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

  • July 24, 2018
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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
  • 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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