Lessons Learned About Self-Care After Starting a Baking Business and Failing

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I’ve always been a baker. For as long as I can remember, the art of measuring and sifting cups of flour has brought my spirit so much peace. From meticulous egg cracking to attentively creaming butter and sugar together, I have come to look at this practice—yes, baking is a practice—as a time of self-care and solitude. 

Baking as Self Care: Chocolate Chip CookiesMy first baking accomplishment was the basic, chocolate chip cookie. A simple recipe that, at the time, I didn’t realize would become a fan-favorite amongst my family and friends. I followed the recipe to the letter, making sure to correctly measure, chop and gently fold the ingredients into the mixture. There was something therapeutic about stirring these ingredients—all with different textures, smells and looks—together to make something cohesive and undoubtedly delectable.

And the scent. If you ask me what the most wonderful scent in the world is, I’d tell you without hesitation that it will always be the smell of freshly baked cookies, still warm from the oven. 

Cookies, I came to realize, are a powerful thing.

I was fascinated with the power that a fresh plate of cookies could hold. It brought old friends, new friends, complete strangers together, if only for a moment, to share in a moment of complete joy. With each bite, I watched others come together, and my heart would explode with excited glee.

Baking as Self-Care: Cake decorating

Baking as Self-Care: Cake Decorating with Frosting

At 17, I started my first entrepreneurial endeavor with my baking skills. I sold freshly made cookie dough in tubs and chewy cookies of all sorts—sugar, peanut-butter, oatmeal-cranberry, and of course, chocolate chip. My parents supported me by providing the funds—I made close to nothing at my part time job—and clients. They brought the order forms to work and their colleagues did their part to support my ambitious venture. I made close to $400 that month—just in time for the Christmas season!

But it was then that I realized baking for profit was harder than I thought. Most orders were done with care and precision, cookies baked and packaged neatly in their tins. But some—let’s just say they were lacking in the precision and care departments. A few mixed orders here, and some under stirred cookie dough there—my first attempt at a real business wasn’t at all a smooth one. Thankfully, no peanut butter allergies were exacerbated in the process.

Sometimes, that’s all you can really hope for.

Baking as Self-Care: Flour on Knee

Baking as Self-Care: Flour on Hands

I took away the fact that I enjoyed baking simply for the purpose of serving others. No contracts, cash payments, time constraints necessary. Baking, I decided, was my preferred method of self-care. The act of giving away my baking, another. 

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are a crowd favorite of all my friends and family! My god-sister says these are "man-catching" cookies. It hasn't worked so far, but I'm hopeful! This simple recipe is sure to be a hit for your next potluck or after-dinner (or before) dessert. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 dozen
Author Leighann

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter unsalted, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar packed dark brown
  • 1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 12 oz package of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine and stir dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt) together. 

  3. In a separate bowl, using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together until creamy. Add eggs, beating them in well. 

  4. Add dry mixture into the creamy mixture, using a cup measure to gradually stir in. Mix well until all flour is combined into wet ingredients.

  5. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (optional). Drop about 2 tbsp of dough onto un-greased baking sheet about an inch and a half apart. 

  6. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned at the top. Remove from sheet to wire cooling rack. Allow to set for 5-10 minutes before enjoying!

Baking as Self-Care: Cake Decorating White Frosting and Hydrangeas Baking as Self-Care: Cake Decorating White Frosting and Hydrangeas

I think recognizing our capacities as human beings is a skill that takes a lifetime to fully develop. But what a privilege it is once we discover it. Perhaps I will realize my dream to become a baker, own a shop and actualize it one day. For now, you can bet I’ll be here, creating and following recipes to share with my loved ones and strangers alike. 

Baking Cookbooks I Recommend:


Sally’s Baking Addiction


Cookie Love: More Than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary


Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing (vegan recipes)

The Baking Bible

14 Comments
Leighann

Twenty-something, lover of Jesus. I like animals (esp. dogs), Fun-Fetti cupcakes and yoga. I love God and do my best to love others. I hate too-warm weather and socks that fall into your shoes when you walk. I'm a huge fan of Christian rap and cold, sunny days.

Previous Post
July 24, 2018

14 Comments

  • Lily

    Wow, congrats on having an entrepreneurial spirit at such a young age! I too love baking for friends and family, and they often tell me I should start a cake business, but I don’t think they’re aware of how much goes into running a business. It would take away from the joy I get from baking. I hope your dream comes true one day!

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Thanks so much Lily! I think I get it from my parents’ work ethic and drive! I hope yours does too, whatever it turns out to be.

  • Heather

    I never thought about it before, but cookies really are a powerful thing! I’m an atrocious baker, but I love the smell of fresh bread more than anything!

