Kingston has always been home to innovation and growth, and recently a small cookie decorating business, Sweet Treats by Nadia opened for business. Nadia Gundert, owner and chief baker, has spent years using her talents with sugar and flour to create masterful desserts as a side project. This year she went public and made the leap to small business owner.
When asked what inspired her on her journey to small business owner, the answers are varied.
“My husband Mike and I’s first Christmas, we decided to bake cookies together and bring them to our family celebrations. While we had fun baking, our decorating skills were less than stellar and the icing we thought would be great for our gingerbread cookies was a disaster,” Gundert explained.
“I was determined to step it up next time, because this was embarrassing! So, I started googling icing recipes, and saw some amazing blogs with incredibly decorated cookies. After MANY failed attempts to find the perfect icing that would survive our 3 hour drives to visit family on holidays, I found a royal icing recipe that worked… and then it began! I started experimenting with the icing and getting creative as to what I could design, and my love of baking and decorating began!”
Gundert’s love for baking up sweet treats only continued to grow as her family did, she expressed.
“As we had our kids, I started making custom cakes and cookies for their birthdays. I enjoy party planning, so I loved being able to complement a birthday, party, or seasonal theme and coming up with yummy, creative treats!”
When asked why she turned her passion into a business, it was the encouragement of friends and family members that motivated her.
“Friends would see cookies I made for holidays or parties and wanted to know if I would make them for their kid’s parties. Some started to ask how to make the icing, and how to do certain decorating techniques, so I was able to use my love of teaching to help them learn, too! I’d have some ladies over for a girl’s night and we would just hang out and decorate!”
Between hosting exciting nights of cookie decorating, the encouragement pushed Gundert into her new role.
“Many people started to suggest that I do this part time or full time and I really hadn’t given it too much thought. After a lot of encouragement, love and support from my amazing family and friends, I decided to explore the possibility of making this new love of mine into a dream business opportunity. Doors opened quickly and with a lot of hard work, here I am, the owner of Sweet Treats by Nadia. I love to make people happy, so this is one way that I can share my creativity, spread joy and help others celebrate special moments in life!”
Starting a business in Kingston is not a simple task. Gundert found out that as she began to investigate all the hoops she would need to jump through to get going.
“Last summer, I discovered that the Health Protection and Promotion Act regulations had changed regarding food premises and that I could bake out of my own kitchen if I got approval from the city and various agencies that would need to inspect it, including Public Health, the fire department, and the building and planning committee at the City of Kingston. I started doing my research, met with a bunch of officials to ask questions, and started moving forward,” Gundert expressed.
“Everyone I spoke to was so helpful, and willing and ready to answer the many questions I had. I got my food handling certificate from Public Health, had all my inspections approved, and applied for my business license. In under a month, I was able to pull everything together and on Feb 1 of this year I ‘opened’ for business! I’m pretty sure the City said I was the first approved kitchen in Kingston under the new regulations. So that was exciting!”
On her journey through the start-up process, Gundert was able to use the many workshops available through KEDCO to help guide her along and answer questions she might have had.
“There are a lot of resources locally, which is awesome! I also had several friends that were able to point me in the right direction and help connect me with the right people and organizations as I started up,” she said.
So, what is Gundert hoping to accomplish now that she has entered the business world?
“Right now, this is something I am doing on the side. I have a job with the Archdiocese of Kingston as Coordinator of Youth Ministry, and a young family, so life is full and fun! I have a super supportive husband and a ‘village’ to help us care for the kids. I have been setting aside specific time to do my baking and decorating each week and continue to look for opportunities to share my creativity and encourage others to do the same through my workshops,” said Gundert, noting all of the cookie-related activities she’s got planned for the year ahead.
“I am partnering with the Midland Avenue Loblaws to be a guest instructor for four seasonal cookie decorating workshop this year. I am already fully booked for orders for March, which is exciting, and I did a Valentine pre-order and sold out! I am offering a ‘Kid’s March Break Cookie Decorating Workshop’ the Friday of March Break and an Easter workshop at Loblaws on Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019. I’ve also been able to donate my cookies to several charitable events in the community. I am excited to see where this goes! There seems to be a lot of interest so that is encouraging, and I am so appreciative to be able to do something I love. It’s a sweet world after all!”
If you are looking for a sweet treat, you can reach Nadia in multiple ways, including through her website www.sweettreatsnadia.com, which has custom cookie and workshop info on it. She can also be found at on Facebook at @sweettreatsbynadiagundert and Instagram @sweettreatsbynadiagundert.
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