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Before The Graceful Baker Videos: When Cookies Were For Sale [About Me: Part 4]

Two of my most-asked questions are: 1) what did my first ever cookies look like? and 2) do I sell my cookies?

To the first question: You can check out this post here for the very first cookies I ever made from 2010 to the beginning of 2017 (before The Graceful Baker® was born).

To the second question: today, I do not sell cookies. But, I did start out my cookie journey selling cookies. After The Graceful Baker® was born in April 2017, but before I became known as the (unofficial) Cookie Video Queen (around the end of 2018), I dipped my toes into taking orders and creating cookies for events (while still making cookies for friends and family).

My first pop-up shop!

So, here is a post dedicated to just that year of cookies! It’s always fun to see the evolution of skill and style (and at the end I share my very first cookie videos).

Buckle up for ALL OF THE PHOTOS 🥳

My Very First Cookie Orders in 2017

For my first ever order, I made cookies for a spirit day at a local school (my very first order for a dear friend and colleague whom I lovingly dubbed my “cookie patron”–she was my biggest supporter from day one and placed the most orders for my cookies):

Cookies for a spirit day at school

I made cookies for a fundraising event (my first time color matching a brand and doing a logo…WOW was this a stressful order with very long days and lots of tears…and I’m pretty sure there were around 100 cookies for this!):

Cookies for a fundraising event

For my mom’s birthday (I started to get smarter with my cookies…the same color palette/icing as I used for the fundraising event):

Cookies for my mom’s birthday

For a bridal shower (also an order for the friend of a dear friend and colleague):

Cookies for a bridal shower

For a colleague’s last day:

Cookies for a colleague’s last day

For a visit to my aunt’s house (I still loved any excuse to experiment with new designs):

Cookies for my aunt

For teacher appreciation at a local school (my first repeat customer and my first order where I delivered my cookies in nice boxes):

Cookies for a local school teacher appreciation

For wedding favors (when I learned just how much more stressful orders for weddings are!):

For the 2 year anniversary of a local business (when I learned the pressure of accurately representing the vision of a a business owner):

Cookies for the anniversary of a local business

For a book club (matching the imagery from the book):

Cookies for a book club meeting

For a Christmas party (complete creative freedom, but a huge order!):

For my family’s Christmas dinner place cards (for a hot second I thought I had a real future in making personalized dinner place cards):

Cookies for Christmas dinner place cards

And for Cookies and Carols 2017 — one of my favorite sets every that I will be forever bummed never made it into videos (maybe I will have to remake these??):

One of my favorite Christmas sets ever

And of course I needed to make a sugar cookie option for the Christmas party (design courtesy of Sweet Sugarbelle):

Sugar cookie trees

My First Cookie Videos

It was during Christmas 2017 that I made my FIRST ever cookie videos.

I’m honestly not sure what inspired me to do this! I would imagine I saw some on Instagram and thought to myself: I can do that! This was at a time when videos on Instagram were still square and most people were just holding their camera with one hand while decorating with the other.

For this one my sister held the camera:

And for this one I held the camera with my left hand and decorated with my right hand (it’s both challenging and easier than it sounds!):

The Cookie Orders Continued in 2018

Even after I started making cookie videos, I continued to sell my cookies in various capacities. While my heart was in the videos, the increased exposure gave me opportunities to sell my cookies that I didn’t have before.

My cousin’s baby shower:

Cookies for my cousin’s baby shower

The opening of my best friend’s business (making logos are HARD):

Opening of my best friend’s business

Spirit day at the school I worked for:

Cookies for spirit day at my school

Favors for guests at a concert:

Cookies for a concert

For my family reunion:

Cookies for a family reunion

Samples I made for my first order for a stranger’s daughter’s birthday party (that ended in the person ghosting me…oh the joys of taking orders!):

Cookies for my first (ghosted) order

Cookies ordered by a cake artist to complement the cake at a sweet sixteen:

Cookies for a Sweet Sixteen

Cookies for a painting party:

Cookies for a painting party

My First (And Only) Pop-Up Shops

After taking orders for a bit, I decided to venture into pop-up shops when a local business approached me.

