The holidays are traditionally a popular time for decorating cookies with loved ones. But a Worcester Regional Food Hub member is taking this oftentimes seasonal activity year-round with her business.
The path to becoming a small business owner and professional “cookier” (as in: a baker who makes cookies) wasn’t a straight and clear one for Veronica Adams. A 2008 graduate of Worcester State University with degrees in biology, chemistry, and Spanish; Ms. Adams worked in a lab for eight years at a biopharmaceutical company.
Years into her career, she started considering a major change. “I realized I wasn’t feeling completely fulfilled all the time in terms of what I was doing, so I started soul searching,” she recalled. Ms. Adams spent two years contemplating her options, trying to get to the root of what it was she really wanted to do.
Baking was something she’d always enjoyed — so much so, she would bring baked goods to her coworkers regularly. Wowed by her tasty treats, they would encourage her to open a bakery, but that wasn’t of interest to Ms. Adams. Recognizing that she “liked the low pressure of baking for [coworkers]” and her favorite part was decorating cupcakes, Ms. Adams thought she could try her hand at decorating sugar cookies.
After taking some decorating classes — and discovering her talent for it — Veronica decided to open a cookie business.
She established The Cookie Lady’s Daughter (TCLD) at the end of 2018, developing it part time while still working at her biopharma job full time. About a year-and-a-half later, she was able to take TCLD full time.
“The Cookie Lady’s Daughter” name is a tribute to her mother, Sue Adams, who taught Veronica how to bake when she was young. One of five children, Veronica remembers how her stay-at-home mom would go to their father’s place of work with all siblings in tow to deliver dozens of cookies. The drop-offs became a weekly affair, and Sue became known around the office as “The Cookie Lady.”
“She was an amazing mom, but that was another aspect of her life where she was able to spread joy so easily to people by just bringing them freshly-baked cookies,” Veronica said. “So, when I decided to open this business, I wanted to make sure my mom was included in some way.”
At first, TCLD specialized in custom cookie orders for events, then geared toward selling decorated cookies at markets. Now, Ms. Adams is taking the business in a different direction: focusing on cookie decorating events and take-home activities.
TCLD offers DIY decorating kits (six cookies, three bags of icing, sprinkles, and photo of decorated cookies for inspiration), paint your own cookies (cookie with a stenciled image like a coloring page that comes with an edible paint palette), “Sip and Ice” nights (cookie decorating classes taught by Ms. Adams at local businesses like Redemption Rock Brewery and Sail to Trail Wine Works), and other cookie decorating classes for corporate events and team bonding activities (which she’s done virtually to engage a company’s remote employees).
“I think the cookie activities get people more involved,” Ms. Adams said of the decision to take her business in this decorating direction. “People are so proud of themselves when they’re done decorating cookies. Kids will come up to me at cookie events to show me the cookie when they’re done decorating — and that’s the feeling I really do this for, [as opposed to] them eating a cookie that I decorated.”
Eventually outgrowing her residential kitchen in Millbury, Ms. Adams gave the Food Hub a call to express her business’ need for more kitchen space and larger ovens. “The Food Hub really enabled me to scale up and produce more so I could reach more customers,” Ms. Adams said of becoming a member. Additionally, their expanded hours “made it a lot easier to run my business while still doing my corporate job.”
Ms. Adams also cited the access to a network of other local bakers as a benefit. Moreover, she said the availability of resources for food entrepreneurs like info on wholesale and pop-up events are helpful. “Sometimes, when you own a business, it can be very lonely. So knowing that I have a little circle I can reach out to is great,” said Ms. Adams.
Dominique Goyette-Connerty is the Director of Communications at the Worcester Chamber. She can be reached by email here.
This story was originally published in the November 2021 edition of Chamber Exchange: The Newspaper, a quarterly publication of the Chamber. All newspaper editions are archived here.