Jake Kale was working in music and TV production when he stepped back to reassess his life. He thought about what brings him the most happiness.
The answer was easy: flowers.
In 2018, Kale founded Cobra Lily, which merges his background in fine arts, music video production and his love of flowers. The name is inspired by the carnivorous pitcher plant Darlingtonia californica, as well as his love for the alluring and feared snake.
His work has garnered the attention of Vogue and Essence magazines, and Kale has served influential clients across Southern California. Based in Koreatown, Kale doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar store but spends plenty of time at the flower market Downtown.
“What sets me apart is my ability to communicate with the florals, the arrangements that I’m making,” said Kale, who recently relaunched his website. “I put a lot of intention into everything I do to create really unique, really breathtaking pieces that speak for themselves.
“Everything I make has a different mood, and I like to present things in the form of flowers that most people aren’t used to seeing.”
Kale has found success blending florals with editorial work. He enjoys the look of flowers applied to a model’s body.
“Creating a story with flowers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in a vase,” he said.
Flowers started as a hobby for Kale. A few years ago, he made “big changes” in his life and stopped the careers he had been in before, which were music and TV production and publicity.
Three and a half years ago, he became sober.
“That was a huge moment for me to reevaluate everything that had been going on in my life,” Kale said. “By changing one big thing about myself, all these other things fell in line. I could embrace being my best self that also involved embracing what things make me the happiest.”
Lately, he has been collaborating with other area businesses. The pandemic gave him the opportunity to sit down and formalize what he wanted to do with his business. Among his collaborators are the T-shirt company Lockwood 51 and Candle Delirium, with whom he’ll create candles.
“Primarily, I’m trying to build my business and get my name out there,” he said. “Cobra Lily is a brand name synonymous in LA with very far-out, adventurous, colorful florals. People can expect to see something really beautiful and wild when they order.
“I have to push myself. Like any artist, a lot of the times I create something and I say to myself, ‘Man, this wasn’t it,’ I may not find it striking, but the next person likes it.”
His relatively new career brings him joy. He enjoys delivering flowers and putting them in the hands of smiling recipients.
“These natural beauties from the earth can change somebody’s disposition so much,” he said. “It’s a really special feeling.”