I don’t think any of us said as I child “when I grow up, I’m going to be a cookie decorator”. But here we are! Decorated cookies are exploding right now on the baking scene and there is SO much amazing talent that is being showcased through them. For me personally, I don’t consider myself a baker. It’s just this weird and unexpected niche that I’ve fallen into as a way of expressing my creative side. And the greatest thing of all is this huge cookie tribe across the world who has joined forces on social media outlets to share their work and support each other. This community of bakers and artists is like no other I’ve personally experienced. You rarely see professions like realtors for example, who are liking and commenting on each others work saying “yassss queen, you slayed that home sale!” And yet there’s this group of like minded cookiers following one another on instagram, commending each other and sharing ideas, trials and tribulations in the Facebook chat groups and coming together at different classes and events like the much sought after golden ticketed Cookie Con. We love connecting and sharing the new things we’ve learned with each other. Which brings me to this blog post, and I’ve got some shit to say - because I love you all and it’s time we get real about this business that we’re in. So finish up mixing that bowl of perfect Tiffany blue icing and sending that last email to the client who just added an extra 3 dozen to their order due tomorrow, heat up that coffee or tea and let’s do this.
I started this blog only this week and within a few days have had several requests to talk the business side of things. And trust me, I have some opinions. For me and so many of you, this business is a side hustle. And if it’s your full time gig, I bow down to you! I’m a stay at home mom, a mediocre at best house wife and cookies are actually what I do for fun. But they are a TON of work and fitting them into an already tight schedule of school runs, extra curricular activities, medical appointments, meals, sibling rivalry, colds and flus, taking a shower and feeling like a human at the end of the day... it’s a lot! And the same goes for anyone who is trying to juggle a business and life. Which is why when it comes to knowing the value of your time and pricing your product for what it’s worth, I’m passionate about it.
Dare I even ask how much have you spent on supplies? Don’t worry, I'm not telling your husband - but don't get me started on the cutters, stencils, airbrushes and colours, painting tools and food dyes, boxes, shred and bags... Not to mention when you custom order those cutters or stencils for a specific set. How is $20 per dozen covering your operating costs?
A good cookie artist should be charging AT LEAST $36 - $42 per dozen, base price for their cookies. “But no one is my area would EVER pay that much”. And maybe that’s true, but why does that mean that you should be making them at a loss for yourself? Guess what, not everyone can afford decorated cookies - and that's ok. That’s why Walmart and all the other grocery stores sell them too. YOUR cookies though, are not Walmart Cookies. Your cookies are a luxury custom ordered item that is planned down to every detail for your clients gift or event. Your cookies are not for everyone and the person who won’t pay more for it isn’t your target customer anyway. 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.
Know your audience. Fun fact, 7% of my Instagram following is men (and probably accounts largely in part to my husband and friends husbands), and 93% is women. Women who are always looking for that wow factor to add to little Johnny’s pinterest inspired race car birthday that she’s been pinning and planning mentally for months. Women who for Father’s day want to buy their husbands and dads anything but another boring tie or worlds best dad hammer. Women who want that perfect addition to their best friends bachelorette’s, weddings and baby showers... are you picking up what I’m putting down here? These fine ladies are not wanting some cheap run of the mill product. They want your product and know that it’s also going to cost more, just like all of the other food, baking and décor for their event. They know there's a big difference between that 20 pack of cookies for $3.99 at Walmart and the custom ones from you. And we as bakers and artists LOVE bringing their visions to life and presenting it to them in packaging that is ready to gift or be showcased at their occasion. They know that it is one less thing they have to worry about when they order from YOU!
Market yourself to the clientele you want. The ones who know your value. How? It can definitely be hard to start, but with some creativity it’s totally doable and creativity isn't something you are lacking. Gone are the days though of posting a flyer on the community bulletin board. We all know the way to building your customer base now is social media. You can have the most beautiful cookies, but if you’re posting a photo of them on a baking rack in the corner of your kitchen, they aren’t going to sell. Up your photo, presentation, and packaging games. Get creative, use proper lighting and add cute props even. Show the customers your cookies in detail, but also showcase the whole package they are buying. The box, the shred, the ribbons and tags... it is what is going to set you apart. Market your business on the local community Facebook groups, especially the mom groups. Hold contests for a free set of cookies. Partner with a local business. Donate to community events. Make cookies for your kids playgroup or class, or your husbands work. Hand out your business cards and slap your stickers on those neatly heat sealed and ribboned cookie bags. Sign up for a market. Never held a holiday pre order? Make your samples, take pictures and post them everywhere. Get your name out there and bring your A game with your product and customer service. Doing the initial work is what’s going to get you running, get people talking and keep you going!
Like any business, it takes guts to stand your ground and know what you’ve got. If you don’t believe it, no one else will. Put as much pride into marketing and pricing yourself correctly as you do creating your product, and take no shame in your game because YOU are all you have to make it happen, no apologies to be given when they say “ohh, but they're JUST cookies”. Cause they’re not.