Meet Angela Munise, a home-based baker located in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. She’s grown her home bakery, Picket Fences Sweets, by creating delectable sweets that are finished with artful decorations. Keep reading to learn more about how she’s grown her home food business.
What did you do before starting Picket Fences Sweets?
“I went to school in Wisconsin, did an internship on the east coast, and became the director of activities at a big resort in Cape Cod,” Angela said.
After her son was born, Angela and her husband moved back to Wisconsin, near where she grew up. “I needed help, so we moved closer to family,” she said. It was there that Angela rediscovered her passion for baking as a creative outlet.
“I’ve always been creative, and am that person who’s always wanting to do activities, arts and crafts.”
What is your business' origin story?
Growing up, Angela spent a lot of time baking with her mom.
“That was something that I enjoyed that kind of stuck with me,” Angela said. She would bake her son's birthday cakes, making and decorating the cake from scratch. “People at work started asking if I made these cakes myself, they couldn't believe they weren’t store bought,” she said. Her cousin encouraged Angela to turn her love of baking into a business, saying that the treats were good enough to sell. After that same cousin created a logo and website for Angela, Picket Fences Sweets was born.
"My specialty is cookies. I can sit for hours and decorate cookies. I make hand-decorated vanilla cookies, and they’re not too sweet.”
“I really love doing bridal shower cookies, because everyone always has different themes,” Angela said. “I love it when they come to me with an idea but they’re not sure how to execute. Like ‘ok, we’re doing a fiesta theme, how can we translate that to a cookie?’”
Angela’s cookies also have a secret: many are keto-friendly. “I was on keto for a few months to help my immune system reset,” Angela said. “I have major sugar cravings all the time, so I was developing peanut butter cups and cupcakes that were keto but still tasted amazing.”
“That was one of the big things I focused on when I started the keto diet — it needed to feed the whole family. I didn’t want my kids to think it was something different than what they considered normal. If you know what you’re doing with your ingredients, and it can take a lot of trial and error, keto tastes good.”
How would you describe your products in one sentence?
“Beautiful, homemade goods made from my heart to your home.”
Angela’s entire brand revolves around the concept of home. “The picket fence is very home-y, and being out on the cape, you see a lot of picket fences. It brings back memories and just reminds me of home.”
What's your favorite way to enjoy your products?
“One of my biggest joys is adding in all of the little details on my cookies,” Angela said. “Like for Easter, I was sitting and drawing eyelashes onto bunnies. Drawing bunny cheeks that are all pink and rosy.”
Beyond decorating her cookies, Angela loves delivering her treats and seeing the smiles on her customers’ faces. “It brings me such joy to see people be happy with something I’ve created.”
Who is another food entrepreneur that you follow and support?
“Natalie Vaile of Delicious Unvailed is someone who started her business around the same time as me, about two and a half years ago,” Angela said. “She has these amazing flavors that I would never think to put together, like earl gray tea and pomegranate. I don’t even know how she comes up with them, the flavors she comes up with are amazing. We bounce ideas off of each other. She knows that I do keto work too, so if she gets orders for keto or gluten sensitivity, she sends them to me.”
What's the best thing about this job?
“I really like the freedom that running my own cottage bakery brings. I like being able to work when I can. If I’m not feeling well, I can take a nap or veg out. The flexibility is great, and most of the orders I do can be done in segments, allowing me to take breaks when needed.”
She adds, “It’s nice to be able to be there for my kids while we’re homeschooling right now. Even with my teenager, we’ve been able to spend so much more time together while working from home.”
What's advice would you give to a food entrepreneur who's just getting started?
“I just took a class about how to grow your business, and the thing that stuck out for me was knowing why you’re doing it. It’s great to love what you do, but it’s not going to get you all the way to a successful business. You have to know why you're doing what you're doing,” Angela said.
“My why is making people happy. It’s so gratifying to know that, for example, the stuff I made today is going to three little girls in their Easter baskets. Knowing that is so special. Being able to be part of people’s celebrations is so special.”
In the end, Angela encourages business-curious bakers to go for it. “It’s always worth trying. You don’t have to start big. So many people think they have to set up a business, set up a Facebook and Instagram, but it’s more than that. Get to know your neighbors. I brought things to the firehouse and police department and they ended up posting about it online. People like to support local — so put yourself out there and see if it clicks.”