A mum-of-two from Texas who rediscovered her passion for baking after relocating to the Granite City has started up her own sugar cookie business.
Kelly Breese, from Houston in Texas, launched her business Cookie Cookie after rediscovering her passion for baking during the pandemic.
She relocated from her hometown to Aberdeen with her husband, Jordan, and their two daughters Kennedy, two, and five-month-old Henley, just nine days before the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.
Kelly was made redundant from the oil and gas industry before the move.
Lockdown gave the avid baker plenty of opportunity to think up a business strategy, although a baking firm was not the first thing to spring to mind.
Kelly said: “After graduating from university in the States, I started my career in oil and gas, where I was in human resources for five years.
“With the downturn in the market, I was laid off and decided it was time to go my own path. My first step into entrepreneurialism was starting up my professional organisation business.
“I loved working for myself, being creative, and, most importantly, working my own hours. In 2019 I had our first daughter, Kennedy, and quickly switched to full-time mum mode.
“Shortly after Kennedy was born, we made the decision to move to Aberdeen to raise her and continue to grow our family here. A few months after we uprooted to Scotland, we welcomed Henley at the end of 2020.”
Inspired by family
Having always been interested in baking, Kelly was inspired by her Aunt’s skill of creating artistic sugar cookies as a youngster, and decided to try her hand at mastering them once again as an adult.
“Growing up, I always had an interest in baking and cooking,” Kelly added.
“I used to take culinary arts summer classes, watch the Food Network on television constantly and was always in the kitchen with my family.
“My aunt used to make hand-iced sugar cookies for friends and family when I was younger. Watching her get to use her creativity and make these amazing, delicious treats for events was always exciting. I was never any good at it growing up, but I always thought one day I would give it a try.
“During pregnancy and the many sleepless nights of having a newborn, I would find myself watching endless videos by cookie decorators.
“After around a year of lockdown restrictions with a rambunctious toddler, I needed a mental and creative outlet to break up the groundhog day feeling so I started recipe research for both my cookie dough and the icing – spending months fine-tuning it to my liking, and worked endlessly on decorating techniques.
“I finally felt confident that I could produce something delicious and I thought to myself, ‘let’s give it a try!’.”
A batch made in heaven
A lover of southern food due to her roots, Kelly has long-term business goals which include possibly opening her own food truck one day, however, is in the meantime, steering all of her focus towards Cookie Cookie.
The talented baker produces custom-decorated royal iced sugar cookie boxes – currently available in an original flavour – and cookie cakes that have proved extremely popular.
“Right now I have kept it simple and delicious,” she said.
“I created a recipe I loved and wanted to make sure the original was a hit before I expanded too quickly. I have tried a variety of other flavours, and I must say, they are good. I am hoping to announce other flavour options in both cookies and cookie cakes in the next few months.
My whole goal of this business was and is to make delicious and creative treats that would bring a smile to people’s faces.”
“After I perfected my recipe, thought of a name I liked, waited for the council’s approval and had a rough business plan, I officially launched on Thursday, April 1 this year.
“I thought that this type of treat (sugar cookies) was something that just was not offered here. There are similar types of cookies, usually decorated with fondant icing, but none quite like mine in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire.
“Being from somewhere different, I was able to bring a unique recipe that many people have not really had here. I often get asked, ‘what is a sugar cookie?’, so I saw the opportunity to get into the market before it became a trend like it is in the States.
“Our current offerings are custom decorated sugar cookie sets (by the dozen) and 12-inch single layer or double layer cookie cakes decorated with custom sugar cookies. But we may have a few more items on the menu by the end of the year.
“I’m also hoping to get my products in a select few cafes and farm shops in the near future, too.”
Despite starting up a business in a new city, Kelly, who lives in Aberdeen, says she is “very proud” of her products.
“I am proud of how quickly this little business has grown and the amazing feedback I’ve received so far,” Kelly added.
“My whole goal of this business was and is to make delicious and creative treats that would bring a smile to people’s faces. Keeping the business side simple.
“No fuss on fancy logos, or gimmicky marketing campaigns – just a yummy product that would create a buzz and allow this little cookie company to grow organically. I think I have achieved that, but I continue to strive to improve every day.
“Each cookie I decorate takes an average of two-to-three hours per cookie, so it is a lot.
“I can’t thank the amazing foodie community here enough – and social media. I have asked friends to spread the word about Cookie Cookie and walked to cafes, parks and farm shops telling them all about my cookies.
“I use social media as much as I can to post pictures of my work to show my abilities, attended farmers’ markets so I can meet people face-to-face, and have donated cookies to a local school auction to help out.
“The rest has really been word of mouth as the product’s reputation has grown.”
Community is key
And Kelly says family and community is at the heart of what she is offering, finding support from others in the local food scene.
“I work hard and try to put my all into everything I do, so finding the balance between being self-employed and being a full-time mum is proving to be very interesting,” said Kelly.
“My main goal for Cookie Cookie is to grow it slow and steady without sacrificing on quality.
Things like STAXX and the Bon Accord pop-up markets are very exciting and offer hope and opportunity to small business owners like myself.”
“I take limited custom orders, and I am selective of the farmers’ markets I do attend – as family means everything to me and I want to make sure that I am always present in my daughters’ daily lives.
“I am very excited to be starting Cookie Cookie during this time. It seems our generation is coming together to try and bring a new, vibrant food scene to Aberdeen, and will hopefully assist in rebooting the economy.
“Things like STAXX and the Bon Accord pop-up markets are very exciting and offer hope and opportunity to small business owners like myself. There is a comradery that I have noticed across the food group here.
“People support others, share on social media, collaborate every chance they get and genuinely want to see others thrive. The community feel is incredible.”