be at home and I want to do what I love. And so she’s baking cakes. Now, I want to start out this podcast by saying, you must push pause and go to her Instagram first. So you can actually see these works of art. They’re incredible. This is not like, [00:02:00] okay, I’m going to start making cupcakes.
She’s making works of art out of food. It is insane. So she starts to do this. She quits her job, and she’s also baking. She started with another friend doing a YouTube channel for a while called Mia Meets Revi where they were doing a lot of traditional foods from her homeland, from Indonesia. And now she shared with me that she wants to open up an indoor playground for kids in Vienna, in a district in Vienna that is underserved in that area. So there’s not a lot of places for moms and kids to gather. And she saw that gap in the market and she said, this is what I want to do next. And not just that – the goal of it is to build community and build a space for moms where they can come and have something good to eat and have a place for their kids to play.
So, that is a bit about Revi, but I’m going to have her tell a little bit more. Revi, welcome. Thank you so [00:03:00] much. What I’ve been asking everybody is, in this moment today, who are you?
Who are you now? Which Revi are you bringing to our conversation?
Revi Nagel: Well, first of all, thanks for having me here. And thanks for inviting me and actually convincing me to do this.
Who am I? That is a very good question. Well, first and foremost, I’m a mom. That’s just the one thing that stuck with me. I mean, I’ve been a mom since, how old is my oldest? Eight years old, eight years.
Bringing a human being into this world is a huge responsibility. Right? So, that is the one thing that I had to sit down and buckle down, buckle in, like, no, this is what I’m doing right now. And I’m going to be doing this for at least the next decade.
So, I’m a mom. Almost all of my decisions are made revolving around being a mom.[00:04:00] The baking thing: I mean, I started baking way before I became a mom, but then when my boys came, I’m like, oh, I actually have someone to do this every day for, not just like for birthdays or parties or whatever. I actually have kids who I can feed cookies to, and then it became like, oh actually, I kind of liked doing this because baking is first and foremost following the rules, like following a recipe to a tee. It’s different than cooking.
Cooking is more like, okay, just a pinch there and all that. But baking is like, you have this recipe and you have to follow it. If it says 10 grams of something, you have to actually put 10 grams if you put in too much or too little, it’s going to mess up the science of the whole thing. So, I like that.
Chanda Rule: This is interesting. Maybe this is why I’m not a good cook, now that you’ve broken it down in that way.
But cooking, there’s a lot of [00:05:00] room in cooking, right? But baking, you just have to follow the recipe and then it’s science in a way. Because I like that, but I also like the wild side of it, you know, like just putting everything, but then I can do that in cooking.
And I like having two different things that like, I can be the neurotic me in baking.
But I can also like explore my wild side in cooking. I like having that. I had that revelation when I had my children. So, basically the decision to quit my job and, bake for people, it also revolves around my kids. Like I want to be home because I want to be more with my kids. Doing the old job was very demanding and like, I’m there. I was there all the time, and I found that I [00:06:00] had little to no patience at all with my kids, because I was trying to figure out, oh, what’s going to happen tomorrow? And what do I have to do tomorrow at work? So, I didn’t like the person I was becoming. So I thought, no, I’m just going to go back to doing what I love doing, which is baking, and making people happy with, you know, a cake.
So, so this is something you were doing before? You had been baking maybe, I don’t know, years before, or?
Revi Nagel: Yeah, but not the kind of cakes that I’m doing now. I mean, you should see my first cakes, like… [laughs]. Nothing like what I’m selling now. But, yeah, but I’ve always been baking.
I’ve always been cooking. I love being in the kitchen so much because I don’t know. It’s a warm in there. It’s where everything happens, at least. [00:07:00] It’s where I was growing up. I lived with my grandmother when I was in Indonesia, and she used to have all of her nieces, her nephews there. They would come from a village, and then they could come to Jakarta to study and she would provide, so that they don’t have to pay for lodging and everything.
