Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Changing the Focus from Cakes to Decorated Cookies

My business started as an extension of my hobby; baking, and while I didn't know how it would turn out at the time, I started making a lot of cakes - weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, showers, etc.  I loved being part of the celebration for these exciting events but since I am being honest with you, often struggled to love the final product.  I have always considered myself a baker first, an artist a distant second.  The cakes I was called upon to do often involved intricate details, some of which I love to do (like sugar flowers), some of which send chills up and down my spine (sculpting figures, for example).  I tend to focus on every imperfection, despite the accolades I received.  Being a small business owner, I always took the work and sometimes worked myself into a frenzy trying to produce the best cake and all its elements.

Last summer I started making a lot of hand-rolled, hand-iced sugar cookies for my town's farmers' market, to much acclaim I might add, and loved the creative process involved.  I also marvelled at how I continued to improve my skills in this field and often was happy with the products I produced.  I have made thousands of these cookies for the market, as well as hundreds (at a time) for corporate events and weddings. This past Thanksgiving was a revelation - I cranked out 450 cookies over a couple of days, loving every minute of it, probably because ever since I was a child I have had a strange facination with production lines, and making these cookies makes me feel like a one-man production line!  I realized I would be really happy if I did decorated cookies all the time.  And so, for the last few weeks I have been seeking advice, speaking to customers and friends and trying to decide if this would be an appropriate move for Sweet Handmade and myself.

An important factor in deciding to change my business focus is time management.  It is extremely important to me to create a fresh product and since celebrations that require cake often take place on the weekend, my work week didn't usually start until Thursday and I would often find myself working Friday night and Saturdays.  While I haven't exactly been missing out on hot dates and parties, I am sad to be missing time with my family, as they are upstairs watching movies or hoping for family time.  With my daughers being teenagers, I recognize they won't want to hang out with me much longer and I don't like to miss these opportunities.  Decorated cookies have a different kind of schedule.  The decorating often takes a day or two and the icing takes up to 24 hours to dry.  This takes my work week back into the Monday to Friday range and frees up my evenings and weekends.

The final factor that I have been considering is the ability for these cookies to travel.  My niece in Nova Scotia ordered cookies for her sons' birthdays and I would have never considered any kind of cake for this journey.  These delicious cookies not only travel well, they also stay fresh for a couple of weeks.  This allows me to open up my customer base to anywhere in Canada.

So with this post, I am announcing that Sweet Handmade will now only be offering hand-rolled and hand-iced sugar cookies.  I will continue to offer birthday parties (which include both cake and cookies) because they are so much fun!  All cake orders I have accepted will be honoured, of course.  Over the next few weeks I will post pictures of some of my newest cookie photos, with inspirational ideas like cookie gift boxes, wedding and shower favours, birthday party trays, and corporate cookies.  Like my cakes, the possibilities are endless and with your support I hope to continue to grow Sweet Handmade!