How to start a small custom cookie business

Where it started

Have you wanted to start a small custom cookie business? This is how it happened for me.

I have always been in the kitchen cooking, experimenting, and serving my family and friends. I am naturally an artistic person, so I often find that this spills over into my cooking and baking as well.

I love baking, probably more than I like cooking meals. Whenever there is a special occasion, potluck, or event; my contribution is always baked goods.

Every Christmas I make hundreds of cookies (this is no exaggeration). My husband is in sales, so we usually go around during the Christmas season and deliver his clients a box of Christmas cookies. For the kids I do a cookie decorating kit. For his work functions, I make big platters of decorated Christmas cookies.

Woman baking Christmas cookies

How my small custom cookie hobby turned into a money making business

About a year ago, I started getting requests for decorated cookies for events. This was just from people who I had given decorated cookies to in the past. I was by no means a professional baker or cookie decorator, I am just a stay-at-home mom who likes to bake for fun! I didn’t know how much to charge, how to package my product, give receipts, basically I knew nothing about how to start a small custom cookie business. But, I thought it would be a fun thing to do during nap-time. So, I took my first order.

I have never advertised, I still don’t have a company name or website, but I continue to be busy with orders! All my orders come from people seeing my product!

What Has this taught me about how to start a small custom cookie business?

Give things away!

This may be hard to hear. When you start a business you do it to make money, right? Giving things away for free really puts your name out there. It helps get your product out on a larger scale. People love getting things for free! Chances are they would think of you if they were looking for that product again, since they already had a good experience!

There are so many opportunities to get yourself out there. Our town often has free events. I’m sure your town does as well, or one near by. For Family Day, there was a free event at the community centre, for children. They had things like meet the critters, magic shows, free hot chocolate, popcorn, and games outside. As a small custom cookie business, what a great way to advertise! For myself, I would set up a ‘Decorate Your Own Cookie’ booth! For the business you have, you may be able to do something similar!

For example, last year at our towns fair, there was a lovely lady doing beautiful face painting, for free! She was so busy! Never, did I see her booth without a line! All the parents chatted with her and were so grateful.

This year at the fair, she charged for her booth. She was just as busy. So many people remembered her by name, and chatted with her! I have seen her on the list of vendors for so many events around our area. So, her first year at the fair sure has paid off!

Take Chances and believe in yourself

When I was first approached to do paid orders, I could have easily said, I’m not a professional, there is no way I could do that. You have to believe in your abilities!

Take whatever chances come your way! For some reason, the lions-share of my orders are always big orders. This week I am working on an order of 200 cookies for an anniversary party! This seems daunting, right? Jump in and give it a go! You will never grow or know what you are capable of unless you stretch yourself!

Real estate custom decorated cookies

Watch your Spending

Only buy the supplies you absolutely need to get started! It is so tempting to go out and buy all the fun things that are associated with your business, I get it!

Keep track of the money you are spending verses the money you are making! Actually record it! For every business there are countless gadgets, toys, and supplies that are available. You don’t need them all right away!

Ways to save money when you start a small custom cookie business

  1. I look for cookie cutters at thrift stores, garage sales, discount sections at craft stores.
  2. I buy my supplies in bulk, or stock up when they are on sale.
  3. I use things I already own. For example, I didn’t go out and buy a fancy rolling pin with thickness measurements, a turntable, or a scribe. I don’t own a heat sealer, or an airbrush.
  4. Try to find cheaper options. To package individual cookies most professionals use a heat sealer. Instead I use sports card protectors. They are the perfect size and they have a sticker seal!

Once you see that this is something you will be doing long-term, and only once you make enough money to justify it, then you can look into buying bigger more expensive items. If possible.

Gather knowledge

There are so many people that have come before you, who have so much more experience than you. Use that! Ask questions, watch videos, listen to podcasts, take classes, collaborate with other people!

Most importantly, get your own experience! There is no better way to learn than by doing. Start doing as much as possible. Get your hands on as much as you can, practice is what is going to give you the most knowledge. Take as many jobs, or orders, as you can! Keep practicing! Then you can share your knowledge!

Custom decorated and wrapped dental office anniversary sugar cookies.

Love it!

You have to enjoy what you are doing. I love coming up with ideas for clients! It allows me to use my creativity, which I love! It is something I would do for free, and still do for free, just because I love doing it! Make sure you follow your passion and enjoy what you do!

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