Sheila Coon is the Founder and Chief Baker of Hot Oven Cookies, an artisanal mobile and retail bakery specializing in fresh-baked, gourmet cookies with innovative flavors. Her passion was rooted in cooking and the service of others through delicious food, which was bestowed upon her at a young age thanks to her mom and abuela. Sheila’s mission is to “share the cookie love” with everyone that walks into her store and throughout our local community!
What does being a women business owner mean to you? I created Hot Oven Cookies as a solution to problems I was facing as a single mom of seven, needing to be self-employed and to also fulfill my role as sole provider. What was birthed was not just a business but EMPOWERMENT; a source of sustainable employment that I could run WHENEVER, HOWEVER, and WHEREVER that was convenient for me.
How did you get started in baking? I first veered onto a path that was more solid: the law. While sitting for my LSATs, it prompted me to pursue a change and I decided that I wanted my work to be a passion, not an obligation. So I signed up for the Culinary Arts Institute at Holyoke Community College!
What inspired you to turn baking into a business? It started when I was a child; my newly-divorced mom started a small cookie business to support my siblings and I. I was intrigued by the joy she exuded and was often unsure who was happier; my mom while making the cookies or the customer who received them. The people, noise and sweet chaos surrounding the cookies, baking and family centered meals were the recipe and catalyst to my decision to become a baker, and the foundation for launching Hot Oven Cookies.
How is running a food truck different than running a brick-and-mortar store? There is more control and a set planning process with the truck. Because we use it most as a catering and marketing tool, we know ahead of time how many cookies are needed. Running a brick and mortar is a gamble because there is not a solid idea of how many cookies to make, which leads to not having enough or having too many. We have a system that tracks patterns, which is helpful but not foolproof. But with the store we are blessed to be in a place of comfort for those in need of a little (cookie) love.
How do you come up with original and unique cookie flavors? When I was a culinary student at Holyoke Community College, I gravitated towards baking and would whip-up LOADS of desserts daily for my household. My children always gravitated towards cookies but "plain" cookies would not suffice, so I started a cookie book to track all of the creative flavors and are now have up to 500 flavors which we use at the shop and truck.
What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
Freedom. Empowerment. Peace. Joy.
Hope, which hinges on plans to create a franchise business that gives others the opportunity to own an attainable and sustainable business.
Every business faces it’s challenges, how are you empowered to overcome yours? All of the people that need me to succeed.
Are there any new things on the horizon?
We have plans to open another store in the next few months with a production and manufacturing space. It will be the base of operations, allowing us to expand throughout this area and Connecticut via micro-stores, Indoor Cookie Kiosks, and a Cookie Dough Subscription Service.
To end, please tell our readers (in one word) how you would describe your boss-chik business? Dope!
Be sure to follow this chik-tastic SHERO and stay connected via social media!
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @HotOvenCookies.
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