If I told you that one year ago, Jess Abrons had never decorated a sugar cookie in her life, would you believe me?! I don’t even believe myself when I say it, but it’s true!! If you asked Jess one year ago, she would not believe she’d be running a thriving cookie business either, but here we are. A hobby born out of despair, turned into a business that provided hope, which now brings reactions of joy and amazement to others. Whiskey Crumbs has given Jess a renewed outlook on life while she admits, “I was at such a low, cookies saved my life.” Come along on this winding journey and let Jess’s story inspire you as much as it did me.
Goals & Ambition From a Young Age
Born in Berlin, Germany, Jess spent time growing up in both the U.S. and Germany but knew from a young age, she wanted to live in America and go to college. Her parents divorced and she lived with her mom in Germany from about 7-12 years old. During this time, she attended after-school baking classes which provided her first taste of her future love. Yet she yearned to get back to America, so her grandparents took her in, and she lived with them through her teenage years. She is incredibly grateful to them for this opportunity and also credits her grandmother for truly teaching her how to bake. However, upon graduating high school, she went into nursing, which was also her grandmother’s profession.
Jess, with a master’s degree in nursing, worked contently for many years in the field. But when Covid hit, she pivoted a bit and started working as a traveling nurse across Texas. Yet during those weeks of long hours, Jess started noticing that her energy level was not recovering like it used to. She felt fatigued and could not bounce back, so she went to her doctor. Sure enough, after thorough testing, they knew something was off. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosu, or Lupus, as it’s commonly called. Yet even with a firm diagnosis, Jess, “was in serious denial,” for a long time. She kept trying to take on life at the rigorous pace while also mourning and grieving the good health she thought she had.
Jess is married to a wonderful husband and has three amazing kids, which have always been her main purpose and priority. She couldn’t help but feel very sad for how she thought her life might look moving forward. While her family still lifted her up and gave her motivation, she admits that she was in a very low place and was craving something for herself.
Christmas Potluck Magic
Last Dec 2021, Jess was watching the Christmas Cookie Challenge with her daughter when her aunt called and asked what she’d be bringing for the Christmas potluck. Without hesitating, she said, “I’ll bring sugar cookies!” Jess thought, “how hard can it be?” We had a good laugh about that! And on Dec 14, 2021, Jess made her first decorated sugar cookies. She shared, “they were hideous! So bad!” But she was determined to figure it out and two days later, she tried again. There was a noticeable improvement and she said, “I was completely hooked.” Here are Jess’s first cookies she made last Dec!
The following week, Jess brought cookies to the Christmas potluck that was she proud of! She couldn’t wait to get back home and keep baking more. And Jess shared, “It was the first time in a long time, I felt worthy. I had something to look forward to.” It ended up being just the creative outlet she needed and something she could have for herself. Just reflecting on this stage of her life, Jess gets emotional since she now fully appreciates what a turning point this was for her. Here is one of the cookies Jess brought to the potluck, about 10 days after her first decorating attempt.
You Should Start a Business
With Jess’s new hobby, she was giving away cookies to everyone in her circle. She was commonly hearing, “you should start a business!” Which she would quickly brush off. Until…she stopped brushing it off and decided to take the leap. Whiskey Crumbs, which serves the Austin, Texas metro area, was born in February of this year.
One of her best friends, Jessica, urged her to attend CookieCon, the largest conference for all things cookie decorating. Feeling inferior, Jess attended with her bestie determined to make the most of the experience. She immersed herself in classes during the convention and she is SO grateful Jessica convinced her to go! That’s what besties are for…they commonly know what’s best for you.
Over the course of this year, Jess has built a name for herself by participating in markets and through social media neighborhood and foodie groups. Her comfortable volume for a typical week is 15-20 dozen cookies, which is a lot for the level of detail in her cookies! But she has found a good balance of prioritizing her family, her health and listening to her body. She’s also SUPER excited for her business’s first big holiday season!
How Has She Excelled So Quickly?!
Now I’m going to venture out and say that the speed at which Jess has developed her skills and her business is not typical. But I also believe with passion and drive, anyone can make HUGE progress when they put their mind to something. As we’ve all heard many times, anything worth having or mastering is not going to come easy.
However, Jess did take advantage of a couple key classes which made a difference. One look at Jess’s work and you can tell she is incredibly talented with florals! Jess credits THIS class with “enabling me to excel in my florals.” And of course, plenty of YouTube and trial and error. She also took a live class at CookieCon, put on by Kim’s Confections, which focused on airbrushing. A technique she has really fallen in love with! Jess believes, “airbrushing can completely elevate your cookie to look amazing and give dimension.”
Jess loves thinking outside the box, creating unique cookies outside the commonly trending styles. Not only has this resonated with her customer base but gives a distinct style to her cookies.
Whiskey Crumbs Advice and Favorites
When I asked Jess if there are tools or products she can’t live without, she quickly responded with her love of Chua Mats. Many cookiers have a love for these mats, especially for the even, grid aesthetic they provide. You see, Jess is a part of a minority of cookiers who actually decorate the bottom of their cookies! They love the flatness and smoothness you achieve when decorating the bottom. Give it a try, you may love it too!
Jess also shared how helpful Vodka can be in decorating! I know what you’re thinking…we’ve all had those orders, but Jess was referring to using it much like a magic eraser! Say what?! Yes, it’s true! According to Jess, she moistens a paintbrush and commonly uses it to erase edible marker mistakes or lighten airbrushing errors. How did I not know this? She also uses it to camouflage craters when they occur in her icing. Simply add a little icing to the crater and smooth it out with a vodka-moistened paintbrush. Mic drop.
When it comes to advice Jess has for aspiring cookiers, she shared a couple helpful nuggets. First, “Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t sacrifice time with your loved ones for a cookie order.” And secondly, “Don’t be so hard on yourself; we are our own worst critics.” We had a good chuckle over this since as cookiers, we spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at these cookies, aiming for perfection. Yet customers typically take a quick look and eat; they will never notice the imperfections we stress over. Plus, imperfections are what makes these creations unique and special, we are not machines!
What’s Ahead for Whiskey Crumbs?
Jess is loving this hobby-turned-business that has given her a renewed excitement for the future! She intends to keep prioritizing her family, health and cookies along with the special friends and encouragers that have played such a huge role. “The most joy I get from doing cookies is seeing the people’s faces. To see their happiness, is so fulfilling.” And considering her fan favorite cranberry white chocolate cookies are coming into season, I suspect Jess is going to be seeing a lot of that joy.
I hope Jess’s windy and unexpected journey has inspired you as much as it has me. You never know what might be right around the corner and you just have to take the leap. It’s been a privilege to get to know Jess and tell this story. She hasn’t had an easy road but she’s so grateful for this destination. I wish her all the success and happiness as her business thrives!
You can connect with Jess via her socials below and website linked HERE. But first, enjoy this stunning gallery of Jess’s work!
Sign up to receive my newsletter!