When Sara Villicana threw a “she’s ready to pop” baby-themed baby shower, she called Cathy Jacobsen and ordered the latest trend in dessert culture: cake pops.
“Oh my goodness, everybody just loved them,” said Villicana of the colorful bite-sized cake treats on stick. “They looked beautiful. She gave me baskets, crinkle paper, containers and everything to set it all up. It was perfect.”
Jacobsen, 35, of Dyer, started her home-based bakery business, Cookielicious, earlier this year. Currently, she sells her baked goods at the Munster and Highland weekend farmers markets and follows all state food safety regulations.
She is certified in sanitation from Ivy Tech Community College, has an associate degree in business and has managed several local restaurants.
“I’ve been baking since I was 10, and it’s always been about the cookie,” said Jacobsen.
“I bake other things but cookies have been my mainstay. Because I’m a foodie, I’m picky so I’ve been on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookie – and I have the best.”
The rapid growth in the number of farmers markets across the country creates an increased opportunity for those like Jacobsen to share their homemade food. Some are able to turn their passion into a viable and successful business enterprise, enabling them to share what they love with their communities.
The outlook for bakers is good according to a survey done by www.modern-baking.com . It showed 70 percent expect their 2012 sales to increase over 2011. None were expecting a decrease and 30 percent thought sales would remain the same.
Consumers will spend on small indulgences even in a tough economy. “I’m a specialty not an ‘everything’ bakery,” she said. “People want sweets and don’t have time to bake. And it’s a special Sunday treat.”
She sells about 10 dozen cookies and brownies per week. Weather permitting, the wildly popular cake pops are also available. “When it’s hot they just melt down to the stick,” she said.
Jacobsen is looking to lease commercial space from a local professional kitchen so she can expand her market and hopes to open a storefront one day.
“The farmers markets allow me to showcase what I do outside of my friends and family,” she said. “I’m capturing a larger market and growing my customer base. When I do open a store I am going to be able to maintain the same level of quality. I’m not going to start cutting corners just because my business got bigger. I’ll be able to keep home-baked essence of my product.”