Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Clem.
Hi Samantha, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
While I recently opened my business about a year ago, my love for baking started shortly before my 12th birthday party. I was inspired by the one and only Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, to make my first hand-decorated cake. Now, this was no normal birthday cake. I hand-crafted this elaborate turtle-shaped cake, surrounded by brown sugar to look like sand. I spent hours decorating that cake, but I remember loving every moment of it. I loved making edible art, I wanted to be just like Cake Boss and my dream was to own a shop just like him.
Throughout my teenage years, I continued to bake, teaching myself through the internet and various cookbooks. My family enrolled me in a few different cake decorating classes at my local craft store where I expanded my skills. I started selling custom cakes and other sweet treats out of my parent’s kitchen when I was about fourteen and every year I was getting better and better. This led to the cakes being larger or more elaborate, which in turn took up more kitchen space. Thankfully my family put up with all the noise, dishes and mess that came with. They were always so supportive of my baking, buying me all the tools and gadgets I wanted; perhaps maybe too many when I started to outgrow the pantry space I was given.
When high school and the thought of college came around, I was lost in what I wanted to do. Although my family supported my baking, I was questioned if baking was going to be able to support my life. Was there money to be made in a pastry career? Because of this doubt, I attended Metropolitan State University of Denver as a Chemistry major. Was school hard? No, but I found myself not feeling where I was meant to be. School was dragging I had no motivation to go or complete my assignments. Then one day, scrolling through social media I saw a friend posting pictures of these beautiful desserts and I reached out. That is when I found Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The next day I called to ask some questions, a few days later I toured the campus and that same day I applied. I remember sitting in the car after, calling my parents, saying I was going to quit MSU and pursue my dream. I received my acceptance letter about a month later. I finished my second year of college and less than 2 months after, I was attending my first day of Culinary School.
I fell in love with school all over again. I found myself excited to go every day and learn something new. This is when my love for baking grew into my love for pastry arts. I was so intrigued by not only the science and art of it all, but the numbers and the behind the counter aspect of it too. My chefs taught me more than just textbook information. They gave me experiences, shared stories and their knowledge. I could not thank them enough for helping shape me into the pastry chef I am today.
As much as I loved school, I’m not going to say it was easy, it was a tough six months for sure. Class was Monday through Friday and we started at 7am sharp. Which meant I was waking up at 5am to drive an hour to get there on time, which in our field means 20 minutes early. On top of school, I was working till 11pm and coming home to complete all of my homework. School was going great for the first few months until I ran into some drama with fellow students. But thankfully with some encouraging words from Chef Nicole I showed up, kept my head down and completed my work. Man did it pay off though, on the last day of school I was rewarded student of the term and nothing could have made it better.
After my six-month course, my chefs helped me land an externship at Miette et Chocolate under world-renowned Chocolatier/ Pastry Chef Gonzo Jimenez. It was an honor to work in his shop and be given the opportunity to learn through his teachings. I took in every gram of knowledge he would present to me and it will forever be one of the best experiences in my life.
In February of 2020, I graduated from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts with honors. Right after that, I landed a job in the production factory of Little Man Ice Cream. But as we all know the world shut down in March and my job was on and off after that.
During the pandemic, I lost my grandmother who was my biggest supporter in life. I fell into a depressed state, which led to an unhealthy amount of time on a computer and video games. I was wasting my time away and lost myself. Unfortunately, I let it consume all of me until about a year ago when I woke up one day and decided to change my life. I decided that was not the life I wanted to live, not the person I wanted to be. I knew life was waiting for me, my dream wasn’t going to happen by sitting there. So, I dedicated everything I could to make it happen.
Flashback to my teenage years and my love for Cake Boss. I knew I wanted to open my own business. But this time it wasn’t so much with cake. Although I love decorating cakes, I shifted my focus to cookies. I started researching, going through my school notes finding out every bit of information on how to start and run a business. Later that month, I filed for an LLC with a trade name, and just like that Whipped Up Cookie Co. was born. I spent months waking up, going to my day job and coming home to work on my business. I had to learn how to do it all. It was so much more than just baking, but I was okay with that. The business side of things excited me but brought so much stress at the same time.
I knew how I wanted my cookie shop to be ran but knew I did not have the space or equipment to make that happen. I thought about renting out ghost kitchens or making a deal with a church. But I wanted a space to call my own. This led to a very long, convincing conversion with my parents to let me build my own cookie workshop in our backyard. Whatever I said, it worked because my workshop was standing less than three weeks later. Special shout out to my family, especially my father for helping me build it. At this point, I had a name, a workshop, an idea, but was starting to run out of personal funds. Now finding an investor to trust me, this little 22-year-old with a dream was stressful. Thankfully I landed myself a deal and used the money to stock my workshop with various equipment and ingredients.
