There’s a corner of the internet that is more than candy-coated: it’s sweet to its core.
It’s the domain of artists who have weaponized cuteness, where you can find stickers of flaming pink 8 balls, knickknacks of a cat with a tiny pumpkin as a hat, hand-stitched lava lamp rugs.
It’s not that Christa Lebron — perhaps better known as her alter-ego Chez Peachy — discovered this niche of social media, as much as she found a home — for her sunny disposition and even brighter baked goods.
Christa had been baking cupcakes under the handle Peachy Cupcakes when, one day, scrolling through her favorite hashtags on Instagram, she came across a cake the size of a small takeout container. Colorful and baroquely decorated, the slightly larger cake clicked with her aesthetic. Namely, it was just that cute.
“I love to promote joy,” she said. She makes sunshine you can eat.
Her cakes are called bento cakes or lunchbox cakes. You can hold the box with one hand to eat with the other. Orders come with a mini wooden spoon, a more upscale version of those that come with single-serve ice cream from the supermarket.
Whether the cake is a circle or a heart, each shape is lined with neat curls of frosting, topped with cute phrases like “Leo queen” or “feliz cumple,” or sometimes fluorescent maraschino cherries. Inside, the cake is often dotted with funfetti.
Christa knew she hadn’t seen anything like lunchbox cakes in Tucson, and she went all in.
Christa rebranded her Instagram account to “Chez Peachy” — after a title on a handmade book of recipes her close friend made for her wedding. The French isn’t accidental — Christa grew up outside of Montreal, in a small, wooded town where you could hear Quebecois on the street.
Now you can find her lunchbox cakes at makers markets across town, in venues like the MSA Annex and the Tuxon Hotel. But she’ll travel, too — some of her most recent events have been in Rio Rico and Phoenix. While she’s happy to take custom orders, she advises her followers to snag her cakes at the pop-ups, where she can make them in big batches for a lower sticker price. She makes, decorates, markets and sells each of these cakes all by herself.
For the upcoming fall season, Christa wants to make themed cakes that are more treats than tricks. Though she’s a baker, most of the people she follows on social media are artists, designers and fashionistas. It’s where she gets her inspiration, like a photo she showed me of a baby pink candle covered in tiny ghosts. She wants to channel the design in an upcoming cake — maybe with bats.
“I want to do something extremely cute,” she said.
While Chez Peachy is the only baker — to my knowledge — making lunchbox cakes in Tucson, Christa’s work stands out even in the wider internet because of her colorful online presence. Many of her cakes are creamsicle orange, aqua, lime green and pink. If they aren’t, the picture’s satin background is. If you could unlock her phone’s photo album, your teeth might start aching from the endless scroll of sugary pictures.
“Ever since I was a kid, I had an eye for vibrant!” she said. I had seen her coming from a block away, on account of her bright pink ensemble (complete with magenta cowboy boots). On her first day of kindergarten, her mom let her wear a denim skirt she covered in neon puffy paint.
“If there’s one thing my followers might not realize, though, it’s how much work I put into social media,” she said. Her circadian rhythms have adjusted: when she gets a good night’s sleep, her body will wake her up with enough time to post at 8 a.m. She has over 20,000 followers, and while most of the feedback she gets is as sunny as her content, occasionally she has to deal with haters (who she unironically calls “motivators”) too.
“My friends say, ‘Christa, you’re so sweet, you’d probably make a cake for your enemy,’” she said. “And you know, if we were able to have a mature conversation, and reach some resolution, I probably would.”
“I’m bubbly,” Christa said. “I’m the kind of person who wants to make you feel comfortable.”
Her magnanimity might come from the strength of her faith. The granddaughter of a preacher, she was raised in the church. She moved to Tucson because her husband — also a grandchild of a preacher — lives here. They had met at a national faith conference.
When people are cruel, her mom would tell her to keep feuds private: “If you need somebody to talk to, talk to Jesus, talk to your husband, talk to me.” To counteract the power that comes with anonymity, she’ll invite the motivator to sit down together and have a conversation face-to-face.
She prefers to meet people in person, like at pop-up events where she gets to talk to customers and share her sparkly energy with others. But her prep for these events is grueling. Her reflexive smile turns into a determined line. As someone who loves dressing up, her work outfit is purely functional.
“I definitely have many kinds of Peachy,” Christa said. “I have productive Peachy, social Peachy, girly-girl Peachy — they’re all part of Chez Peachy,” she said.
She got the nickname Peachy from her dad. “When I was a baby, I had the plumpiest cheeks,” she said. “My dad called me Peachy most of the time. My mom was more prone to calling me Babycakes.”
Though her parents divorced when she was a kid, she brings both of them into her business.
While her mom is also a small-business owner, her dad was the artist. “Our father had always been very adventurous and, you know, just filled with love," she said. "He was very much a dreamer.” He died in an accident when she was in middle school.
“It was very hard on me when I got the news, when I was a teenager,” she said. “So I put a lot of my time into baking.”
“I think about him all the time,” she said. “My mom is the business part of Chez Peachy, my dad is the artistic side. Together, it’s me!”
Monday and Tuesday are her days to recharge, when she’s “only” working on a limited number of preorders and keeping up with social media.
She has been working so hard toward a single-minded goal: to open a brick and mortar. “I think it’ll happen in 2023, maybe early 2024,” she said. “I want to do it for my dad.”
At the end of the day, after some of her pop-ups, she’ll come home to her husband or some friends, and they’ll tell her: “Christa, you know your face is covered in sparkles, right? It's not for the look, right?”
She replies: “Technically no, but it fits because I'm a unicorn.”