Baking cookies for a party turned into a full-fledged home cookie business for Mandy Phillips.
It was a last-minute decision to bake and decorate sugar cookies for her daughter’s preschool party that led to Mandy Phillips’ new business, Sugar Britches Cookie Shop. “The business started somewhat by accident,” Mandy says. “I signed up for cookies for her party and initially thought I would order some to take to the party, but every time I tried to order cookies from the person I knew about, they were never available.”
She began researching ways to decorate cookies, and created some Easter-themed sugar cookies for the party. “I have never really done anything like that,” she says. “My children normally sit down at Christmas and decorate sugar cookies, but as far as me decorating cookies to take to a party, I had never done that before.”
Once at the party, Mandy received rave reviews from other guests, prompting her to continue the concept—and even sell them. “Everyone was so nice and encouraging when I brought them. The director at my daughter’s preschool told me she thought they tasted better than some other cookies she had previously ordered, and she also told me I needed to start selling them.”
Mandy started out small and began taking some of her cookie creations to her church, which she often gave away as gifts to people. As word continued to spread about the precision, details, design and, most of all, taste of her cookies, she and her family decided to capitalize on the momentum and form a business.
In May, Mandy obtained her Cottage Food certification, a license which allows her to sell perishable items from her Calera home, and she has spent the last several months creating a variety of cookies for customers. “We are a home-based bakery where everything is made by just me,” she says. “It has been so much fun for us, but it has also gotten a bit crazy with the amount of orders we are receiving. If people want a special, decorated treat for their event, we are happy to provide. The possibilities for decorating are endless.”
According to Mandy, a new trend for many birthday parties or celebrations is to serve decorated sugar cookies instead of, or in addition to, a cake. “People want to have sugar cookies that go with the theme of their event, and in some cases the cookies are replacing a cake, or being requested to go on top of cakes,” she says.
Popular cookie designs have been Mickey Mouse and fiesta themed. And Mandy often hand-cuts her designs if a customer requests something that might not fit a standard cookie cutter.
“I can make anything,” she says. “It is really fun to talk to a customer about an idea or a design and then work to come up with something that they will enjoy.”
One thing that sets Phillips’ cookies apart is the “special” flavor of her cookies. “I use a lemon flavoring for my cookies, so unless you specify, you will get a cookie that has a hint of lemon in it. I have a lot of people tell me that my cookies not only look good, but they taste delicious. I can make a standard sugar cookie dough if customers want that, but they need to tell me that ahead of time.”
She rolls her handmade cookie dough thicker than most sugar cookies, which makes the cookies larger and softer. Once she applies the Royal icing, a hard icing, the cookies become a bit harder in the center, but still remain plenty soft enough to eat.
Mandy likes for customers to order cookies from her at least two weeks in advance. “If it is a design that I wouldn’t already have a cookie cutter for, I would need time to get it in,” she says. “Once I start working on a set, it takes me about two days to get it completed.”
Currently, she works with customers to arrange a pickup time for her cookies. She encourages customers to place their orders with her as soon as possible. “I do get booked since it is just me working on the cookies and I have to set myself a limit,” she says.
Mandy anticipates making the business a full-time venture in the near future. “I have also held two cookie decorating classes for kids,” she adds. “That was a lot of fun, and the kids had a great time. I hope to be able to offer more of those types of things as well.”
Her husband, Keith, and their children, Karsyn, 7, Sadie, 5 and Layla, 11 months, help and enjoy the business as well. “We have been really blessed and have loved every minute of it so far,” she says. “We look forward to seeing where this takes us.”
HOW TO ORDER
Sugar Britches is basically a one-woman operation, so Mandy suggests placing cookie orders with her as soon as possible before an occasion. To place an order or to see Mandy’s creations, visit Sugar Britches Cookie Shop on Facebook or email email@example.com.