She would just provide rooms for them. And I loved that. We would all just come together in the kitchen and I mean, I was, what, five, six years old at the time. But I just loved being there in the kitchen because they were all there. They were trying to cook something, and they would actually let me do something, like they would give me the easier tasks.
I just loved being a part of the whole hubbub of kids working in the kitchen, and that kind of stayed with me. I always find like if I’ve been having, especially when I was still working, if I’ve been having a really bad day at work, the only thing that would help me is to go back to the kitchen and do something.[00:08:00] It’s always been the one that helped me calm down. So I thought, well, if I like it, why don’t I do it for a living, right?
Chanda Rule: So then what was this transition from, okay, yes, you love baking and you love to follow these recipes, to these works of art? Because how I see it is, you are probably following the science of it for the actual cake itself, but when it comes to decorating and the frosting and I mean, you did a replica of a Monet painting on a cake.
I mean, so, so tell us about what this transition in self-expression was. I mean, you’ve done that. You’ve done so many things. When Kite was four, you made him, oh my God, that, so it was the electric guitar cake, but the kicker was the next year: the drum set cake with cymbals!
So, what was that? You just decided, [00:09:00] okay, I’m going to start doing cake sculptures, or did you just start slowly trying things?
Revi Nagel: Well, there’s this creative side of me. I have always been into drawing, singing, just creating stuff. And there was this period of time in my life where I thought, oh, I’m going to be a painter.
I think we all have that phase: I want to be something. So I bought lots and lots of canvas and like just started painting. And then I stopped doing it for a reason. And then right after I started doing the baking thing, a friend of mine was asking me, look, I want to gift my girlfriend a cake, but I want it to be a meadow of buttercups. And I’m like, how am I going to do that? And then he actually sent me a picture, like, you know, like this. And I was like, well, how am I [00:10:00] going to do that? And then, I thought, well, I can draw.
So I’ll just draw it, instead of doing on a canvas, I’ll just do it on the cake. So yeah. That’s how it started, I think. And then from there it’s just learning how to do it. this is just learning by doing, because I’m that kind of person, you can tell me things, I’ll be like, uh huh, uh huh. And I’ll walk out of the room and I’ve forgotten everything. But if you should just show me how to do it, like, this is how you do it and then you let me do it. It’ll stay with me for the rest of my life. So it was just like always doing, trying, and I’m always trying to find people who want to have cake. And then I go, do you mind if I try this? And I’ve never done this before, but I want to. Do you want to be my Guinea pig? And most of them say yes. That’s also one of the reasons why I also liked doing this baking thing, because I get to channel my creative side.
Chanda Rule: It’s interesting because you’ve been doing so much [00:11:00] more. And you’ve had a lot of decisions to make in the past few years. So the decision to quit your job was, I think it was after our first lockdown, your decision to open a business right now – I mean, these are courageous things, but they’re not easy things.
So I’m just wondering what that process was like for you to finally say, okay, I’m going to step away from this job. Because if I recall, you were being offered a promotion at the time, weren’t you? Yeah. So this wasn’t just like, oh, okay, I’m going to step away. So for those of us that are contemplating that, I mean, there’s so many people that don’t know where to begin with these things.
What was that process like?
Revi Nagel: It was scary. To be honest, it was scary because working at this firm, it gave me financial stability. So it was really, really scary to step away from that. I had soul searching if you will. And I’m very grateful. My husband is very, very supportive and he knows [00:12:00] like he is the business brain.
So I’m very, very lucky to have him because I know I can start all this with his guidance. I like planning. Like, okay, I know how the business is going to look like, I know what I’m going to sell. I know how I’m going to do it. But you know, starting a business, there’s so much more behind that which I didn’t know at that time. I’m so, so, so lucky that I have my husband who knows this stuff, who knows how to do the calculations because I suck at math. I’m an artist, I don’t like math. [Laughs]
Chanda Rule: Okay.
Revi Nagel: So, I’m really lucky to have him because he’s doing all this crunching the numbers and all that. But it’s been very, very challenging. And also that decision of, okay, quitting this, knowing that I will have way less income than I’m [00:13:00] used to, it was very, very scary.
