Austin amateur baker builds cookie business from scratch during COVID-19 outbreak

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(KXAN/Todd Bailey)

Editor’s Note: In this article, Chelsey Weatherford explains she had previously shipped packages of cookies out of state. After reviewing Texas Cottage Laws, Weatherford says she has ceased shipping any food for the foreseeable future.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There’s a “cookie demon” in south Austin and she’s taking names.

“Everybody who knows me knows I love cookies. You could say I’m a ‘cookie monster,’ but I’m a little bit more than that. I’m more of a ‘cookie demon,’ where, once I see cookies, like, they’re gone,” Austin amateur baker Chelsey Weatherford said.

The idea for her small business Cookie Demon Bakery started half-baked.

(KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

“I just went out to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe,” Weatherford said. “I started fiddling with it and had just a surplus of cookies.”

Then friends couldn’t stop talking.

“I posted on my Instagram just saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got some cookies if anybody wants me to just drop them off on their porch?’ Once that happened, it kinda spread from there, where their friends were like, ‘I heard you’re making really great cookies, I want to buy some,’” Weatherford said.

The amateur baker didn’t use to have such a title to her name. Before COVID-19 she only worked as a studio manager. And then she lost her job temporarily.

“My job went inactive. I work in the fitness industry, so we obviously couldn’t hold any fitness classes,” Weatherford said. “I’ve just been hanging out at home since coronavirus started.”

Instead of sitting around, she started baking to keep busy. And now, her busyness is a business.

“It’s kind of blown up from there. Now I have a website and I’m shipping cookies all over,” Weatherford said. “Once I started getting more inquiries about, ‘How can I get your cookies?’ and it got bigger and broader, I just realized I had to start shipping them.”

(KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

She’s baked around 200 orders so far.

“I think yesterday I baked over 100 cookies,” Weatherford said. “This is an everyday thing. I start at like 9 a.m. and I don’t get done until 9 p.m. I do everything from the mixing of the dough to building my packages and baking, then printing out shipping labels. From start to finish, it’s just me. I’m a one-[woman] band.”

She says right now she sees it as a side gig but if she had the opportunity to start her own bakery, she wouldn’t say no.

She has a message for others who might find themselves with time on their hands, either from losing a job or staying inside to social distance.

“It’s been a winding road and there’s been so many bumps, and I’ve learned a lot of IT along the way, and so it’s been really interesting to figure out how to run a website and run a bakery at the same time. I’m totally winging it,” Weatherford said. “Don’t be afraid to fail, and if whatever you’re baking turns out not that great, you can always try again and you learn the most from your failures.”

If you’d like to learn more about what kinds of cookies she bakes and place an order (possibly to a loved one), you can visit her website or keep up-to-date with her baking journey on her Instagram.

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