How it all started...
"Let each bite take you to your happy place and savour the moment."
Growing up hopeless in the kitchen, even when it came to boiling an egg. Now building a cookie empire has a lot of people confused - me included.
However, through sheer desperation, determination and stubbornness I now welcome you to my cookie empire (well, the first initial baby steps of a future empire anyway.)
I first attempted to make these cookies in 2007. It’s a cookie I first had as an 8 year old kid on a very slow, stinky ferry ride in the Philippines.
Halfway through the five hour journey, I got really hungry. But my brother, who had the money, was fast asleep and I couldn't wake him up.
So I quickly surveyed our bags, found a pack of these treats that my cousin had sent for her mom.
Very carefully, I unwrapped the pack… with as much finesse and care as you unwrapped your Christmas presents when you did that sneaky pre Christmas check. I helped myself to just enough cookies so the pack didn't look like it had been violated prior to reaching its intended destination, even if I could have easily inhaled that whole thing. I couldn’t leave any evidence!
Since that first bite, I was well and truly hooked. Fortunately, these cookies were fairly common in the Philippines. Unfortunately, not so common in Australia where I migrated back in 2000. Even more unfortunate, I was crazy useless in the kitchen.
In 2007, cookie cravings hit a critical point. With the help of Google, I found a recipe and off I went on my first attempt. I failed miserably! It was a textbook Pinterest fail. At this point, I gave up on my cookie dream leaving my tastebuds miserable and disappointed.
Through the years, I got into baking a bit more - it started with no bake cheesecakes then actual baked cakes and cupcakes with all the pretty, swirly frosting. I made wedding cakes for friends, brought a whole variety of baked goods to work and forced it on everyone.
With the memories of my Pinterest fail cookie attempt slowly fading, I decided to try again in 2015.
Hoorah! They were edible, not just edible but everyone loved them. So different were they to everything else readily available here that the most common response after the first bite was, “Oh wow! I’ve never had anything like this!” with their eyes wide in childlike happiness.
For those who have had something similar they would say that it took them back to their childhood.
Mind you, my initial taste test team were the people on a mine site where I worked. Not only were there lively debates about what the cookie were like or what made it unique. There were also several very lively discussions about who would get the last cookie!
Even when several of my “high vis guinea pigs” would suggest starting a business selling baked treats, it was not an option! I enjoyed baking and seeing the joy in people's faces but sales just wasn’t my thing. And business = sales, therefore YEAH NAH!
Up until mid 2016 when I ended up unexpectedly unemployed. Plan B quickly turned to Plan Baking.
Baked by Erica
Through sheer desperation, determination and stubbornness, I learned to make these cookies. Now through that same sheer desperation, determination and stubbornness, I needed to build a business. Not just for my income but to be able to continue doing good work in the Philippines.
In December 2015, my first Christmas home in over a decade, my partner and I saved up so we could throw a party for over 150 kids and their families in a small farming community in the Philippines. The kids and parents got presents and a feast to celebrate that joyful time of year. We wanted to make it an annual tradition. Being unemployed doesn’t lend to making things like this happen, so I needed another funding avenue.
Baked by Erica was launched in November 2016 as a medium to continue doing our community project and to spread the joy and happiness people felt when enjoying the treats.
Cookies - Taste Good and Do Good
Now our community projects have snowballed into a big hairy audacious goal of setting up a cafe and shop social enterprise which will educate, train, employ, and provide livelihood opportunities to the community.
There’s also the shorter term baby steps goal such as the annual Christmas party and the Food for Thought program. Food for Thought will delivery monthly meals, lessons and activities to 430 primary school children. The lessons and activities are designed to foster the growth mindset in these children, to inspire them to think and live differently.
What started out as a means to fund the party and to help pay the mortgage has now evolved into a life changing enterprise.
This journey has taken me from being useless in the kitchen to I can actually make edible things I crave for. It has taken me from I am unemployed and useless to I am building a cookie empire. It has taken me from just a cookie to life changing cookies. It has taken me from this is going to be hard to this is going to be one heck of a fun filled roller coaster ride.
And I want YOU to join me on this delicious cookie filled life changing journey.