But my grandmother, I’m going to talk about her so much because she practically raised me. She always said the first step is always the hardest. But if you never take that first step, you’re never going to know what’s what could happen, and you’re going to be forever asking yourself what is right.
That’s the one question that we want to take away from all of this. So just do it. It doesn’t matter if I succeed or if I fail. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is; the most important thing is I took that first step and in doing so I learned to grow.
So, that’s what I’m trying to overcome. I’m still scared. I’m not saying that I’m not scared. I was still scared, but I always go [00:14:00] back to, I want to take away this "what if." I don’t wanna like sit somewhere in five years and say, oh, what if I did do it? What if, what could happen? What could I have? Because when I was growing up, I wanted to be a singer, but then I took another path. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a performing artist, but someone kept telling me, oh, how are you going to – I just realized that I’m talking to musicians right now.
But you know, back then when I said, I want you to be a performing artist, my parents would go like, oh, how are you going to get your income? Does this mean we’re going to have to support you your whole life? You know, that kind of thing.
You know, and it’s still that generation, right? Like, if you don’t have a proper job as in a doctor or sitting in an office or whatever, you don’t have an income and we’re going to have to support you, they’re still in that mindset.
So that [00:15:00] time when I actually voiced it out to them, look, I want to be in theater and they’re like, oh no, how are you going to live out of that? So I took another path. I did their way, and I’m kind of done doing it. [Laughs.] Okay, let me now just take back whatever it is that I want to do, because I want to create. I want to make people happy with what I’m able to create. And I think I’m doing that with the cakes, and I want to continue doing that. And that’s why the indoor playground idea that came up.
Chanda Rule: Yes, tell us about this indoor playground. I just want to tell the listeners, before we got started, we did a little exercise where we recalled our favorite food, and we thought about what senses were ignited and[00:16:00] what images came to mind, what sounds. This brings me to the indoor playground, because the first thing I thought about when you told me you wanted to do it was this gift that you have of just bringing people together, of community. I mean, it’s your personality. It’s also probably, you know, the food. Not that we didn’t want your food, but yeah, but it’s all of those things, and it’s wonderful, just thinking about this conversation today, how all these things are links that you want to do this indoor playground. And it’s not just, okay, I want to give people a place to bring their kids, but with this core of, I want to bring joy and happiness to people through this community and through this food. So please, please, please, please, please, tell us more about this indoor playground.
Revi Nagel: Yeah. Well, it’s basically what you just said. I’ve noticed since I was very young, that food brings people together no matter what, no matter what kind of day you’ve been having, from all walks of life. You can just come [00:17:00] to a table full of food and just share that, and break the ice of whatever barrier you’re having.
And I think that’s just wonderful and I love having people around and I love having conversations. It doesn’t have to be like all serious and all that because, I mean, you and I have met so often over coffee and it’s never that serious. It’s always very nice to just exchange your thoughts and whatever experience you’re bringing. It’s just so nice. And to get to know other people and to know that they can come and open up because of food. It just blows my mind every time. And that’s why I want to do this. I also want to be able to sit down with the moms and just talk and have them share their experience as [00:18:00] moms with each other without the judgment and without all this.
So that’s what I’m aiming for. You mentioned the playgroup where Kite, where your son and mine were, and I always loved that. I liked going to that playgroup because it’s just the community, it’s just that the people and the kids were so lovely.
And then we would just sit there over coffee, cookies, and cakes and again, food. And then we would just talk and talk and talk and talk, and then we would sing because it was, you know, a playgroup, it was like singing, dancing for the children. And then we would talk some more.
It was just so nice. And yeah, I want to be able to provide that for moms here.
Chanda Rule: Well, I’m excited. I’m kinda sad that Kite is getting older, and he can’t do the soft playground thing anymore, but [00:19:00] I’m still going to come.
Revi Nagel: Take him because I’m sure that my boys will be there every day. They can be like the big boys, like, oh no, you know, they can be the police.
