It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to create cookies as remarkable as those that Hollister home baker Kara Loupe sells through 831BakeShop.
“Basic drop cookies take three steps,” she said. “You mix the dough, you scoop them on a baking sheet, you bake them, and you’ve got a cookie. There are a minimum of 10 steps that go into my cookies, from creating the dough to making and coloring the frostings to doing the decorating. There is a lot of work behind every single one.”
The results of her efforts are custom-made, beautifully designed cookies that are perfect for parties, weddings and events.
With 10 years in the business, Loupe has found a growing clientele for her work through pop-up sales, as well as postings on Facebook, Instagram and her website, accumulating 2,500 followers and a mailing list of 400 customers.
“Kara is a very sweet person with a very artistic talent,” said B&R Farms co-owner Mari Rossi. “I have ordered from her many times and I also enjoy having her at the events we hold at the farm. She always seems to be selling out whatever she brings and they are always very high-end cookies with beautiful designs.”
Loupe began baking while still working for Boeing Company, where she handled details around private flights. What began as a hobby evolved into a business.
“I started this the way a lot of women do,” Loupe said. “They bake something for their kids, people like it and start asking if you can make something for them. So I just eased into having a business. It is a little complicated to get your permits—and you need to submit the recipes and labels you are going to be using—but it is easier to do it here in San Benito County compared to some other places.”
When Loupe founded her business in 2012, she also offered cakes and cupcakes. But after six years, she pared her business down to just the cookies, making anywhere from eight to 13 dozen a week.
“I decided I liked doing the decorated cookies the best,” she said, “because cakes stressed me out. With cakes, you only have one cake and if something happens to it, what do you do? I was getting enough orders with just the cookies, so I moved right into specializing on those.”
Loupe prices her work according to its size and complexity, with a two-dozen cookie minimum order. Her usual orders are for special occasions such as weddings, baby or bridal showers and retirements or business events including the recent San Benito County Cattlemen’s and CattleWomen’s Dinner.
“People tell me about the theme of their event and then we work out designs,” she said. “Then the price range goes according to how complicated they are, anywhere from $48 to $72 a dozen, with the more expensive cookies getting into things like multiple colors, airbrushing, and hand-painting with silver or gold.”
The cookies might seem expensive, but there is a lot that goes into their creation. Loupe said she is not worried about the people she teaches turning into her competition because one of the things they learn is how much work is involved.
“I actually timed myself once making an order of a dozen cookies for $4.50 each,” she said. “Whenever I was doing something, from starting to make the dough to the final touches, I put the timer on. It added up to 12 hours, start to finish. Each one takes about 80 cents in ingredients, so it means I make about $3.70 an hour, which is not exactly a living wage. You have to love to do this—it has to be a passion.”
Loupe said she enjoys baking and appreciates people who recognize and appreciate her art, as does longtime customer Mary Chase.
“I hate to eat them because they are so pretty,” she said. “Every cookie is a masterpiece. They are always delicious, too. I can say that if people order cookies from her, they are going to be the highlight of their event.”
BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market for helping expand our Eat, Drink, Savor series. Hollister Super and Windmill Market support reporting on the people behind the many food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.