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Interviews with Shey: Jessica Harris

Shealynn Benner

Tell me a bit about yourself. (Married, kids, hobbies, etc.)

I have been married to my husband, Jeff, for 9 years this coming October and we have a 4 year old daughter, Kaylan. I'm also a huge Green Bay Packers fan and love Captain America.

What are you most passionate about?

I would say everything I love, I am very passionate about. I am quite a perfectionist, so I tend to give everything my all.

What sparked your interest in making cookies? Did someone specific inspire you to start?

I started making cookies as a thank you for friends and family who donated to my Penguin 5k fundraiser! I made penguin cookies and realized it was much harder than it looked, but I immediately fell in love and haven't looked back since! 

As a cookie business owner, what are you most proud of? And what has been your biggest challenge?

As a cookie business I'm most proud of how I have grown in my abilities. I've put so much time and effort into learning new skills and techniques! It's terrifying to get an order I have never done before, or isn't in my comfort zone, but I am always willing to try! I still struggle to manage my time well, I find myself staying up extremely late to finish orders, or constantly saying, "I can't, I have cookies..." 

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 penguin! I love them so much and my first cookies ever made were to thank people for raising money for penguin conservation, so I make my entire business after them, The Petite Penguin!

How long have you been decorating cookies?

I have been decorating for about 6 years.

Do you decorate and sell cookies full time? If not, what do you do when you’re not baking?

In addition to baking cookies, I am a figure skating coach. I have been involved in figure skating for about 29 years. I was competitive all through my youth and have been coaching now for about 17 years. If I'm not at the rink, I'm in my cookie room!

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the cookie decorating process?

My favorite part about cookie baking is the happy customers! I really love being able to make their events special. My least favorite part of the job is easily mixing icing colors and cleaning cookie cutters. Both are so tedious to me.

Who is the biggest supporter(s) of you and your cookie business?

My biggest supporters would be my husband and family. They were so encouraging when I decided to focus on cookies and skating, it made me much more confident to take the step away from education. I also have a wonderful customer base that keeps me going

Is there someone that has inspired you in the Cookie Industry? Why?

One of the biggest inspirations for cookies and life is Sara over at Sugar & Spoon Baking Co. She has the most beautiful, positive outlook on life, and makes some phenomenal cookies. Sara is always so encouraging and real on her Instagram stories, I just love her personality and positive outlook.

How do you balance everything?(Kids, husband, activities, working out, cookies etc)

I do have a hard time balancing everything. I have tried very hard to not take on too many orders in one week. I've been limiting the amount of cookies based on quantity and detail level so I am not overwhelmed. 

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things (not people) would you bring with you?

I hope I am never stranded on a desert island because I'm terrified of large bodies/ open water. However if I was, I would want to have sunscreen, a solar powered charger, and an iPod loaded with my audiobooks and New Found Glory albums.

What is your best advice to someone wanting to start making cookies for profit?

I would tell new cookiers take your time and know your worth. Your skills will develop over time; practice a lot, watch videos, read blogs, challenge yourself. As you grow, your customer base will grow, so don't be afraid to charge what your skills and time are worth. Not every potential customer is your customer, and that is OK!

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