Google Sugar Dot Cookies: July 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Corporate Logo Cookies

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - Corporate Logo

Every time I'm asked to re-create a logo in icing, I get a little nervous.  It needs to be accurate.  There's no room for creativity here.

So thankful for my Kopykake.  I could never do logos without it!

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Sugar Dot Cookies in the Press

My 5 minutes of fame?  I've had the honor of being featured in a few local newspapers and magazines this year.........

Here's another reason to be sure that your cookie business is legal.  If you're approached by someone in the media, would you have to turn down the honor of a feature? 

The Valley Citizen, February 2015

Bliss Magazine, Summer 2015

Frederick Magazine, June 2015

Cookies are available for order through my website.

Read more.......
Posts on "Cookiepreneur Interviews"
Posts on "Cookies as Business".
Posts on " Poking Around the Kitchen".
Posts on "Commercial Kitchen".

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

50th Birthday Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing for a 50th Birthday Party

I made royal icing transfers for the numbers 5 and 0 then dropped them onto wet bases.  Some of the numbers were covered in sanding sugar.

Happy 50th!

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing for Doctors and Nurses

Doctor and Nurse Cookies

I loved decorating these cookies because they were just for fun and I got to do it with a very special young lady that just graduated with a nursing degree.

We have bandaids, pills, scrubs, prescription pads, EKG hearts and red crosses.

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cookie Decorating Classes in Middletown, MD

Learn how to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing.

I hold private, one-on-one, decorating classes in Middletown, MD, just outside of Frederick.

The class will be personalized just for you.  We'll start with the basics of icing consistencies, outlining, flooding, wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, and marbling techniques.

You choose the theme of the cookies.  I'll choose the cutters and designs to go along with the lesson.

The cookies will be baked before you arrive.

You'll receive a copy of icing and dough recipes.

You'll decorate and take home 8 - 12 cookies (depending on how much time you take to decorate).

Choose a two-hour or a three-hour class.

Two-Hour Class.....
*  Icing will be made, colored, and bagged before you arrive.

Three-Hour Class....
*  We'll make, color, and bag the icing together so that you can learn about icing consistencies.

Would you like to bring a friend?  I offer one-on-two classes also.

Already familiar with the basics and would like to learn some more advanced techniques?  Sure!

Interested in signing up for a class?  Please contact me through my website.

Read more.......
Posts on "Cookiepreneur Interviews"
Posts on "Cookies as Business".
Posts on " Poking Around the Kitchen".
Posts on "Commercial Kitchen".

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chicken Cookies with Royal Icing

Chicken Sugar Cookies

I loved this simple chicken design!  Believe it or not, they were made for a retiring CEO.  She just loves chickens!

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Interview with Sammie B's Sweets on Cookies as Business

  Cookiepreneur Interview with Sam from Sammie B's Sweets

She's got some great advice for us - those new to the cookie business and those not so new!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

How long have you been in business?   Is it part-time or full-time?
I got my official business license in April of 2012, and I do this part time. I have 3 kids with very different schedules, so it's important to me to be able to work around their schedules and have the flexibility of staying at home with my kids as needed.

Tell us about the Health Department laws in your area?  Do you have to use a commercial kitchen or is there a Cottage Food law? 
TN has a cottage food law, but the requirements vary by county, so you need to check with the local health department for specifics. Fortunately my county is pretty laid back! Here are some examples of the rules:
    - I am only allowed to make foods that do not require refrigeration. 
    - I am not allowed to prepare any other foods in the kitchen at the same time as a commercial order.
    - No pets are allowed in the dwelling.
    - I do not have to have an inspection, but my product labeling must reflect that. I have to have every packaged and labeled item say in a large font, "This product was made in a private home not inspected." If I want to be able to remove this from my labeling, I must have a health department inspection the same as a restaurant would have, and they have the same requirements for the most part. 

If you use your home kitchen, please tell us about that.  What did you need to do to get it approved?  How do you manage your kitchen when it involves both business and family? 
I'm in a unique position, as I actually have a secondary residential kitchen in a separate location. It is in the same county, so the same cottage food law requirements apply as it would in my own home. My brother had built a private studio apartment with a full kitchen, but has since married and built a new home on the same property. As his kitchen was sitting unused, he offered it to me for my business purposes. It's great, because it gives me a separate place to do my work without complicating family meal times and space. However, I can also take my children with me as needed, and they can play in the living room and have their own area away from my cookie work. The kitchen gets no other use other than my cookies and teaching classes. It's perfect for me!

