Meet Amanda McMonigle, a baker and cookie decorating expert based in southern Indiana. As she fell in love with baking and decorating cookies, she found herself wanting to bake more than her family could eat themselves, so she began selling decorated sugar cookies to her community as The Whimsical Cookie. Get to know Amanda below:
What did you do before starting your business?
“Baking and making cookies is a hobby,” Amanda said. “When my family didn’t want to eat all of the cookies I was wanting to bake, I just put them out there and found out that, apparently, people really love them! My business has grown since then as I’ve started offering holiday-themed cookies, cookies for other events during the year, custom orders, and others.”
What is the origin of The Whimsical Cookie?
“I’ve always baked goods, especially at the holidays, but the truth is that I’ve never enjoyed cut out sugar cookies,” Amanda said. “They were a lot of work, the icing was always messy.”
“But my son always loves watching the holiday cookie shows on Food Network. If you’ve ever watched them, you know that they pull out all of the stops with their decorations, and they use a lot of royal icing.”
“This year, during the holidays, we were making cookies together, and I pulled up a recipe for royal icing. That was really the start of getting into decorated cookies,” Amanda said. “Then I went through the rabbit hole and took an online class — the extra free time due to Covid closures gave me a lot of time to explore this. And I found out that I really enjoy it, and I am good at the basic designs.”
How would you describe your cookies in one sentence?
“Fun, whimsical, delicious, premium quality cookies.”
That fun and whimsy carries through in every cookie that Amanda bakes.
“I wanted to think of a fun word when I was naming my business, and truth be told, my business name had a lot to do with what was available on social media!”
“Somehow I got to the word ‘whimsical’ because I wanted the cookies to be fun and different. I’m always finding myself trying to use color palettes that are different from the usual, and designs that are unique,” Amanda said.
What's your favorite way to enjoy your products?
“Don’t get me wrong — I love to eat my cookies, but honestly, that’s not the best part of this for me.”
“Delivering a box of cookies, getting that box into someone’s hands and presenting them with a beautiful package is so important to me,” Amanda said. “I probably spend way too much money on the bows, the tags, the stickers. I always give a ‘thank you’ cookie tied on with a bow to give the person who ordered them an extra treat.”
“Making the cookies brings me joy, so I want to bring others joy when they eat them or gift them to someone else,” Amanda said. “Last week I made some smiley face cookies, but I made too many. I asked if anyone wanted to buy them as a gift for someone. My customers ended up taking them and using them to put a smile on a friend’s face. Another person who bought the extras had me drop them off to her office staff at her school.”
Who is another food entrepreneur that you follow, and what do you like about them?
“On social media, I love following the Frosted Cookiery, the Graceful Baker, and the Cookie Makin Mama. The first two are both really good educational resources for any cookier. I learn a lot from them. Today, I even used a gold color that they told me to buy from their Instagram stories! The Cookie Makin Mama’s story is similar to mine, she’s a mom, she’s started at home, now she’s got a lot of cookies. It’s just fun to follow people who are in similar situations to you.”
What's the best thing about this hobby?
“I love that I get to use the skills that I already have and do something that I truly enjoy while being able to stay at home. I love that I get to share that with others,” Amanda said.
“It’s funny because I’ve thought about starting a party planning business. The problem with that is it would require me to be away on the weekends which wouldn’t work. It’s fun to see this be a part of those special occasions.”
What advice would you share with food entrepreneurs who are getting started?
“If this is something you want to do, just try it! You never know until you try. Put it out there and see what happens. Oh, and you have to spend money to make money,” Amanda said.
“Make sure to give people your product to try so that you can then get reviews and feedback on what they like or dislike and make your products better.”
When a customer does share feedback, share it with your other customers, too.
“If someone texts me or says something about my cookies, I put it into a testimonial that I can share on social media.”
When it comes to marketing her business, Amanda says social media is a powerful tool.
“Any sharing on social media is helpful. I’ve been making Reels and posting consistently, and I think that what people enjoy the most when they follow me is seeing things presented in new ways. They like that I’m showing the process behind making cookies, I don’t always just show the finished product. I show the stages and let them into the process of running a baking business.”