I preferred pop-up shops because I had more creative freedom to do the designs I wanted. But, the most nerve-wracking part was how many cookies to make. Will they sell out? What if I’m left with a bunch of cookies that I don’t know what to do with?

(Spoiler alert: I didn’t sell all my cookies both times which was both heartbreaking in the moment and a great lesson.)

I did my very first pop-up shop in November 2018:

First pop-up shop in November 2018

That was such a success that I did a second pop-up shop in December 2018 (I also took pre-orders from colleagues for these cookies–I MUCH prefer pre-orders because you know exactly how many cookies to make instead of having to guess):

My second pop-up shop in December 2018

My Takeaways from Selling Cookies

I’m very grateful for this time when I was able to experiment with taking orders for different kinds of events.

And honestly… I learned quite quickly that I didn’t like taking orders and selling cookies. Decorating with royal icing is already stressful enough, but add the layer of it being for someone else AND paid… the stress level is through the roof!

I was also still pretty new to cookie decorating, so it took me a lot longer to do everything than it does now. I had many, many long days and late nights of decorating and a LOT of tears.

I was still working my full-time job, so I did cookies evenings after work (after 5/6pm) and weekends. Sometimes I would spend my entire weekend (12 hour+ days) doing cookies.

I had never been the kind of person that loved to work that much, but I had finally found something that I loved: cookie decorating.

There was one catch though: I did NOT love taking orders and selling cookies. It quickly took the joy out of something that once brought me so much joy.

I thought for sure I’d never have a future with cookies. That is, until I starting posting cookie decorating videos on Instagram…

Coming soon: a post about why I finally quit my job to be a full-time cookie artist and content creator!

No Spread Sugar Cookies: Recipe for Decorating with Royal Icing

Monday 5th of June 2023

[…] [Until then: if you’re looking for more reading, check out my posts on my introduction, my life background before cookies, how I got into royal icing cookies and all of the cookies I made before I became a cookie video queen!] […]

Samantha Sponder

Monday 14th of November 2022

Glad you are so honest and upfront about your journey. I think a lot of cookiers feel the same way. I do not enjoy taking custom orders and don't take that many to begin with. However, I am thinking of just focusing on presales, pop up shops and Farmers Markets. I get so stressed with custom orders especially when you don't get creative freedom. I am so glad I have a secure full-time job in healthcare and can keep this cookie business as a side hustle. I really find that for me to stay passionate about cookies, it has to be part-time and an "escape" from my full-time job! Not an added pressure! LOL!!!


Monday 14th of November 2022

yesss fully support the presales/pop up/farmers market route!! more control over what/how much you make. and I TOTALLY get the need to keep it as an escape :) that was me for a really long time until I realized what direction I could take it!

Brooke McDonald

Sunday 13th of November 2022

So many learning experiences. Glad you were finally about to find what works best for you!


Monday 14th of November 2022

me tooooo :)


Sunday 13th of November 2022

I’m loving reading and seeing your story. It’s inspiring and encouraging. Especially seeing the photos and craters on your early cookies 💕😊 thank you for being willing to share where you have come from as a decorator and your honesty. It’s hard and discouraging at first so your blog has inspired me


Sunday 13th of November 2022

oh my goodness of course!! we are all start somewhere :) it took my literally years and years to get to where I am today!

Sandra F

Saturday 12th of November 2022

I have loved watching your videos on IG and now appreciate learning your how and why. I have been learning and gain confidence from your videos...I'm a grandma hoping to make cute cookies for the grand kiddos! Your designs are inspirational and I can't wait for your November sale, I'm going to try your Christmas beginner set!


Sunday 13th of November 2022

thank you so much for the support!!! Your grandkids are lucky ones ;)

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