Do you ship cookies?  If so, please tell us about that. 
I only ship when requested, but as most of my business is word of mouth, it is local. My shipping orders are typically customers that have since moved, or friends and family out of state. I do not use etsy, or anything of the sort. As far as how my packaging goes, it depends entirely upon the order. When I know the cookies are for a party and need to be plattered, I typically heat seal each cookie in individual bags, then attach those to firm cardboard. I then wrap each sheet of cardboard in bubble wrap, and then package them in a box for shipping. For these orders, I do not upcharge, I simply charge exactly what USPS charges me. When I know it is a gift, the cookies are layered between bubble wrap in a nice cookie box with a window, and then the entire box is tied with a ribbon and label. That gets wrapped in bubble wrap and fit into a flat rate box. I typically charge $5 for gift packaging.

Does your business include anything else other than taking custom decorated cookie orders?
I actually teach cookie classes every other month. I have done both beginner decorating classes and advanced techniques. 
My beginner's class is a lot of fun! We go over EVERYTHING. We mix dough, roll and cut cookies, and bake a tray in class. We make our royal icing from beginning to end, including coloring, and I share lots of tips and tricks that make it easier! I've learned what streamlines the whole process through the years of trial and error, so I love teaching people the easiest way to do things. We take a break and enjoy some light refreshments, and then everyone gets a dozen cookies to decorate and take home. We go over the very basics - outlining and flooding- to begin with. We move on to creative texture by piping in sections, and then we have fun with wet-on-wet designs. It's about a 3 hour class, and we always have a good time.
For the advanced class, I prepped the cookies and flooded bases where needed. We went over airbrushing, stenciling, the wood paneled look, hand-painting, using luster dusts, and so much more! It was all about the details and textures. 

What is your most enjoyable business task? 
I love the design side of cookie decorating! While my favorite part is always seeing a customer's reaction to a custom order, the most enjoyable part is coming up with something designed exactly for them. Most of my orders are unique, and centered around someone's personality. I've been fortunate that with most of my business coming from word of mouth and internet recommendations that many people come to me knowing design is my strong suit. I don't do many character cookies or have people bring me specific designs. They usually approach me with a color scheme and details about the person, and let me come up with whatever I want (pending their approval, of course). :)

Does anyone help you with your cookie business or are you a one-woman-show? 
I am a one woman show (with the support of my husband). I would love to have someone help one day when I go full time, but for now, this business is my creative getaway. With 3 kids 6 & under, it is a way to have a much needed creative outlet and help support my family at the same time!

If you could delegate one task, what would it be? 
Washing those dishes, yo! I only have one mixing bowl for my Kitchenaid mixer, so I have to constantly wash in between each stage of cookieing!

Best tip for those starting their cookie business? 
Practice, practice, practice! And check your legalities on the front end. Some places aren't as strict, but I know people personally who have been fined for not following the legal processes in their area. It's more trouble that its worth. Also, do NOT underprice your product. You shouldn't charge less simply because you're new! Your time and your product are valuable. It's much easier to lower your prices if needed than it is to raise them.

How did you get the word out about your business in the beginning?  How do you do it now? 
As I am a small business, I rely completely on Facebook and word of mouth. Since this is a part time venture for me until I can go full time when my kids are older, I don't HAVE to have any orders. I am fortunate that my customers are loyal and supportive, and help spread the word. 

Have you raised your prices since beginning? 
I have, but not in a public format. I'd say 95% of my orders are quoted since they are all custom. I have a base price guide that I let people see to give them a rough idea of what price range they will end up in, but I do not have a specific cookie price. I value my time more than I did a few years ago when my schedule was less hectic, and my quoted prices do reflect that change. 
I will say that I am okay losing a customer if my price is too high. I've done quite a bit of market research, and I do not want to market myself as a budget cookie decorator. I work hard to provide custom products full of thought and precision, and my customer base and pricing reflect that. I always treat each potential client professionally and respectfully, but I won't lower my prices just to get an order.

Any tips for efficiency – in making dough, decorating, shipping, invoicing….anything! 
Planning helps! If you have a complicated design, dissect each step in the design before you begin. Make sure you know if you have a base color that needs to dry before the next step, and have your colors ready to go.
Also, regarding royal icing consistency, I ALWAYS start with a piping consistency in my entire batch of icing. I scoop out about a cup (or more if needed), and put that into a sealed ziploc bag. Then I thin the rest of the icing down to flood consistency. That way I'm not thinning each color, and I always have a piping consistency ready to go! I'd much rather blend one color twice than thin every single color I have down.

Do you have minimums on number of cookies per order, number of designs, number of icing colors?
I have a minimum $50 order. There are no minimums on anything design or quantity related, but the more designs, the higher the price.

