Google Sugar Dot Cookies: August 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Tutorial - How to Decorate Oriole and Robin Sugar Cookies

Tutorial - How to Decorate Orioles and Robins with Royal Icing

I love the plump shape of the body for these birds!

Would you like to make these birds with me?

Outline the birds.  Allow to dry for a few minutes before flooding.

Flood the head area with one color and the body with another.  Use a toothpick or boo boo stick to feather the icing colors together.

Pipe a beak.

Either:
Immediately drop a black pearl onto the wet icing for an eye.
Or
Pipe a dot of white icing then drop a black pearl into that for the eye.

Once the base icing has had time to dry, pipe wings on top.
To make the feathers:
Pipe lines across the wing.
Using a toothpick or boo boo stick, drag the icing in an upwards direction, through the lines.


Pipe lines for the tail feathers.
Done!


Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Interview with Sweet Naomi Cookies on Cookies as Business

 Cookiepreneur Interview with Amanda from Sweet Naomis Cookies

How many ways can you have a cookie business?  Let us count them!  Here's the third installment of Cookiepreneur Interviews.  Let's hear about Amanda's cookie business!

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How long have you been in business?   Is it part-time or full-time? 
Unofficially started in 2013 and finally got all my paperwork in order to be 'legit' in 2014.  Technically, I'm part-time but it really depends on the week/season.  :)  I suppose the best answer to this is that I try to be part-time.  

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?
For sugar cookies, a state inspected kitchen is required or you can operate under the Cottage Food laws (with restrictions).  That is my understanding anyway!  I use my home kitchen which is state inspected.


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 use my home kitchen and getting it approved involved getting a zoning permit from my county then getting an inspection from the VA Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 
How I manage our kitchen for both the business and family....hmm, is that a trick question?  ;) Honestly, there's no good answer to this.  Just really late nights and lots of coffee.   

Do you ship cookies?  If so, please tell us about that.
Yes!  I started selling on Etsy, so I started out shipping most of my orders.  Only once I started getting more local orders did I realize how much more work shipping entails (because decorated cookies aren't labor intensive enough....ha)!  We've tried different ways of shipping and found that using copious amounts of bubble wrap and shipping them upright (not flat) works best.  I don't always do that though as I've found that it sometimes depends on the cookie shape and amount I'm shipping.


Does your business include anything else other than taking custom decorated cookie orders?
Just decorated cookies for us, for now.   

What is your most enjoyable business task?
Decorating!  


Does anyone help you with your cookie business or are you a one-woman-show?
I definitely have help, I couldn't possibly do it myself.  My husband does deliveries and helps make the dough and baking and my oldest son helps with packaging. 

If you could delegate one task, what would it be?
Clean up!  I didn't even have to think about that one...  :)

Best tip for those starting their cookie business?
Make sure your business works for you and not against you.  If you do quality work, you will get busy fast so don't be afraid to invest in whatever will make the business more efficient.  


How did you get the word out about your business in the beginning?  How do you do it now?
Honestly, I've never done much with marketing.  Starting on Etsy helped me get initial orders in but after about a year I took my listings down as now most of my orders are local through my website, referrals, and repeat customers. 

Have you raised your prices since beginning?
Yes.  And this is an area that I'm still adjusting to see what works best. 

Any tips for efficiency – in making dough, decorating, shipping, invoicing….anything!
I don't, actually.  I wish I did, I could use it!  My best tip for efficiency is to keep your inner perfectionist to a bare minimum.  Remember that most (not all!) customers aren't going to scrutinize and judge the cookies the way you do.

Do you have minimums on number of cookies per order, number of designs, number of icing colors?
Yes, sort of, and yes!  12 cookies is my minimum, I don't mind different designs so long as they use the same colors, and I try to keep it at 2 colors (plus white) per dozen.  If I get an inquiry for something that I know will be a lot of colors, I'll either up the minimum cookie order or charge extra.