Somehow, I worked out enough kinks to launch my website at the end of November just in time for the Christmas season. Which was a busy month. I think it was the least amount of sleep I had ever had. I was running on passion to achieve my dreams and an unhealthy amount of Redbull. After the holiday season, it felt like the past six months of straight work hit me like I truck. I found myself exhausted and my motivation out the window. It was really hard to pull myself out of that hole. I was dreading working my day job then coming home to try and grow a business. If I’m honest, I was trying and putting in some effort, but nothing like I should have been.
Then one day whilst listening to a podcast, the artist spoke of a mental barrier we have when we rely on our backbone. The backbone being your day job. They said in order to be successful you cannot be scared of failure. With that, I said goodbye backbone and quit my day job. I put all my eggs in one basket. Since then, I have focused on my business every day. Learning more about not only my craft but all the business education that comes with it. Every day I chose success over failure. Now Whipped Up Cookie Co. is growing every day and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me because I am determined to make my dreams come true.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish I could say it was easier than it has been, but I’m thankful for all my struggles as I know they have shaped me into the businesswoman I am today. I would say the biggest struggle I have been battling recently has been trying to balance the life of doing it all. Whipped Up Cookie Co. is a one woman show and I think some people don’t truly know what that looks like. People see my business and see the cookies I produce and think it’s mixing up some cookies and throwing them into a box. But little do they know I’m not just Samantha the cookier. I’m Samantha the cookier, the janitor, the dishwasher. I’m Samantha, the accountant, the purchaser, the business analyst. I’m Samantha, the website designer, the social media manager, the product/packaging designer, and I could go on. There’s so much behind the scenes that go into running a business and it’s hard to balance not only the physical aspect but wrapping your head around it all is mentally taxing. I’ve had to learn to manage my time well and prioritize both the cookies and the business side of things. Every day I learn something new about this field and I know I will get better with time. Yes, there are times when motivation drops and it’s hard to crawl out of bed. You think what’s the point, or is it all worth it? But only one little success has to happen to push the doubt out the window. I believe it is important to celebrate the little successes in life, sometimes they mean more than the big ones.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am the proud owner of Whipped Up Cookie Co. a local online-based cookie shop. I offer a range of cookies from classic homemade sleeves to bite size edible cookie dough.
My specialty though is my hand-decorated cookies. I am an artist and cookies with frosting and some food coloring is my medium. Each set of cookies I whip up are their own masterpiece. Every set starts with a design, theme or idea, which is then drawn up. There is some baking involved, but my favorite part is watching the ideas come to life. With every piped line, painted color or dash of pearl dust, I create my own mini art pieces. And what better way to enjoy them than to be able to eat them too!
Being able to brighten up moods by whipping up cookies for a party or celebration is why I love my business. A past chef of mine once said, “There is nothing better than a good homemade chocolate chip cookie.” It’s true, there is so much power behind a well-made cookie. They are perfect for any and every occasion.
On my website, you can order my cookie sleeves and bite-size edible cookie dough. All custom orders though are handled via email. I like talking to my customers making sure we can make the perfect cookies for their occasions. I absolutely love the art of pastry and will continue to share my talents and help spread joy one cookie at a time.
Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
When it comes to finding a mentor or networking my advise would be; don’t go looking too hard for it. The best things in life come naturally when paired with hard work. If you set your mind to achieving a goal and you put in the effort to make it happen, life will fall in place for you. Whether that’s finding a mentor or meeting just the right person. One day you will come across the perfect opportunities. Now that’s big or small. Personally, when I had the opportunity to work under Gonzo Jimenez, that was something I earned after six months of schooling. The honor of working with him offers me numerous opportunities that I wouldn’t have ever been given the chance if I did not work hard throughout pastry school.
On the other hand, I listen to a wide range of podcasts whilst decorating cookies. While doing so, I have found some of my favorite mentors by stumbling across the right podcast. Either the one I’m listening to have become a mentor(s) or they have a guest I find inspiring. These mentors are people who have helped shape my mentality for running my own business. They have given me words of encouragement by talking about common struggles. They have been the voice I needed when the people around me just did not have the answers. Even though this doesn’t require much hard work. I’m still actively learning from the environment around me. I choose to listen to those podcasts and in turn they inspire me to work harder. Then who knows what will happen from there. Mentors don’t have to be these big figures in your life, but more or less anyone who helps you along your journey.
- Website: www.whippedupcookieco.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whippedupcookieco/
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/whippedupcookieco