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Daily Inspiration: Meet Justin Charboneau

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Charboneau.

Hi Justin, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
SugarTats Cookie Company started as an accident. My wife and I decided to throw our friends a space-themed dinner party last year randomly, and I googled “space-themed desserts” to find ideas of what to make for the evening. There were a ton of cool ideas, but the one that stuck out the most were these gingerbread man cookies decorated like astronauts. My first thought was, “I bet I could make those, how hard can it be?” so I went back to google and searched for all the things needed to make these decorated cookies. The cookies took me forever to make and were nowhere close to what I pictured in my perfectionist’s brain, but I had a lot of fun making them. When our friends came over and saw them, they loved them! That was the first inclination that there was something special here and I wanted to keep doing this. I began making cookies on the weekends and taking them to work. From Harry Potter themed cookies to random designs, I would get suggestions from coworkers on Friday and spend all weekend making these creations to bring into the office on Monday.

I began posting my cookies on social media and the orders started rolling in. I didn’t even think I was “good enough” to make a lot of the requested designs, but I realized I’d never get better if I didn’t challenge myself. I officially launched SugarTats at the beginning of the pandemic in April, and it has been a nonstop flow of orders since. A couple of weeks after launch, I was contacted by Food Network and asked to audition for Season 4 of the Christmas Cookie Challenge competition show which I gladly accepted! I made the show this year and my episode aired on 11/30 on Food Network.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to create these delicious personal treats for people! I fell in love with cookies not only because of my sweet tooth, but because it allows me to make people smile and feel special. It’s a reward I never expected when I made my first set last November.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I would say that for the most part, it has been a smooth road given my circumstances. I always hear that when someone starts a new business, they should expect to work LOOOONG hours and get no sleep and so on. I still work full time at OtterBox and do cookies basically full time on the side. It keeps me busy for sure, but I have to keep reminding myself how grateful I am for this opportunity. I definitely have long hours and 2-3-4am nights to then wake up for 8:30 am meetings, but it is all worth it! Especially with this pandemic, there are so many people in tough situations, so I have to keep coming back to gratitude, which helps me get through any rough patch I have experienced.

If I had to pick out one of the most challenging moments of my journey so far, it was when I took on two detailed design orders at the same time (6 dozen cookies total). I did not bake the cookies ahead of time as I meant to, then work ran late, and I ended up working through the night and finished the cookies about an hour or so before my meeting the next morning. It was a hard day to say the least, but it led me to discover the heavenly combo of dipping sugar cookies into coffee so I can’t complain!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I may be only a year in, but I am a Cookier through and through! I never really baked anything when I was a kid, nor did I ever think I would start a cookie business when I “grew up” but the more I think about it, the more I realize it is kind of makes sense that I started a business like this.

My dad is a graphic designer so I remember always watching his drawing and sign painting when I was a kid. I took every art and pottery class available in high school and thrived when making things with my hands. After high school, let the art/drawing side go, though I never turned down an opportunity to draw cute pictures for my nieces and nephews over the years. I have worked many jobs throughout my professional career, but all with a commonality of customer satisfaction. From Chuck E Cheese’s to ice cream shops to the corporate training job I currently have, I was always able to find myself in a position to positively impact others and help people smile more. So when this cookie thing came along, I realized it was a perfect culmination of it all. I found something that allows my creative art to come out while bringing joy to people at the same time!

There are a lot of amazing bakers in the world of cookies, but I continually try to set myself apart just by being me! I don’t want to hide behind my cookies. I want people to see me for who I am and why I am doing this. One of the biggest things that set SugarTats apart from other cookie businesses is my wife Brittany’s Rookie Cookies.

My wife is one of the top professional road and trail runners in the country. She has a lot of success in that world, so we wanted to see if that success transfers to decorating cookies. It has created a hilarious aspect of the business that customers love! For example, if someone orders a set of cookies with three designs, they will get all of their cookies from me, plus three bonus “Rookie Cookies” (one of each design) from Brittany. We call them “Rookie Cookies – Amateur cookies made by a Pro Athlete,” and sometimes I think customers like hers better than mine!

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters to me most is bringing joy to people. Especially in today’s world, there is a lot going on that is not ideal for any of us. I have found that personalized cookies can be a little relief from the daily grind, a token of appreciation for someone, or a way to celebrate someone you care about, just for being them!

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1 Comment

  1. Trudy Armstrong

    December 8, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    This is so amazing and it shows how to step out of your boundaries and let your creative side blossom. Congratulations Justin for such a great attitude and perspective on what this world needs.

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