What are your cookie dreams?  If you could, would you hire employees, buy a larger mixer, move into a larger space, etc?
My cookie dream is to decorate cookies in a super cute, sunny kitchen with cookies already baked, icing bagged/bottled in perfect consistencies (and they never separate!!), they magically bag and ship themselves, and my kids clean up the mess.   It's nice to cookie dream.  :)    


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Thanks so much for sharing Amanda!  I hope this post has encouraged you or given you some new things to think about regarding your business or soon-to-be-business!

You can find her on facebook, instagram, and her 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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Friday, August 21, 2015

Beach Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - Beach theme


Summer cookies!  We have flip flops, fish, beach balls and sunglasses.

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bake to Defeat ALS

 #BaketoDefeatALS

Remember the ice bucket challenge last year to raise money for the ALS Association?  How could you not!?


This year, bakers have taken on a different challenge – “Bake to Defeat ALS”. 
 

My friend Amy from Clough'D 9 Cookies  nominated me to participate.  In honor of Anita from Sweet Hope Cookies and her brother Randy, I made these “Take a Bite out of ALS” decorated cookies and have made a donation. 
The ALSA provides invaluable services and equipment to people with ALS and of course they support research that will someday find a cure.   Please visit ALSA.org to learn how you can take part in the challenge or to make a donation.  Please help spread the word about #BaketoDefeatALS!  
  
Thanks so much!  


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Washington, DC Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - Capitol Building and Jefferson Memorial


Usually I make these DC cookies with a blue sky for the background.  This was a fun change!

Love the patriotic red, white, and blue!



 Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sugar Cookies for the Bridal Party

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - Bridesmaid dresses, engagement rings, save the date calendars, flower girl dresses
 

In blush and gold.  Makes for a pretty nice set!

These were individually bagged to hand out as the bride asked her friends and family to be in the wedding party.

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hawaiian Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - pineapples, tropical flowers and "Aloha"


This was a fun set to decorate!  It's always fun to do different designs than the usual.


Pineapples, tropical flowers, and "Aloha" on small rounds.

Feels like being on a Hawaiian beach!


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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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tutorial - How to Ship Sugar Cookies

 Tutorial - How to Pack Cookies for Shipping

Shipping sugar cookies is possible when they're packed well!  I was terrified of shipping and resisted for quite some time.  To expand my business, I finally decided to give it a try.

Thankfully I have two cookie friends, Amy and Cindy, that answered my questions and encouraged me!

*knock on wood* I've had great success with cookies arriving to my customers intact.

Here's what you need to do..........

First, read my blog post on How to Bag Cookies for Shipping.

To recap that post . . . Place your cookies in individual favor bags.  Heat-seal the bags about 1" above the cookies.  DO NOT TIE THEM WITH RIBBON.  Yes, that's important enough for all caps.  If you tie them first, the gathered bags take up too much room in the box and don't allow the cookies to rest up against each other as nicely for support.  Include ribbon in the box for your customer to tie.


Cut strips of bubble wrap, about as wide as your cookies are tall.


Line the bottom of your bakery box with long strips of bubble wrap, the width of your box.  Place one strip across the box, then the second strip in the opposite direction, like a +.  Leave one of the strips long enough to be folded over the top of the cookies and tucked in the other side.  The second strip needs to be just long enough to fold over the top of the cookies.



Fold the tops of the favor bags over to the back of the cookies.  Place rows of cookies, standing up, with a narrow strip of bubble wrap between each row.

You want the cookies to be tightly packed in there.  Well, somewhat tightly.  They need to rest up against each other for support.  You don't want them moving around in the box.

(Not sure why I don't have a second long strip of bubble wrap lining the bottom of the box below!)


If the box isn't completely full of cookies, fill any empty space with tissue paper or bubble wrap.

Once all of your cookies are in the box, fold those long, bottom strips of bubble wrap over them.  Tuck the wrap into the opposite site.

Give the box a little shake.   No movement of cookies?  Good.

Include curling ribbon, business cards, and ingredient/allergy information.  (Want to cut ribbon quickly?  Check out this tutorial.)


If there's empty space between the wrap and the top of the box, add more bubble wrap.

Close the lid.  Give it a shake.  Turn the box upside down.  You shouldn't feel any movement.  If you do, add more wrap or tissue.


Add a business sticker and tie bakery twine around the box.


Place crumbled paper on the bottom of the shipping box.

