When I connected with Rachel Smith, owner of Cookie Crafters and saw a sweet profile picture of a little boy with a cancer ribbon, I knew we were meant to connect. I discover bakers in a variety of different ways, usually out of admiration of their talent and work. But it always amazes me, once I learn their background and tell their story, it feels like each baker teaches me something about life. Their stories stay with me, and I hope they stay with you as well. Rachel’s story is one of intense love, hope, strength, courage, loss and faith. I feel privileged to share her story with you.
The Gift of Kai
It was 2007 and Rachel was a couple weeks away from starting a new school year as a teacher when her 14-month-old son, Malachi (Kai), was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This is the same cancer that my 16-year-old son is being treated for now. Rachel had to back out of her teaching position to prioritize her family; she also had another son almost 1 year older than Kai.
Facing the realization that they were now a one-income family, Rachel approached her mom about starting a cookie business. You see, Rachel’s mom was a self-taught cookier who taught Rachel her ways. But they had never SOLD cookies before, they just gave them away to friends and family. So naturally, they were a bit skeptical that people would actually buy cookies! But they dove into it, serving as a shared hobby, good quality time together and a distraction from cancer treatment.
They started giving away more cookies to get their name out, Cookie Crafters. The hospital nurses, church, school, all the people in their world. And sure enough, word spread, and business picked up! Rachel managed her cookie orders while living in and out of the hospital for 2 years.
Here’s the thing about pediatric cancer…the treatment timelines they give you are pretty much best-case scenario timelines. Unfortunately, that best-case scenario treatment plan is realistic for a very small portion of kids. Such was the case for Kai, despite his great spirit, “bubbly personality” and courage. It breaks my heart to tell you that Kai lost his battle after relapsing twice more. Rachel shared, “I am very thankful to God for the time that we had with him. And the ways he changed our life and those around us.” She also shared that she loves any opportunity to talk about Kai who would have turned 16 earlier this month.
Life After Loss
I wish the loss of Kai was the last for this family, but they also lost another baby after Kai, due to Potter Syndrome. I am happy to tell you that Rachel’s family has been blessed with two healthy, amazing daughters, in addition to their oldest son. Rachel returned to the education setting in 2010 and back to teaching in 2018. However, as of last month, she is strictly a full-time cookier which she is so excited about!
While many businesses really struggled during the height of Covid, Rachel’s business really took off! A friend introduced her to cookie kits, which, if you’re not familiar, are simply the baked cookies, bagged icing, and sprinkles to decorate at home. Rachel found that during that time, people in her community were desperate for home activities. So. business started booming again in 2020!
What Does Today Look Like For Cookie Crafters?
Today, the majority of Rachel’s orders are for custom cookies, and she produces 12-20 dozen, on average, every week! While her vanilla sugar cookie is her top selling flavor, she also offers chocolate and churro flavored cookies! Pssst…the churro flavor was the customer favorite during a taste test! 😉
What are Rachel’s goals for the future of her cookie biz? She wants to master more complex floral designs! And she’s hoping to level-out her production now that she’s committed full-time to growing her business. Up until now, she’s had a lot of high-volume and lower-volume weeks and she hopes to stay busy consistently!
What are Rachel’s biggest challenges in her business? Rachel admits that techy, social media stuff is not her jam. Fortunately for her, one of her best friends does all her social media posting for her! Now that is what I call a BESTIE! Rachel is hoping to streamline all her online ordering this year to gain efficiency too!
The Gift of Rachel
If you are near Simi Valley, California, I highly recommend you connect with Rachel of Cookie Crafters for your next cookie fix! She is incredibly talented, kind, resilient and I know where Kai got his bubbly personality from. He inspired a gift in Rachel that lives on every day in her heart and in her amazing work. 🧡
You can connect with Rachel or follow her journey using the links below. I hope you enjoy this gallery of Rachel’s beautiful work!
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