Stephanie Cohen describes herself as a “relationship builder.” It’s a quality that has made her an empathetic person and someone who is intrigued with the unique qualities of everyone. She believes understanding “what makes a person tick” is a key component in building a more constructive dialogue between people. As a Human Resources Professional, she enjoys figuring out how different people can work together productively to improve performance, growth, and employee engagement. Stephanie was born and raised in Calgary, AB, and attended York University in Toronto, ON where she graduated with a degree in Human Resources Management. She’s obtained designations in the Human Resource field in both Canada and the US, including the Chartered Professional of Human Resources (CPHR), and the Senior Certified Professional (SHRM) designations. Stephanie was laid off and found herself desperate for activities to do with her kiddos during the pandemic lockdown. She’s always had a relationship with confections (especially those with sprinkles) so she decided to take a risk and shift her focus from corporate to cookies! Steph created a small business called Yours Truly Cookies, and the concept is Paint Your Own (PYO) Cookie. It’s the perfect combination of activity and snack – an interactive and tasty treat for all ages! Each cookie is individually heat sealed and comes with a paintbrush and edible paint palette. With the business less than a year old, she has been fortunate to have gained traction quickly and this side hustle has quickly blossomed into a small business! Her hope is to bake the world a more interactive place!
In this episode:
- Making a change requires taking a leap of faith especially when fear and imposter syndrome creep in.
- Mentorship matters. When you are looking to do or you are doing something new or different, reach out, ask questions, and seek advice.
- Go for it! There’s always room in this world for good ideas or for ideas that make the world a better place.
Connect with Stephanie:
- Instagram: @yours_truly_cookies https://www.instagram.com/yours_truly_cookies/
- Facebook: @yourstrulycookies https://www.facebook.com/yourstrulycookies
- Website: https://yourstrulycookies.ca
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On this episode of The Part-Time Jungle Podcast, I had a wonderful conversation with Stephanie about her journey from corporate to cookies! We talked about how making a change requires taking a leap of faith, the importance of seeking out mentorship opportunities when you are looking to do or doing something new, how there’s lots of room in the world for your amazing idea, and so much more!
Stephanie is practically my neighbour! It was so much fun to discover in our conversation that we live in the same community as one another and about 700m apart! You will love learning about Stephanie’s story of resilience and perseverance. She took a lemon and made it into lemonade in her journey from corporate to cookies!
BAKING WITH HER KIDS
Stephanie’s business venture started around Father’s Day when we were on lockdown. Her family was doing a lot of baking and her kids love to paint. She wondered if there was a way to incorporate the two. Stephanie and her kids started just doing watercolors on royal icing and then, this evolved into making designs. “Paint your own cookies” is not Stephanie’s original concept. It’s something that’s out there in the world but just hasn’t really been explored here in Calgary.
SEEKING SOME EXTRA SUPPORT
Stephanie’s family has been very supportive of this new adventure! To help with her juggle, she and her husband decided to bring a teacher on board to help them out part-time at their house with their kids. With this teacher’s support, Stephanie was able to keep up with baking, fulfilling orders, and also spending time with her kids.
CONSULTING, COOKIES, & KIDS
When Stephanie first started her cookie business, and they had the support of childcare, she was doing HR consulting in the mornings. In the afternoons she would be spending time with her kids. Then, in the evenings, after her kids went to bed, she would be baking and decorating cookies until three in the morning and before they got up in the morning.
Stephanie’s days have changed now that kids are back to in-person learning. She has taken a step back from HR consulting because she’s been swamped with cookies. Stephanie says that she feels very blessed to be stressed in this way! Now, she is able to focus on her cookies until she goes to pick up her kids. She spends as much time with her kids as she can before their bedtimes. After they go to bed, Stephanie is back in the kitchen, again, working on cookies. Her husband tells her that she is definitely living everyday to the fullest!
TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH
Stephanie has always wanted to have her own business, She has always had an entrepreneurial mindset. She just had never taken that leap of faith. For Stephanie, COVID brought out some good and bad in the world. It presented the push that she needed in order to take that leap. It was a difficult transition in the sense that it was hard for her to shift her focus away from looking for and pursuing another corporate opportunity. Instead, she was moving to do something that she was really passionate about.
Stephanie remains passionate about human resources but finds working so hard for herself is a very cool feeling. To see that she was able to create something that kids were enjoying, spending time on, and focusing on truly makes her emotional. Moms have reached out to Stephanie with pictures and it’s been really motivating and special. She’s been fortunate to have built some momentum and it’s exciting to think about what the future holds. In the beginning, it was scary. It’s scary to take that leap of faith and to make such a drastic change.