Place the bakery box on top of the paper.


Place crumbled paper strips around all four sides of the bakery box.  You don't want the inner box to move and you want cushioning between boxes should anything happen to the outer box.  (I use whatever I have handy for all of this - bubble wrap, packing paper, air pillows, etc.)


Fill the top space with more packing material.  Remember the goal - No movement.


Seal up the box.  Done.


NOTES:  


* I use USPS Priority Mail with insurance.  There's some debate over whether the PO will honor insurance for broken cookies.  I figure that I'd rather be safe than sorry.  They may not pay out for a few or many broken cookies, but I assume that they will pay out if (*gasp*) the box goes missing or gets run over by a truck.

* I ship only sturdy shaped cookies.  I won't ship anything with narrow, fragile parts like crabs, wine glasses, flowers with stems, etc.

* I make sure that my customers understand that there is a risk to shipping cookies.  Broken cookies are a possibility.  I ask them to take this into consideration when deciding on the number of cookies to order.  A shipping policies page on your website is a good idea.

* You can weigh the box and print a shipping label at home or take it to the post office.

* Record the weight of the entire shipping box and what cookies are included inside.  Later, when giving a shipping quote to a customer, you can scroll through past shipments to get an idea of what an order will weigh.  (Thanks to Cindy for this tip!)

* To calculate postage, go here on the USPS website.  I charge the actual shipping rate, plus a few dollars for insurance.  Then I round it up and add a dollar or two to cover just a fraction of my supply costs.

Materials I use......
10" x 10" x 5" bakery boxes from BRP Box Shop - If that box is too large, I have some that are 8"x 8" x 4" that I picked up at a local bakery supply store.
12" x 12" x 8", #7, Priority box from USPS
Cello Bags from Gifts International

If you need to use two 10" x 10" bakery boxes for the cookies, then use a 12" x 12" x 12" outer shipping box.  I pick those up at the local UPS store.  Unfortunately you have to pay for those, about $3 each.

Any questions on shipping cookies?  Let me know in the comments.  I'd be happy to answer.

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

Cookies are available for order through my website.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tutorial - How to Package Sugar Cookies for Shipping

 How to Bag Sugar Cookies for Shipping

You can see how I bag cookie favors for local pick up here.  Cookies are bagged slightly differently when they are to be shipped.

When shipping cookies, ask your customer if the cookies will be going onto a platter at the party or if the cookies are to remain in the favor bags at the party.

If the cookies will be removed from the bags and placed on a platter, heat-seal the bags closed directly above the cookies and cut the bags short.

I use a 12" Impulse Heat Sealer with cutter.

If the cookies are to remain in the favor bags, here is what I do.........


Seal the bags about 1" above the cookie.  That way the sealed line will be hidden once the curling ribbon is tied.

Add a sticker to the backs of the bags with your business information.


Include ribbon for your customer to tie once the package arrives.  See here for how to cut ribbon quickly!

I used to tie the ribbon myself before shipping.  The gathered bags and the top tails took up so much room in the box!  I couldn't fit as many cookies as I wanted.  One day, it finally occurred to me to NOT tie the bags prior to shipping.

NOT tying the bags yourself is one of the best tips I have for shipping cookies!


Include business cards and ingredient information in case anyone has allergy issues.


Below is a box of cookie favors, tied, ready for local pick up.  Look at those long bags!  Imagine if this was for shipping.  The long bags would have to be turned sideways.  I wouldn't have been able to fit all of these cookies into one bakery box. 


Below is a box of cookies ready for shipping.  The long favor bags were folded to the back.  Many more cookies can fit into the box AND the cookies can rest up against each other nicely for support.


Your cookies are bagged up and ready to be boxed.  How to pack and ship them?  Check out this tutorial on shipping cookies.

If your cookies are to be picked up or delivered locally, I bag the cookies differently.  You can see that tutorial here.

Question for you: How do you bag cookies for shipping?  Anything the same or different?   Let us know in the comments.   Thanks!

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link to the Impulse Heat Sealer. I receive a small commission on purchases through this link.  I appreciate your support!



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

Cookies are available for order through my website.
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