Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristy Barlow.
Hi Kristy, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Our story. Well, baking has always been a love language for me. When I was young it was one of the only things my mother would actually ask me to do in the kitchen, and it was specific to chocolate chip cookies. As I got older, went to college and got married, it still was something I loved to do, but really only did it for special occasions. Quite often friends would suggest that I open a bakery and I would very quickly dismiss the idea. Who would want to buy what I make? Doesn’t everyone know how to make this?
Our family relocated from the Salt Lake City Valley to the Houston area in the beginning of 2017. As I searched for part time jobs or things I could do to help with the income, nothing ever felt right. One evening, as we had guests over and I had just finished a batch of my chocolate chip cookies, I had a strong feeling come over me that I should post something about it on a local Facebook group and just see what kind of response came back. Within an hour I had several people reach out to see how to place an order.
The next day I got my food handlers permit, researched names, and read up on all things cottage bakery (The Great State of Texas has amazing cottage food laws, fyi). Before the week was up my amazing and supportive husband and I had registered with the state and county and I started baking for orders. Those people, those amazing people, are still some of my most loyal supporters. I have had the opportunity to bake for local businesses that have used our cookies as gifts for their referring clients, graduations, weddings, baby showers, and all of those special simple moments in between.
Between word of mouth, social media, and getting out in the community, I have grown my customer base and even survived the pandemic. Even as a small cottage bakery, I feel like I am “winning!”
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road is not smooth, and who wants an easy boring road anyway? There is no adventure or growth when there are no challenges. The biggest struggle, the first struggle, was having enough faith and confidence to put myself out there. As an introvert, it is so out of my comfort zone to engage with people I don’t know. But as I have pushed myself out of that comfort zone amazing things have happened!
I think a lot of the struggles I have are very typical for smaller businesses in general, especially as a cottage business. I am not big enough to get the attention of the larger food distributors to source ingredients at lower bulk prices. I insist on higher quality ingredients that generally cost more, that is something I will not compromise on, so my costs are higher than others that do the same thing. I would rather spend the money on shipping and have a product that I feel is high quality, than to have something that I feel is sub-par but gives me a little more profit. I am sure all of the finance and business guru’s are shaking their heads at this, I hear you friends.
In all honesty, the pandemic was a little difficult for me at first. Not because business came to a halt for a hot minute, but because so many others in my area had fun in their kitchens and some started selling the exact same things as me. It took me a moment to get out of that feeling of scarcity, like I just lost because I wasn’t a marketing guru or a super savvy extroverted business developer. As quickly as that panic came though, it was replaced with peace. There is a place for all the bakers. What we are making goes beyond the taste buds and there will always be a need for that comfort that these treats bring.
One of the biggest hurdles through all of this fun ride though has been learning to set boundaries for myself; that I can bake all the things, but still be the wife and mother that I want to be for my family. I have been so blessed to have the most supportive business partner, who happens to be my husband, to pick up my slack and help with all of the behind the scenes tasks that he can. From dinners and bedtimes to making hundreds if not thousands of boxes (labeled, with our food grade tissue and ready to be packed), my husband has been my biggest cheerleader and most critical taste tester.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I bake cookies! I specialize in drop cookies such as a classic chocolate chip or snickerdoodle. I have a killer soft sugar cookie with an almond buttercream frosting that will change the way you think about sugar cookies. I am most proud of my Texas Sheet Cake Cookie. The Texas Sheet Cake is such an iconic dessert to me. Needless to say, it took me the longest to perfect and I have since gained weight; quality control and all.
I think what sets me apart from others is that my cookies don’t have to be warm to be soft and chewy, without under baking. So many cookies from other bakeries either taste good fresh out of the oven, but then are hard when they have cooled off, or are under baked and lack depth. I don’t want my cookie customers to have to do anything other than take a bite. Life is busy enough without adding another step to enjoy a treat. I bake what I like. I like soft, chewy cookies with enough flavor and aroma to make it an experience.
We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I believe luck is more of a blessing from following divine guidance. I have found that when I include God in my decision making, everything works out in my favor.
- Cookie Club Boxes: $25
- Cookie Cakes: $40 and up
- Email: info@SimpleSweetsHTX.com
- Instagram: @SimpleSweetsPearland
- Facebook: @SimpleSweetsPearland
Ashlyn Hanzon (@ashlynhphoto)