Chanda Rule: Okay. Kite would love that. He would love that. Oh my gosh. So you said something that is standing out in my mind. And this is really when you were talking about who you are as a creative person, you named a lot of things.
And we didn’t talk about this before, but I want to bring this up because I feel like, especially when we’re talking about using our creative voices, a lot of times we’ll say, okay, well, I’m not this particular thing, because that is not like where the main focus is. So for instance, your main focus right now is on baking and you see a lot of how you express yourself through the visual arts. But you’re [00:20:00] also still using your voice, your singing voice in a lot of different ways. So, do you mind sharing a little bit about that? Because you still are singing. I don’t know what you’re doing with it. And I think you were also dancing at some point, you’re doing traditional dance.
So, I don’t know for me, there was a woman that I used to know in New York and she would always say, because there were times, like years, I think was just doing personal training and I’m like, I’m not a singer I’m not doing it. She’s like, of course you’re a singer.
You’re just like doing something else right now. Just because this is not how you’re making all your money does not mean that that’s not who you are or a part of you. But I think it’s interesting for people to hear about how these parts of ourselves show up in our lives. So, can you share with us how you’re using your voice, your singing voice also? Because I’m probably going to miss out.
I only know a couple of things and a couple of stalkings that I’ve done online. [Laughs.] So I know from your posts, but yeah.
Revi Nagel: At the moment I’m a bathroom singer.[00:21:00]
Chanda Rule: This is the best.
Revi Nagel: And, you know, lullaby singer. That’s all the singing I’m doing right now, except when I’m home alone. And, um, oh, Chanda, you’re going to love this. I’ve been listening to Hamilton on repeat.
Chanda Rule: [Squeals] Are you memorizing all the lyrics?! I need to get on it. I need to get on it.
Revi Nagel: We were in Germany for Easter and Sammy, my youngest – this, this is the proof that I’ve been listening to Hamilton too much, because suddenly out of nowhere, he was just like, "I am not throwing away my shot!"
Chanda Rule: Yes!
Revi Nagel: He’s like five years old.
Chanda Rule: I love it. I love it. I love it.
Revi Nagel: And he was singing like, it’s not completely in tune. So I was like, are you singing, like, Hamilton right now? And he’s like, yeah!
Chanda Rule: I love [00:22:00] that.
Revi Nagel: Yeah. But yeah, I used to dance as well, like you said, I used to do traditional Indonesian dance. I mainly did it to connect to my roots or to stay connected to my roots. Yeah, that’s, I don’t know if it’s using, because using my voice, it’s just me channeling whatever I need to, whatever energy I have.
It’s just me channeling all this that I need to do. Sometimes, I mean, I don’t have to perform. Sometimes I will literally stand in the bathroom and just stand in front of the mirror and just like, you know, do whatever moves and like, that makes me happy.
Yeah, so just do whatever makes you happy.
Chanda Rule: I love that. I love that. I love it. I feel like this is a great ending. Do whatever makes you happy. Because there might be some questions and we can chat. [00:23:00] Revi, thank you so much. Thank you so much.
Revi Nagel: Thank you so much for having me.
Chanda Rule: Yeah. There are some beautiful gems. Listen, tell us which Instagram channels are the best to find out more about what you’re doing, to keep following you.
Revi Nagel: Well, you can find me @revinagel. That’s Nagel, I think, in English. That’s where I post like all the personal stuff.
Sometimes I post stuff that I cook. I am considering to turn it into like a food channel thingy, where I can share my recipes and all that, but that is for later. And for my cakes, you can find me @cakebox.vie for Vienna.
Chanda Rule: And is that where people can order cakes from also?
Revi Nagel: Yes. [Laughs] Yes.
Chanda Rule: Oh my gosh.
Revi Nagel: You have to be in Austria though, like, you know, Vienna.
Chanda Rule: If you’re in Vienna, please. Oh my gosh. I’m a customer.[00:24:00] My kid doesn’t even, he’s just like, yeah, if Revi made it, it’s great. That’s his little slogan. Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much. This has been amazing.
Revi Nagel: Thank you so much, Chanda.