Today we’d like to introduce you to Lupita Chavez.
Lupita, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In 2000 we moved to the US because of my husband’s job transfer and from there we started on an adventure. We have a 19-year-old daughter and I have been partially a stay at home mom for almost 15 years.
More than ten years ago in Mcallen, Texas, I started with the curiosity of learning how to decorate cookies like the ones that I used to see in catalogues because I wanted to make some for my daughter’s First Communion. So, I started investigating how to make them, at that time there was no Pinterest or Instagram where you could easily find what you were looking for. I was not so familiar with Google or anything like that, so the libraries and bookstores were my first resource to fulfill my curiosity on how to make decorated cookies. Then, after mastering the art of cookie decorating (of course after some trial and error) and a few customers in, I started to ponder about opening a small bakery.
I visited my local chamber of commerce and they told me about a program that the local University of Texas Panam offered for small businesses. So one day after dropping my daughter off at school I went to ask for information and a very kind lady gave me a lot of information on how to start a small business. I put my self to work and took some courses to start building my brand. In the beginning, the name of my cookie shop was Le Lupitte Gourmet. Then I started looking for a place to open our little bakery, however, at that time in Texas, you could not sell homemade cookies. I also started developing my marketing material such as the website, catalogue, business cards, etc.. One piece of advice that they gave me was, that even though I still didn’t have a storefront yet, I could start using my marketing strategies.
But, my husband got a job opportunity and we were relocated to Kansas… Kansas?… yes.. we had to follow the yellow brick road… I was not so happy about leaving behind the dreams of my cookie shop, but I was so happy for my husband’s new job opportunity and even more happy because he was going to be able to spend more time with our daughter since he did not have to travel as much in this new job. So we are in the middle of the country, not knowing a single person, just the three of us. The people in Kansas were so nice, and little by little we started making friends and soon after we felt like home.
And at that time I needed to stay connected with our friends in Texas, so I started using the internet more and I started looking for a website called “Etsy”, that my cousin suggested me to look it since she said that I could sell my cookies there. It sounded weird to me, but I learned more and more about Etsy. In Kansas, you cannot sell homemade items either, so I needed to find a place where I could bake my cookies so I could start selling them. So one day I asked the owner of the coffee shop I visited very often that if she could give me the opportunity to bake my cookies there and sell them in her shop and right away she said, “Of course”.
I am so thankful that there are good people that still see the good in other people. She really didn’t know me that well, but she trusted in me and I trusted in her. I started working hard to set up my Etsy shop to start shipping cookies everywhere, without knowing that it wouldn’t be easy and it would take time to set those things up.
So meanwhile my daughter was at school, I dedicated a lot of my time to taking pictures, making cookies, looking for local potential costumers and setting up my Etsy shop. Soon after I got my first Etsy order, it was for a Mary Poppins’s Carrousel horse, designing the cookie was as complicated as it sounds, but I said yes and started looking for the cookie cutter and made a beautiful cookie, packed it and shipped it.
I was anxious to hear the feedback from my first Etsy customer, and then I got an email, where the lady told me that almost all the cookies were broken! Oh my goodness! She was super nice, she loved the taste of the cookies and really loved the design of the ones that were not broken. I was so frustrated because of the breakage and was almost ready to give up. My husband helped me to find some packaging material, we made some tests and put our engineering knowledge to the test. We both are food biochemistry engineers, and my husband has a Masters in food science. So after several tests, we found the perfect way of packing them and started sending cookies all over the US with almost no breakage!
But then again, my husband found another job and we moved back to Texas, and started all over again… it was not easy. My family is what is most important to me and we had to stay strong, pray a lot for an easy transition and trust.
In the beginning, I dedicated my time mostly to my family, I sent some cookie orders that were already scheduled and sent some more orders to costumers that really loved my cookies and told me that The Cookie Couture became part of their family traditions. This made me so happy, because that is one my goals, that my cookies become part of your family traditions. Let me tell you a very lovely Etsy story. A lady contacted me and asked me if I could make her some Christmas cookies using her own recipe.
I was not sure about this, but I tested her recipe and the cookies were very good, so I agreed to use her recipe. She ordered like 6 dozens (a lot of cookies), and I packed them and shipped to arrive by Christmas. The lady told me that she was getting older and was not able to bake cookies anymore, but that she really wanted her great-grandchildren, grandchildren and all her family to still enjoy her cookies. So this made me so happy that through my cookies her family was able to continue with their Christmas tradition.
So I was waiting for the notice that the cookies arrived on time. The lady’s daughter emailed me telling me that the cookies arrived when they were having her funeral dinner. I was sad to hear that, but her daughter told me that her family was so happy that one of her grandmother’s last wills were fulfilled. Just by remember this story, I get teary eyed and I feel so blessed that my cookies can be an instrument of joy.
Going back where we returned to Texas; I met a friend that is also a cookie decorating blogger and she told me all about the world of blogging. So I began sharing cookie decorating tutorials, not knowing how hard it is to be found in the blogging world, but I still blogged about them. I was happy that my cookie ideas were out there and was hoping that my experiences would help others to fulfill their dreams. Because our family life got very busy, due to our daughter’s schedule being very demanding and I started working part-time as a substitute teacher, I couldn’t dedicate enough time to the blog.
