Startup Connect

Geçen senenin sonlarına doğru yayına geçen bir siteden ticarete nasıl başladığımı anlatan bir makale yazmamı istemişlerdi. Aylar oldu yazıp Jozef’e göndereli. Yayınlamışlar, kurabiyelerimin fotoğraflarını da koymuşlar… İngilizce bu makaleyi görüntülemek isteyen buraya tıklayabilir…

“I sell decorated cookies! Something any non-working women can do. What is special about my cookies however is that, they are fully personalized. And colorful. Serving birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, I am sharing special days of hundreds of people. A nice giveaway for the guests. I do that at home, bake cookies in my standard oven. If you want to earn your living at home, decorated cake or cookie business is a great & simple alternative. Here is my story as to how I started and how I grew the business.

How I started
It is the same story for most cookie decorators. I had seen nice and colorful cookies in Vienna, at the times I was living in Slovakia. It was a miracle to be able to bake and decorate such cookies by then. Upon my return to homeland, I had a baby girl, and decided to decorate some tooth shaped cookies, to celebrate the first tooth of my daughter. That was the time when my mother introduced me to fondant; a colorful decorating edible sugar paste. It was a great giveaway for my guests, as they loved the idea of a cookie on the party concept; and more interestingly for everyone, a cookie bearing my daughter’s name, ECE.

After then, I started baking and decorating cookies for everyone I loved, for any concept. Valentine’s Days, Birthdays, Weddings, First Tooth Celebrations, welcome summer… my family started making fun of me as I was spending a lot of money on the equipment. I told them, I will start a website, sell some cookies, get the money I spent on equipment back… and they will remain silent. Here is how it all started. I prepared a very simple, yet easy to navigate website including my cookies and their prices.

It was a big event at our home, when I received my first order for someone who had to get it delivered in a couple of hours… most probably she would not trust a beginner

decorator had this not been last minute requirement. I was happy when I was able to return the investment, the equipment cost and I knew by then that this would not stop there.

Next step was turning this business into a legal entity.

Today, selling hundreds of personalized cookies every day, I still feel I am an amateur. I carefully take opportunities to grow, and do not rush into quick and easy growth. Careful steps are less risky!

I know the key to success in this business is working hard and I know I have to organize myself and my priorities really well as I am still working professionally for an IT company; I have a family (most importantly a child to take care of). I respect every customer who calls me, and make sure their expectations are met the way they wish to see (ie, will never delay a birthday surprise…so I would need to always have a B plan).

How to differentiate oneself
It started to be a popular area for business amongst many women, so it is important to provide professional products and attitude to customers. Packaging is also important. I buy boxes, baskets and accessories to make it look perfect. Each cookie is individually packed in a jelatine bag and nicely tied with a ribbon. All cookies are then placed in a basket or elegant gift box, covered in professional covering materials. It is for sure more costly than giving cookies in a bag, but it surely pays off.

The only difficulty however is that it is a labour-intensive work. I believed there would be many other areas with less work but better gain, however, given that these cookies are the trend these years and that people will celebrate birthdays and special days forever, I selected cookie decoration. On the other hand it is fun and creative and colorful. More importantly, serving always happy days and celebrations, and sharing these moments makes myself happy as well.

Word-of-mouth communication is one important aspect of my business. People see friends giving away my cookies, or talking about them… here is how they get to checking my website. I do my best to make sure, everyone gets to see something for themselves on my webstore. A message for the beloved one, or a happy birthday wish, a goodbye to soldier on military obligation, anniversaries etc.

It is my belief that I have become a well-known and well-selling cookie decorator very quickly despite the hundreds of women doing this business, because of my marketing background. I started with promotions, surprise gifts to customers, free cookies to people I knew… and this created awareness amongst hundreds of people. My website is another strong factor, because I am an amateur web designer as well. I loved Google, and Google loved me back. So when people asked about decorated cookies, Google was quick to recommend me. Once many people ordered from me, word-of-mouth helped as well. I took every order, even if non-paid, very seriously and delivered my best. I always made surprises to the customers; still do. I do not care about a few lost Liras; I can earn less to make sure customer will smile.

Cake Decoration
Many people ask me to go into cake business as well, but I will not do that! I do decorate cakes, but only for my beloved ones. Because cookies are easy to manage, they remain fresh long time. With cakes; baking the cake takes too long time, more than 1 day, which is not the piece I like. Cakes are also difficult to deliver, especially if they are big or if the weather is hot.

Online Businesses
For many housewives, Internet offers the best store to rent to start a business. First of all it is free, if you wish to sell through blogs, or the cost is very low to start a website. Cost is however on updating the website, if you don’t know how to do it yourself; so blogs appear as the best option. There is no shop window so that is a great cost saving. All I bought was equipment to prepare the cookies. Without website; working from home will not work that well…it will be limited to people you know, and they know.

Managing websites
I also pay specific attention to my website and photographs. If you take photos of your products on your sofa, it will surely not look very professional. The more professional everything looks, the more likely it is that your products will sell! It can be concluded that, online sellers – if doing this business alone, have to have a bit of talent in most things they should do – online management, photography, writing for blogs etc.

Starting with blogs might be best option as it is free and more close to customers. People love companies with blogs, because it is friendly and because they quickly feel part by following.

Blogs should be frequently updated and fun, interesting and appealing to the customer. Interactive websites, where you reply to the customers are also very much liked. People love to comment on posts! Free gifts also help! Ask blog visitors to comment to a selected post, so they could earn a gift, ie the winner would. This would bring in a lot of traffic if the gift is of interest. Very typical approach that many successful bloggers follow.

Facebook – Twitter
Must have options for today, facebook and twitter are hot. People ‘like’ or ‘share’ any online. It is simple to update facebook pages. I simply copy paste the link of my latest blog into my Facebook page, which then automatically selects a photo, and takes the title and the first sentences of the post. Rule of thumb, these pages should be interesting as well. Videos are loved more than texts!
I started also to give trainings. A group of people get together, AT MY HOME, and we decorate cookies on my dinner table. That simple! Growth in the business.

These cookies are expensive. They are baked and decorated on order (which is good that I do not keep stock) and will be made just the way customer wants. That has a cost to the customer and myself. Each individual cookie takes a lot of time to prepare, so I price every single cookie. These cookies are not sold on kilos.

Cargo companies are of great use. They deliver the next day, to all over Turkey (slightly later to villages in east) and they are very economic. So, I see no need to setup a distribution system on my own, but make use of these worldwide cargo companies. I am today able to deliver anywhere in the world, however keep this limited to Turkey for the time being. Just because food cannot be exported that easily, given customs regulations.

I lived for 2 years in Slovakia, and at the time I was always missing the ability to buy a good cake for celebrations. I could sometimes find, but it was not possible to personalize, ie get written ‘Happy Birthday’ by chocolate or whatever. It is my belief that this would really start well in a country where sweets are loved. Make a lot of decorated cakes (simple to learn online), get ideas from many decorators online and take their nice photographs (as professional as possible).

To finalize, people will always celebrate, so decorated and personalized cookies & cakes might be forever interesting to have for these celebrations. I strongly recommend this as a nice to do business at home, and am more than happy to share any insight I can for those who are interested.

My blog address is (I try to keep an English website, although not taken as seriously as the Turkish one)

And my sales website is for those who would wish to check for ideas.
Feel free to contact me at elif AT on any cookie decoration with fondant related topics.