Stephanie’s husband is currently a PhD student which means that she is the sole breadwinner. In making this shift, they had to have a conversation about whether or not Stephanie pursuing her business idea was going to be something that worked for their family right now. Her husband has been incredibly supportive along the way. What started as just a little side hustle is now growing. At the time of recording, Stephanie was looking to move into a commercial kitchen space and has actually been there since October!
Stephanie says that she has suffered from and continues to suffer from imposter syndrome. Even with our conversation for this podcast recording, she wondered why I would want to talk to her and what I would want to talk to her about. Stephanie thinks that a lot of people can identify with this type of uncertainty and these questions. What do I have to offer? What makes me different?
ALWAYS ROOM FOR GOOD IDEAS
Stephanie says that there’s always room in this world for good ideas or for ideas that make the world a better place. There’s obviously risk in taking that leap but if you’ve got the support and a good foundation around you, Stephanie encourages you to go for it. For Stephanie, living through this experience has been fun! She doesn’t know where it’ll take her, but she thinks that she will always look back at this time and be proud of herself for at least giving it a shot.
Throughout this journey, Stephanie has been looking for opportunities for mentorship. She has been able to speak to a lot of people that have small businesses. Stephanie has reached out to other local culinary businesses and asked questions. How do I get started? What licenses do I need? How do I go about getting insurance?
COMMUNITY & CONNECTION
Without knowing anybody personally, everyone that Stephanie has reached out to has been incredibly supportive. The community here in Calgary blows her mind! Everyone is here to help each other. She joined a Facebook group for her local community and started advertising her cookies and brand inside the group. The response that she received was so overwhelming and so touching. Moms from the community reached out to her and shared that they loved supporting local and this gave Stephanie the confidence that she just didn’t have at the time.
SOAKING IT ALL IN
In general, Stephanie has been reaching out to whoever she can, whoever will talk to her, and whoever will give her advice. She’s like a sponge right now and feels very green right now in this whole pursuit.It can be vulnerable to put yourself out there in this way. In Stephanie’s mind, she just wondered what’s the worst that someone can say. They might not respond or they might say that they are too busy. You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.
This has largely been her marketing strategy as well. She’s reached out to a lot of influencers and people that have a large social media following. Stephanie writes them and asks if she can send them some of her cookies. Some of them respond and some of them don’t. For the ones that do, it presents a great marketing opportunity.
PAINT YOUR OWN COOKIE
Stephanie’s brand is all about ‘paint your own cookies’. The cookies are sugar cookies which she offers in white, whole wheat, and gluten free flour options. She ices them with royal icing and then puts a design on top with royal icing as well. Her design collection continues to grow. At the time of recording she had about 50 design options! Stephanie hand pipes royal icing dots, airbrushes edible food coloring onto those dots, and then glues with icing onto the cookie. These dots are essentially the paints! It takes a little bit of water on a paintbrush to activate the paint and then, the cookies can be painted and eaten.
BUILDING HER DESIGN COLLECTION
Stephanie’s first designs were Chase from “Paw Patrol” and Woody from “Toy Story” because they were favourites of her two little guys. These aren’t on her website because of copyright but it is where she started when this was a fun project to do with her own kids. Stephanie’s design collection has grown from a combination of customer requests as well as thinking about themed boxes for special days, like Thanksgiving, and things kids are passionate about, like superheroes.
FOR ALL AGES
Stephanie’s cookies are enjoyed by all ages from young kids to seniors! Elderly people in a senior’s facility have even painted her cookies for an activity and her cookies have also been used in occupational therapy for kids. For Stephanie, her business is not just baking cookies. It’s creating an interactive experience for everybody. This is why it’s her mission is to bake the world a more interactive place. For Stephanie, it’s rewarding to create that experience.
WHAT WORKS FOR ONE…
Stephanie’s youngest son turned 3 in November. He was potty trained in the spring. When his older brother was potty trained, they got him a big boy bed. Stephanie and her husband followed suit with their younger little guy but it has not worked well. Stephanie says that taking him out of his crib has been the worst decision that they’ve made this year. She’s not going to sugarcoat it.
Stephanie said that she and her husband will be reaching out to a sleep consultant soon! It feels like they have a newborn again, Sometimes he can be up from 10:30 PM to 3:30 AM. There are times when she will be fast asleep and all of a sudden there is a little hand on her face.
REACH OUT TO ANYBODY & EVERYBODY
Stephanie says that she feels like she is still trying to get all the advice she can get. What’s been most helpful to Stephanie in making a change in what she does for work, has been reaching out to everyone and anybody. There’s a lot of help out there. A lot of amazing small businesses that are just looking to help people and a lot of moms that are looking to help. In trying to start a little high side hustle, there are many people who want to support you. Getting that support from other people can really give you the confidence to move forward. Don’t hold yourself back and do try to tackle that imposter syndrome face on.
Thanks so much to Stephanie for this fantastic conversation and thank YOU for tuning in!