My husband and I needed to start learning all about going to college here in the US, to support our daughter and I dedicated most of my time to being a mom, a substitute teacher, and blogging and baking some cookies from time to time for my friends and family. Time passed and our daughter graduated from High School last year and we are so proud of all her achievements and for acceptance to Rice University,
Being an empty nester, I started to put myself back to work on my cookies. I heard about the Texas Cottage Food Laws that was approved to let you sell homemade baked goods and I started learning more about it and became certified. A little after I started operating with the Texas Cottage Food Law, I opened my Youtube channel sharing my cookie ideas and experiences as a home-based cookie shop. Many people have helped me along the way and without them, I could not be where I am today. Now one of my main goals is to help stay at home mothers that have a passion for something, that although our family is first, we still can work little by little on our own to make our dreams come true.
And now The Cookie Couture is here to create beautiful Texan cookies, willing to be a part of your special celebrations and become a tradition in Texan families.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, it has not been a smooth road. Being relocated several times has been the hardest part because we need to start over again. I think the hardest thing is to start finding new costumers, as well as proving that you are trustworthy and that your business is professional. That definitely takes time and it is very hard, particularly in big cities like The Woodlands and Houston.
Another thing is that as a mom you need to find the time to make things work and you have to be patient. You have to wait for the right time to do things, sometimes I have had to do so many things at once and it has not been easy (it really is a juggling act). I eventually learned that there is a time for each thing, which is what my mom used to tell me.
You also have to keep in mind that the bumps on the road will always teach you something, even if it makes you work harder to achieve your goals.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Cookie Couture – what should we know?
The Cookie Couture specializes on creating ORIGINAL and DELICIOUS cookie designs. What I sell the most are the cookie collections I have designed, the most popular collections being: Alice in Wonderland, The mini Advent cookie set, The Nutcracker Ballet, Casino cookies, etc. On my blog, the most popular is the minion cookies, the melting witch, The Kentucky Derby, the tools for Dad, among others. Last but not least, on The Cookie Couture Channel, the Watercolor cookies and the Flower Bouquet are my most liked uploads.
I think people love the taste of my cookies, we have been perfecting our recipe over time. The key to the wonderful taste of our cookie is that is made with the best quality ingredients, attention to detail, great packaging and a lot of love. My husband has a lot of expertise in food quality control and that has helped me a lot. Besides, he and my daughter are very good critics, flavor and design wise, and if my cookies pass these two filters, I know my costumers will love them as well.
I really love to hear what my costumers think when they taste my cookies. When I was building up my website I asked my friends what they thought about my cookies and most of them told me that they love the taste, that it is just the right amount of sweetness, and that they taste more like a European shortbread cookie that reminds them of their grandmothers’ cookies.
My costumers also like my cookie designs a lot and I try to always be on trend when making original designs. I don’t like to make the same cookie designs everybody else is doing, I don’t want my cookies to be a “cookie cutter” kind of cookies. If a customer asked me to customize a cookie for them, I always like to start from scratch on my design. I let the cookie cutter “talk to me” and from there I start creating an original design based on my costumer’s requirements.
I think what really sets me apart is my placed importance on the junction where flavor and creative design collide. That is where The Cookie Couture’s slogan comes from. I forgot to mention that I always try to offer an accessible price.
I am very proud that The Cookie Couture on ETSY has a feedback of 5 stars. I am also proud to have had the chance to make cookies for great ballet dancers, like Connor Walsh and Wendy Whellan and for the stores BHLDN, Channel cosmetics at Dillard’s, Madewell, Cos bar, Blend Smart, among others.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My husband and my daughter has been so important for The Cookie Couture, without them, I think It wouldn’t be where it is today. They had helped me so much, in my Etsy shop, on my blog, on the website and now on Youtube.
They had supported me all the way, they cheer me up on my hard times and always helped me to be better, they are super smart and each of them has a different vision and have given the cookie couture a little piece. My husband is very technical and with his Master on Food science I had a great support on that and my daughter is awesome, she is my EDITOR in chief like my first language is not English she always helped me editing my writing and also she knows very well what the costumers are looking for.
So with her I am always on trend and most important, she has been my INSPIRATION, because when I started to learn how to make the cookies was because I wanted to make the cookies for her first communion, and from that, every birthday party and for all her ballet recitals I have been making cookies inspired on her. She is a great ballerina and has participated in several productions, so I had to make Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Coppelia and many other ballet-related cookie designs.
I will always be thankful to Bridget Edwards, because when I was not selling cookies, she introduced me to blogging and that kept my cookie passion alive and I am happy that I take a lot of pictures and documented all my cookie designs so know I can share them on Youtube and help other cookie designers around the world to make their dreams come true.
And all my friends and family close and far have been always great supporters and great costumers. I am also thankful for social media because this way my family that is far away can still support The Cookie Couture.
- Most of cookies designs starts at $2.75 ea depending on size and design
- The bite-size collections starts at $18.00/ 36-48 pieces
- Cookie flower bouquet $25.00 ea/6 cookies assorted sizes.
- Address: The Woodlands, Texas
- Website: www.thecookiecouture.com
- Phone: 936-657-0444
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lupisthecookiecouture
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThecookiecoutureFB
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/cookiecoutureTW
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/thecookiecouturechannel
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/thecookiecouture
Sarina Eckhardt, Creative Photo Clicks