An entry from Christine's journal, dated June 9, 2023.
I'm not one to make a big fuss out of my birthday, but this Sunday, being the turn of another decade of life, I can't help but feel some of the sentiment that often comes with growing older. So here's a little cookie business check-in, as I go into 3 years of running Christine's Cookie Co. and 30 years of life, reflecting on my identity as not only a small business owner, but also a baker.
A trip down memory lane
When I was 4 years old, I wrote in my pre-school yearbook: "I'm going to be a baker when I grow up." 4 year old Christine had no idea what a baker was. But when it comes to figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, they aren't wrong when they say to look at your past.
On the joy of baking
As much as I enjoy eating pastries, there are two things that bring me all the more joy with the baking process.
First - baking as therapy.
I didn't have the greatest time in high school, and struggled to connect with my peers as a transfer student. San Jose never felt like home.
But there was one thing that felt like home for me. Much to my parents' dismay, though I was supposed to be studying, my weekend evenings were often spent alone in the kitchen, with a pile of ingredients, a super ancient whisk, and a mixing bowl. The methodical nature and precision of the baking process always brought me comfort, from the science of blending ingredients to the moment it comes out of the oven. I got lost in the motion of reading, measuring, mixing, and kneading - all my worries would fade away with the mixing of dough.
And second - baking as connection.
Though I'm slightly introverted, nothing feels more natural than approaching people with baked goods in hand. Inevitably, I bake the things I crave, but my baking exponentially increased when I saw it as a way to connect and care for others. Birthday cupcakes, bake sales, and cookie fundraisers became a natural way for me to authentically relate with others, and also share the joy of food. To this day, I love finding any reason to visit someone to share pastries alongside some appreciation and care.
On 3 years running a cookie business
As I sit here, journaling away in a coffee shop right before I go to set up at West Coast Craft for my birthday weekend, I can't help but realize how there's no other way I'd like to spend my 30th birthday weekend. While I miss being in the kitchen for hours on end, the growth of Christine's Cookie Co. these past 3 years means stepping away from the mixer and managing an amazing all-female team that works so hard to get fresh cookies baked in the wee hours of the morning for a wonderful community of cookie friends, old and new. My husband often comments on how blessed our business has been these past 3 years - we've garnered so much favor within our local community (which is already full of amazing bakers), and we couldn't be more grateful.
I get the luckiest opportunity to experience this all, to feel the buzz and excitement whenever we have a line wrapping the corner, to witness selling out at a giant craft fair, the receive all the kind words whenever someone tries a cookie for the first time. There's no place I'd rather be than amongst amazing creatives, passionate individuals, small businesses owners, and a community that is so supportive of it all.
On what's to come
I'm a little slow to update, but we've been having some fantastic volunteering opportunities with the cookie community. I already receive so much joy when I get to connect with others over a shared love of cookies, but even more when we're able toto come together and serve the community.
I always had the intention to make every bake purposeful with Christine's Cookie Co. (call me an idealist) through all-organic ingredients and local sourcing, but to take a bakery business to something further is uncommon. So what if we're a little different, a little idealistic, loving our community and planet beyond the normal bounds of a bakery? I'd rather try than not try at all, creating something meaningful with the little corner of space I have in this short life.
I had also mentioned that I miss being in the kitchen, but as the team normalizes and runs more autonomously, I will be stepping away to do some soul searching (or baking) on my own and have already enrolled in a short term, full-time pastry program. I've been so wrapped up in the world of cookies, but have been desiring an opportunity to receive proper training as a professional pastry chef. I'm a proponent of life long learning, so know that this experience will make me a better baker to develop our cookie recipes. Excited to embark on this little journey later in the year, and perhaps bring new pastries as a result of it!
And of course, a question we are always asked - do you have a brick and mortar yet?
With the pastry program, I hope to soak up all the insight I can into running a full fledged bakery with multiple product lines, but one piece of advice I had received from another small business owner was to not be afraid to make the leap.
I've been thinking a lot about the role of a chef or baker - in effect, we are artists with food. We create out of love, a desire to feed. Every creation we make is often a reflection of our cultures, our histories, what we ate as a child, and what we often crave, and some of us are lucky enough to have others entrust their tastebuds to us, taking a chance on our edible creations. Personal recipes are an extension of who we are as individuals, and to have someone want more of your food offers some sort of validation to our identity even if we try to be pragmatic about it. My husband and I always joke that the real reason we started this cookie business was so we could eat more of my cookies, but to see so many of you wanting cookies for some of your very special celebrations, weddings, or even weekend routines...I couldn't be more honored.
All that being said, as I do some soul-searching/baking later this year, we'll be moving more intentionally with a brick and mortar search, but we won't be rushing into it. We realize that finding a home for Christine's Cookie Co. will take time, and we want to be smart financially and logistically with wherever we end up. We'll keep doing pop ups for as long as we can throughout the bay to get our cookies far and wide, so continue to follow along while we make the most of it!
So here's to 30 - a new decade of baking more of what I crave and what I believe in. Thank you for making Christine's Cookie Co. a place where I can be my most authentic self, serving baked goods with intention, consciousness, and a whole lot of love. I cannot wait to continue this journey of community building, sustainable food, and baking with you all.