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Oh, fresh bread is definitely high on the best smells in the world list!

  • Jennifer

    Oh my! I love chocolate chip cookies AND ghirardelli chocolate!! 🙂 I gotta try this recipe of yours! Thank you for sharing this recipe and keep up with that motivation <3

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Me too, lovely! Yes, please do try and let me know how it goes! Thanks so much, Jennifer 🙂

  • Abbi

    Thank you for sharing your journey! Your cookies look great!

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Thanks so much, Abbi! They tasted pretty good too lol

  • Kate

    I really admire your candor here. So many people sweep their failures under the rug, but you posted yours online!

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      I find being real, is easier than faking it, you know? Thanks, Kate!

  • Austen Tosone

    This is such a cool story. I also love the power of a good cookie, and baking can be so calming in a way.
    -Austen

  • Briana

    Good for you! I definitely learned to build on failures

    Briana

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Thanks, Briana–it’s a growing process–no need to be ashamed of it!

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  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 16 𝑜𝒻 31

Hot. No, it’s not what you think. As a matter of fact, when I first saw this picture I was horrified. I saw all that was wrong with my body, my hair and my skin—ugh. 
But you know what? No one’s perfect. And thank God I don’t have to be. Plus, my body was/is working just fine, my hair was moisturized, and my skin was poppin’. Trying to shift my moments of self-doubt and body-consciousness to thankfulness and positive self-talk. 
Also, the day this was taken was HOT, so it still counts towards today’s #augusteyecandy.

I don’t know if anyone’s told you today, but you’re made splendidly and you couldn’t be more perfect than you are right now—yes, even in this heat with your mascara running down your face. ttys 
S/O to @kayzilch and/or her awesome fiancé, Michael for this pic 📸
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 14 𝑜𝒻 31

5pm. 
It’s crazy to think that I’ve actually posted one picture on IG for TWO weeks straight. Especially considering all that’s been going on around me: moving back across the country for school, moving into my new place, actually starting school, remembering how to (somewhat) adult—throw in a little bit of anxiety, and you’ve got yourself the past two weeks of my life. 
All that to say—we made it, folks. We made it to today. And that is enough. You’re doing great—ttys
  • TW: Anxiety/Panic Attack

Anxiety is like a shadow that’s been following me around since I was about thirteen. I guess puberty marked the onset of racing thoughts, subtle hyperventilation and that queasy feeling you get when something’s just not right. I had my first panic attack at nineteen, during a new hire orientation. It felt like I was having a heart attack—my heart inexplicably began to race, my hands shook and I felt warmth all around me. 
I excused myself to the reception area and, in a panic, asked the receptionist if she could help me. She said to place my hands above my head and breathe. I paced around the lobby and breathed, eyes closed. Inhale. Exhale. I worried for a moment that I would die. Then gradually, my heart began to beat at normal pace again. My breathing deepened and my body cooled down to normal as I continued to pace, slower this time. The kind receptionist gave me some water to sip and sat me down until I was ready to go back to the meeting. 
Anxiety can feel like a high-speed train. Going 5mph one minute and 150 mph the next. It can also be subtler, feeling like you can’t quite catch your breathe and you begin to hyperventilate, in a way that is only recognizable to you. 
Although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, anxiety has taught me the importance of coming back to the present. And how allowing myself to feel what is presently around me, can ground me and remind me that I’m alive. I’m safe. 
I share this story in order to start the conversation. Anxiety is a part of my life, whether I like it or not. I hope you know that first of all:

1. You are loved beyond measure and valuable even with your anxious thoughts and actions 
and 
2. You are not the only one 
ttys
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 13 𝑜𝒻 31

Home. For now anyways—is Georgia. The most asked question I get lately has been “Well? Are you gonna stay out there, or move back to California?” So, to help answer anyone’s burning question about my plans for the future, here it is:

Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s just get this last year down and then talk specifics, shall we? Here’s to one of my last first days of school. 
To my fellow cohorts: May we grow. May we care for ourselves and others a little better each day. May we get up the hills to our classes in one piece #UGA
  • Wait, I can’t believe summer is over and I officially start my last year of my MSW program tomorrow! What is life? Time is flying by, and I’m just trying to soak up every moment ☀️
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 12 𝑜𝒻 31

Sunday morning. 
Mmmm, tacos 🌮 so far, I’m learning to enjoy this new life stage: also known as adulting. I’ll admit, at times it’s a little scary and a whole lot of trial and error, but I know it’s all a part of the plan—even if it sometimes feels like nothing is going according to plan 🤷🏾‍♀️ #adulting am I right? 
Faking it ‘til I make it since ‘92.

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