Meet Beverly Clutter, a nurse who spends her time outside of work baking cookies and cakes for her community. Her home-based bakery, WV Cookie Jar, is located in Fairmont, West Virginia, and specializes in custom sweet treats.
What did you do before starting your business?
“Before I started my home based baking business, I worked full-time as a nurse — and I still do. I spent much of my free time with my husband and son, but my situation changed,” Beverly said. “My husband changed jobs and had to work later into the evening, and my son is 18 and always out of the house doing his own thing. I took advantage of my new situation and began selling my baked goods.”
What is the WV Cookie Jar origin story?
“My business started as a hobby and only later progressed to a business,” Beverly said.
One year, she volunteered to make decorated sugar cookies for her church’s Christmas cookie trays. “I had never made a decorated sugar cookie before, and I found out how difficult and time-consuming they really were,” she said. The cookies turned out great, though.
“They turned out beautifully, and people started asking me to make them cookies for special occasions,” Beverly said. “These were family and friends and that really wasn’t an issue, but then their family and friends started asking me to make cookies for their occasions also.”
“That’s when I started a Facebook page and called it WV Cookie Jar. It was really just to show off my progressing skills as a cookie decorator and baker. Then people started sending me messages trying to order my cookies, and I knew that I probably had a business. I looked into making it legal. Luckily, this was exactly the time that West Virginia passed their cottage food laws, which are amazing and allow for me to bake at home and sell my bakes.”
How would you describe your product(s) in one sentence?
“WV Cookie Jar makes delicious treats to make your every occasion extra sweet.”
What's your favorite way to enjoy your product(s)?
“My favorite way to enjoy my products is with a big glass of cold milk or a nice dark cup of coffee,” Beverly said. “Who doesn’t like cake or cookies for breakfast, lunch or dinner?”
Who is another food artisan that you follow and support?
“A local cottage food baker I follow and support is Higgins Sweet Treats. She makes macarons that are so delicious,” Beverly said. “This is the one treat I rarely make and have not mastered.”
What's the best thing about this job?
The sweetest part of her baking gig, Beverly says, is getting to share her treats with others.
“The absolute best part about my baking is getting to be part of someone’s very special day and making it extra sweet,” Beverly said. “I love the feedback I get sometimes. I just made a five-year-old’s birthday cake last week. His mother asked him what the best part of his birthday was and he said the cake. Be still my heart!”
What's your best piece of advice to share with new food entrepreneurs?
Beverly offered two pieces of advice to aspiring or new food artisans: nail down your recipes, and do your research on laws and requirements for your cottage food business.
“Before you start, make sure you’ve perfected your recipes and that they are unique so people can’t just get what you make anywhere,” she said.
“Also make sure you understand there’s a lot more to it than just the baking. To me, that’s the easy part. Learn about taxes in business.”