Rox and Kai are not your typical Cake Boss: Next Great Baker contestants.
Originally from the Hawaiian islands, they’re family—a dynamic aunt/niece duo. They’re also entrepreneurs who own their own businesses, warm and engaging, funny and beautiful.
Oh, and another thing—both are self-taught bakers.
Kaiulani was 29 when she discovered her hidden, cake-whispering ways. As a broke single mom trying to find a birthday cake for her 2-year-old daughter, after viewing a couple Youtube tutorials, she decided to try her hand at baking a cake of her own. The result? A beautiful, professional-level fondant-and-buttercream masterpiece that quickly caught the attention of forums and editors around the web.
“I came to the birthday party, and there was just this huge cake. I said, ‘When did you do this?!’ It was her first cake!” gushed Roxanne, who once baked but had since moved on to the world of beauty, starting the Midvale-based salonLava. (At the salon, clients can not only find stylists and aestheticians, but visit to a Peruvian shaman to get rid of negative energy.)
Before being invited to audition for NGB’s third season, Kai started a baking business that specialized in organic, sugar- and gluten-free cheesecakes and cookies (you might remember the delicious goodies from your Sundance Film Festival swag bag), naming the line of treats Kailava. Rox explained the meaning behind the name: “Kai, which is part of her name, in Hawaiian means water. And lava represents that fire and inner passion. It’s about living your passion and your dreams.” As for the healthy status of her treats? “On the show, Buddy did not like that,” laughed Kai. “He likes sugar!”
Not quite making the third season of the show, Kaiulani was invited again to audition for the fourth season, this time landing a spot among the contestants. As the producers of TLC’s Next Great Baker decided to switch up the format, this time pitting teams of two against each other, Kai enlisted the help of her aunt, Rox.
Though they didn’t want to spill too many secrets about the season, both concluded that reality television was a far more bizarre but rewarding experience than either had suspected. Rox recalled, “It was always, ‘What are they going to do next?’ It was always a surprise . . . surprising and stressful.”
Fast-forward three months to the premiere party for the fourth season premiere of Next Great Baker: both Rox and Kai are nervous but excited, neither knowing how their experiences on the show will be manifested on television or how what they’ve said and done will be cut.
The pair’s tight-knit group of friends and family were invited, as were other notable figures in the entertainment industry, such as Kishmere Carter, the designer of Kai and Rox’s uniforms, as well as costume designer for local film and TV faves Unicorn City and Studio C. Also in attendance was Joe Haze, the Los Angeles-based, spiky-haired, reggae-loving music producer for Sublime, Marilyn Mansen and Nine Inch Nails. Another celebrity guest was the handsome Smallywood star Darien Willardson, whom you’d probably recognize from flicks like Storm Rider, Magic Christmas, and the upcomingThe Last Straw. And, of course, Jesus the shaman was there to grace the party with good vibes.
The party may have been studded with local and national celebrities, but the star that really took the cake was (unsurprisingly) the cake. Over three feet tall, pyramid-shaped and boasting the jet-black head of a jaguar, the giant, statuesque sweet showcased the truly remarkable talents of Kai and Rox.
Regardless of the outcome of season four of Next Great Baker, with a supportive circle of family and friends, increased publicity for their growing businesses, and shared memories of the over-the-top baking competition, the Hawaiian beauties have emerged victorious.