What are your cookie dreams?  If you could, would you hire employees, buy a larger mixer, move into a larger space, etc? 
I'd love to have a full time business some day and build a separate cookie kitchen on my own property. I hope that when all of my kids are in school 5 days a week, that I will be able to support my family financially more.

Anything else you’d like to add?
When it comes to business, follow your instinct! If you feel you can't properly complete an order to a customer's satisfaction, or that you're too booked, don't be afraid to say no. And be honest! I have told people why specific suggested designs didn't work, or that I wasn't able to accommodate certain days or certain prices. Sometimes people get upset, but most of the time, they appreciate being treated respectfully and understand that you're the professional. I would far rather someone tell me they couldn't do something the way I wanted and suggest an alternative than to take my money and provide me with a disappointing product. Your attitude and honestly will help make loyal customers.

Also, it doesn't hurt to have a good relationship with competing cookiers. When I was pregnant and dealing with some issues, it was invaluable to have a cookie friend in town that I could recommend to take care of my clients when I was unable. We constantly are sending each other orders and clients, and we both help whenever we can. She has saved me many times, and I do what I can to help her whenever she needs it! 

Happy cookie-ing, y'all! 
Dotty, thanks so much for letting me answer these! I hope it's helpful to some hopeful small business cookie folk.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

That was great!  So much great information there!  Thanks Sam!

Please answer my poll on the left sidebar. I'm curious!

Read more.......
Posts on "Cookiepreneur Interviews"
Posts on "Cookies as Business".
Posts on " Poking Around the Kitchen".
Posts on "Commercial Kitchen"

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Birch Tree Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Birch Tree Stump Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

These were made for a wedding - personalized with the couple's initials.  Perfect for a rustic or country setting wedding reception.

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tour of my Cookie Space

 A Tour of the Commercial Kitchen Space that I use for my Cookie Business

Would you like to poke around the kitchen?  Today I'll show you some  general shots of the space.  We'll poke a little deeper in future posts.

These are the two prep tables.  I use these for making my dough and icing.  I spend the most time in that red chair decorating cookies.

On this day, the table was covered in orders ready to go out - some for pick up, one for shipping.

This is what it looks like as I prepare to make icing.  What a mess.  (Nothing carefully arranged for the photo.  Keeping it real.)

I try to keep extra cookies available for people to taste.   We sometimes get people walking into the bakery - looking for donuts usually. Since everything we do is custom, we don't have items ready for sale.  I'll offer them a cookie.  They just wanted a donut for breakfast.  They got a cookie. 

This small cookie sheet hangs above the prep table.  My business card, Meghan's business card, and Gayla's are up there along with a newspaper clipping featuring little old me.

The long table in the middle of the room is used for my cookie parties.  I roll and cut my dough there.  It's also used for drying cookies overnight.

The metal bowl, on the left?  That's usually in the center of the table, when it's not over-crowded with other things.  It holds the sample designs for an upcoming party.

Hanging above one of the prep tables is a very special cookie cutter.  It's the sign for "I love you".  It was a gift from my younger son for Mother's Day 2014 - just after I started full time at the bakery.

On his way home from college, he and his dad dropped in a shop that carries cutters to find a gift for me.  My B chose this cutter.  *heart melts*

As if that wasn't enough to make this mom teary.  He wrote a little message along the side.  Is this not the perfect gift for a cookieing mom? Best Mother's Day gift ever.

Through these doors is the kitchen.

That's where Gayla and Meghan do most of their work. I use the refrigerator, freezer, sinks and oven over there.

The oven.  *Swoon*

I can bake a lot of cookies at one time!

The curtain.  What's behind the curtain?  Yes, the restroom.  What else?  Not sure that I'll be showing you!  That might be a little too "real".  We'll see.

Please answer my poll on the left sidebar. I'm curious!

Posts on "Cookiepreneur Interviews"
Posts on "Cookies as Business".
Posts on " Poking Around the Kitchen".
Posts on "Commercial Kitchen"

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chat with me - Sugar Dot Cookies

 Live Chat with me on Cookie Connection

Julia Usher is hosting chats with all of the Cookie Con 2015 instructors.  My turn will be August 8, 11 am Eastern.  The chat will be live so we can, um, chat.  :)

If you can't make it, you can post a question for me right now.  I'll answer it during the chat.  You can read the transcript later.  In fact, you can read all of the past transcripts.  Good stuff in there!

Just go to Cookie Connection and post your question now or join me live on August 8th.

You can see past transcripts on the right sidebar there.

Question:  Will I meet you at the chat?

Please answer my poll on the left sidebar. I'm curious!

Read more.......
Posts on "Cookiepreneur Interviews"
Posts on "Cookies as Business".
Posts on " Poking Around the Kitchen".
Posts on "Commercial Kitchen"

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