Tell me a bit about yourself. (Married, kids, hobbies, etc.)
I’m Corianne, I live in Chestermere, AB Canada – just outside of Calgary for those familiar. I’m happily married to my husband Jeff of 13 years and we have two boys, Parker and Kade who are 5 & 7. My background before kids and cookies was actually oil & gas pipeline sales as an Administrator. I left that job when I had my first son, and was a stay at home mom for 5 years (another son 2 years later) before starting cookies as a hobby / soon to be profession.
What are you most passionate about?
Cookies is obviously a passion, but also helping and inspiring others. My first set of cookies came as a class birthday treat for my oldest who was in preschool at the time. I had come across decorated cookies on Pinterest and figure they couldn’t be THAT hard – little did I know! Flash forward, and I never for a second imagined it would turn into what it has. Although it is now my business, I love to help others who are starting out as a hobby or business. Once my Instagram really started growing, so did the questions and requests for guidance from others which is what led me to starting my blog to share my tips and techniques with others. Some people thought I was crazy sharing my knowledge at first (giving away my “secrets” and everything I’ve learned along the way), but it has honestly been a huge factor in my success and is what led to me where I am now with teaching cookie decorating classes. At the end of the day, some take pride in learning and doing something themselves – the moms who want to decorate cookies for their families, those looking for a new hobby, or who might be looking to start a business of their own. Others have no interest and are looking for a professional to add the wow element to their event, and would rather pay someone to do that. I am happy for both and it is the now the foundation of what I offer.
What sparked your interest in making cookies? Did someone specific inspire you to start?
I honestly had no idea that decorated cookies were even a thing! Sounds crazy, but no one in my direct area was offering them and I had never even seen them at an event. The closest would have been the seasonal cookies at Starbucks and I surely didn’t know there was this entire cookie world out there until I looked up sugar cookies on Instagram and it was basically over for me from there! Some of the first “Cookiers” I followed were Sarah Gutman of Sarah’s Cookie Jar, and Braidi Fredrickson of the The Frosted Cookiery. Like many, the first blog I came across was the amazing Callye Alvarado’s (Sweet Sugarbelle). I was obsessed with what these ladies could make out of a blank cookie and icing, and it really inspired me to keep at it and be able to achieve the decorating style that I wanted.
As a cookie business owner, what are you most proud of? And what has been your biggest challenge?
It was actually never my intention to start my own business. After being a stay at home mom for 5 years, I craved something more as my kids were out of the baby stage and more independent. All I knew is that I didn’t want to go back to a corporate setting. As my love for creating cookies grew, I would make them for family and friends events – basically any excuse and I would make cookies. Soon was being asked about orders and I honestly couldn’t believe anyone would want to pay me for cookies, but I figured why not and I went with it. I opened a Facebook page and started lightly advertising in community groups. Things took off quite fast, which I hadn’t planned on and I really had to learn everything about running a business as I went. The bonus of being a new business of just yourself, is you make the rules and do what is right for you. I’ve grown a lot as a person and am so proud of what I have accomplished in a short time. I was even recently awarded ‘Best Small Business of the Year, Under 3 Years” by our cities Chamber of Commerce, which was huge for me and represents that anything is possible if you put in the work.
My biggest challenge is how fast this has grown – and I know this is a wonderful problem to have and I am beyond grateful, but it does come with challenges. I am a one woman show – I do everything from creating my products, marketing, taking and planning orders, baking, decorating, packaging, accounting, supply ordering… you get the picture! There are only so many orders that can be taken and amounts I can do for the holidays. I am not at a point in my family life that I would want to expand beyond what I am doing now, and I don’t have the desire to open a bakery for many reasons. It’s a challenge to educate customers that these types of cookies are just like any other custom product. There is no such thing as cookies for tomorrow and that they need to order at a given time for holidays etc. I started out being a people pleaser and have learned very quickly that you can’t be and that you have to set boundaries and stick to them for many reasons, mainly your sanity!
Do you have a logo? If yes, what is the significance of it? How did you come up with the name of your cookie business and brand image?
My logo is a pink stand mixer, inspired by my little KitchenAid artisan mixer that has since been put on strict icing duty and replaced by a larger one better able to withstand the torture of mixing dough daily. I really loved watercolor at the time and chose to have florals as such to represent the creation of something beautiful, and a bit of a spin on the main ingredient of cookies being flour. I also offered cupcakes in the beginning, hence the ones at the bottom with some iced cookies. I should really take the cupcakes off as I don’t offer them anymore due to time, but haven’t gotten there yet. It's on my list. As far as brand image, I love bright, fun and colorful just like the cookies I make.
How long have you been decorating cookies?
I've been decorating cookies professionally now for 2 years.
Do you decorate and sell cookies full time? If not, what do you do when you’re not baking?
