Amber Wyatt made her business from scratch.
Wyatt founded MHK Cookie Co. in 2017 and has grown it into a full-time gig. A home baker turned professional, Wyatt has spent the last few years refining her baking and decorating skills.
“It’s still hard to believe that it’s a full time job,” she said. “I’ve done so many different orders for so many people that have trusted me. It feels really good.”
Wyatt has always enjoyed baking but her real baking journey started with a fun night in with her daughter, Jaiden. They were watching a baking show during the Christmas season in 2017 and started looking up tips on how to create elaborate designs at home. They didn’t have all the tools they needed but played around with what they did have.
“We only had one cookie cutter, and it was a heart,” she said. “We didn’t have piping bags.”
Wyatt created fox cookies and her daughter made strawberries. The final products were far from TV worthy but Wyatt enjoyed the experience anyway.
“We made our first cookies and they were a mess but I really loved it,” she said.
She received her first paid order, birthday cookies for a friend’s daughter, in January 2018.
Wyatt, 35, grew up in Topeka and Manhattan and graduated from Manhattan High School in 2005. She moved back to Manhattan about 10 years ago.
When she started exploring baking, she was working at Pediatric Associates in Manhattan full-time, but went part-time when her younger two children went into daycare. Wyatt has three children: Jaiden, 15, Turner, 8, and Eleanor, 5. She and her husband, Brian, decided they couldn’t afford to send both to daycare so Wyatt went part-time at her job and dove in to the cookie business. She started taking cookies to real estate offices in town to try to drum up orders.
“It wasn’t a huge leap,” she said. “It was just progressing, filling my calendar more every week until I was booked.”
Her children don’t help her with orders, but Wyatt said they do enjoy being in the kitchen with her.
“They do help out with taste testing and they love to sit in there and decorate,” she said. “I’ll make extra ones all the time or if I have extra dough left over they can roll out their own designs.”
Wyatt said she used websites like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media to see how other bakers executed certain designs. Getting it right took a lot of experimenting, she said.
“It’s a lot of trial and error,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just kind of a mistake that happens and the next day you’re like, ‘That actually looks kind of cool.’”
She’s even reached out to other local cookie bakers for advice and said it’s a good, helpful community.
To create some more detailed or recognizable designs like logos or cartoon characters, Wyatt uses a projector and traces the design onto the cookie.
“That was my first big purchase,” she said.
She’s also learned techniques to handpaint icing with water and vodka and texture it with parchment paper.
She said some clients give her a general theme and a lot of freedom to fit the design to it. She said she sometimes pulls inspiration from things like wallpaper, greeting cards or wrapping paper.
“You can pull designs out of everything,” she said.
Some of Wyatt’s favorite designs are ones that represent a familiar concept or character in a slightly abstract way.
“You can tell what it is by the colors, but it’s an abstract design of the character,” she said.
As her business has grown, Wyatt said she’s learned how to manage the scaled up operations. It took time but she has developed a better system than she had in the early days.
“When I first started I would work first thing in the morning all the way to midnight, but now I’ve learned to do things in a better time frame so it’s a lot less stressful,” she said.
Wyatt said friends have told her to branch into cakes or macarons, but she’s happy to stick with cookies.
“I know what I’m good at,” Wyatt said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m good at.”