Bake or Eat Sweets is a local bakery that specializes in decorated cookies. The cookies are personalized and pre-packaged. The owner, Elena Morales, has been making cookies as a hobby for years and never thought it would turn into a business. Even after many hopeful attempts, she hated making cookies compared to her usual cake pops and cupcake. On a whim, Morales bought royal icing from a decorating shop and decided to try cookies one more time and she loved it. She found a way to make her hobby a personalized business and source of income. She runs her business primarily through Facebook, along with emails and phone calls. She had an Etsy store but abandoned it because she preferred to stay local. An added bonus to being local is she delivers all her cookies. “The best part is delivering them and talking to my customers. I get the best customers, such nice people,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how much it makes my day for them to love what I make for them. For you to go out of your way to contact me after trying the cookies to tell me how awesome they are is the best feeling in the world.”
Her business has been successful with the help and support of her family and fiancé, Brian. Her mother used to create and sell wedding cakes and her father is self-employed so he has been able to help her with the business side and financials. Her fiancé has purchased some of the supplies she needs, like her baking rack and airbrush machine. To further aid in her success, she previously worked at a boutique that specialized in the personalization of items, like monograms and embroideries. Being involved with this audience, she was able to establish her own target audience and personalize her business around what the people want.
The cookies she creates are intricate and complicated; plus, her canvases range from a one-inch cookie to a three-inch cookie. She creates cookies for bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and other events. Morales was asked if there was anything she wanted people to know about her or her business and she replied, “I’m pretty vocal on the fact that I can do whatever you want me to do, like literally, send me a picture and I can make it. I can do custom monograms, wedding, baby shower, I even do portraits on cookies.” Some of the cookies she has made are Ariel from the Little Mermaid, Minnie Mouse, a company’s logo, a pumpkin spice latte, and Pokémon characters. She brought a cookie to the interview and when the bag opened the sweet smell of sugar cookies rose. It was like Christmastime, the smell of happiness, cookies, and warmth. The cookie was decorated perfectly and it felt like a crime to eat something that was so well done. The cookie she brought was a teapot that had “Eat me” written on it along with edible glitter.
She grew up an artist and transferred her talent from paint to cookies. She used to paint pop art and had a tent at Art Walk one evening and did not make one sale. She was part of the art club and has been recognized for her artistic abilities. Having art as her primary love and talent has been the foundation for the decorated cookies.
Morales is running her business under the Florida Cottage Food Law, which states, according to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, she can operate her business from her home, she must have properly packaged and labeled goods, and make less than $15,000 a year. Her cookies fall under this law because they are not time or temperature controlled or potentially hazardous foods. Her cookies are fresh in their packages for 2 weeks and can be stored frozen and then defrosted.
She was recently a vendor at the Orange Park Town Hall Fall Festival, a two-day festival, and was only left with 20 cookies out of the 250 she made. Bake or Eat Sweets has been thriving as a small business, so what would be the next step? Next, Morales would like to have a commercial kitchen but stay online because she likes connecting with her customers. She is currently enrolled in the business bachelor’s program at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) to help expand her business.
The name, Bake or Eat Sweets had a unique beginning, “Oh it’s so funny, that Facebook page for Bake or Eat Sweets has had so many names. When I finally wanted to change my name, I literally posted on Facebook, ‘hey what should my new cookie page name be?’ I got so many responses…and a friend posted Bake or Eat Sweets and it clicked with me.” Morales liked the idea when the name was said fast it sounded like baker eat sweets, which is one of her favorite activities.
Bake or Eat Sweets can be found on Facebook by searching Bake or Eat Sweets, which will then lead to Morales’ email and phone number to place orders.