I don’t really classify myself as part or full time, its more like all and any time I can when I am not busy with my real full time job of being a mom. I get the majority of my work done when my kids are in school and then again at night once they are sleeping. There are always emails, planning and designing in between – it feels like its just a part of who I am now. When I’m not working, I’m with my husband and kids just being a wife and mom doing family things… there’s also a lot of dishes, laundry, meals, school runs and appointments that don’t happen themselves!
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the cookie decorating process?
I never refer to myself as a baker, because really I’m not and don’t deserve that credit. I can make a great sugar cookie, but its what I do with the icing that sets me apart. My least favorite part is making the dough and baking, mainly because I just want to get to the fun part. I don’t like making the icing either. Or coloring it. Or making the right consistencies. What I DO love is when I have everything ready and in front of me so I can start creating. It’s an art for me, the icing is the paint and the cookie is the canvas.
Who is the biggest supporter(s) of you and your cookie business?
I am so lucky to have the support that I do. Obviously, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my husband. He’s seen me through a lot and has never questioned any of it. He does question why I spend so much on supplies sometimes, but I just ignore that part.
My kids love that their mom is the local cookie lady and that their friends think its cool. My oldest has actually come home with cookie requests for his friends – which always get bumped to the top of the list.
Another huge supporter and reason why this business started is my best friend. She saw the potential right away and really had to nudge me into taking the first orders when I was hesitant to begin. She’s been my cheerleader the entire way and is there when I am drowning in cookies, ready to listen, take my kids for a few hours or drop me off a coffee. She’s always just been genuinely happy for my success and that is truly a quality that is hard to find in someone.
NONE of what I do would be possible without the support of my community. They really have embraced my business and how I do things, I’m just so grateful for them and their continued love as a I grow.
And to my online supporters, “followers”, fellow Cookiers, fans… I am humbled and have experienced so much positivity. The messages I receive from people on how I have helped them, or that they love my videos really does keep me going on the tough days and keeps me driven to produce quality work and content.
Is there someone that has inspired you in the Cookie Industry? Why?
I am inspired every day by this community of Cookiers online. I always say that it is so rare to have a group of people like this who are this supportive of one another, sharing ideas and rooting each other on. I could never narrow it down to just one person who inspires me, there is SO much talent and the community continues to grow which is great to see!
How do you balance everything? (Kids, husband, activities, working out, cookies etc)
Balance is something that is ever shifting I find. The time of year, personal life events and challenges, age of kids… many factors contribute. Its something that I’ve really had to work at and has been the driving force behind the recent shift in my business direction. After a busy 2 years of custom and holiday orders while also taking on teaching, I was really struggling to find the quality family time I needed. My kids are still so young and these years I know will be gone all too soon. I love what I do, but I love them more and something had to give so I could be the mom I want to be. After much thought, I decided I needed to cut custom orders for the foreseeable future while still doing holiday pre orders and teaching classes. Letting go of customs gives me the time to recharge and just be a mom between busy seasonal times. I’m still in the beginning stage of this shift, but really feel this is the right decision for now. Cookies will always be there, but this chapter of our family life won’t be.
As far as balance when I am doing cookies, its so important to make yourself a schedule and stick to it. For me, my routine revolves mainly around when my kids are in school. Its important when planning your availability to schedule in down time and to not overbook yourself. So much easier said than done, but necessary not to burn out. Maintaining your personal life with your significant other and friends is key, its so easy to lose yourself when you are running and growing a small business like this while also maintaining the other roles and responsibilities in your life. If you don’t take the time for yourself, you aren’t going to succeed for long and I know first hand what burnt out feels like. Whatever it is; a date night, lunch with a friend, reading a book or working out - you sometimes just need to schedule it in like you do anything else. YOU are your business and brand in this industry and need to make sure to fuel yourself with what you need personally.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things (not people) would you bring with you?
Easy! My husband and two kids… but I would really like internet access too, so one of the kids might not make the cut!
What is your best advice to someone wanting to start making cookies for profit?
Know your audience and your worth – and don’t sacrifice your worth for the wrong audience. I hear it all of the time from other Cookiers that people just don’t want to pay for their product, and I always say it – they are not your customer. Decorated sugar cookies are luxury custom ordered item that is planned down to every detail for your client’s gift or event. Your target customer is the one who sees the value in your product and what you do and knows they are paying for the wow factor that your cookies provide. And let’s be honest, how much does one pay for a custom cake, party rental and supplies? There is no reason that your cookies should be on the low end of the budget with how much time and love goes into them. Market yourself to this clientele, have guidelines in place for what you offer, pricing and packaging. Educate your customers on lead times and how to order. There is a common misconception that because it is a baked item, that you are essentially a bakery and can have an order ready with little to no lead time which is often not the case. Know your limits and stay within them, don’t be afraid to say no. Watch for new opportunities and take them. And don’t forget to be yourself because that is truly what will set your brand apart.
Thank you Corianne for your wise words and for giving us a little peek inside your life - both personal and professional!
I hope you all enjoyed the very first Interview in our series! Leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite piece(s) of advice was from Corianne.