For today’s small business spotlight I am featuring Allan Hursig, the man behind The Bearded Baker! Allan is truly an artist, as you’ll see from the photos I’ve included. I’ve seen (and tasted) lots of custom painted cookies at parties throughout the years, and I really think Allan’s stand above the rest.
His cookies not only taste amazing, but they are surprisingly soft (that seems to not be the case with most painted sugar cookies I’ve had). Allan is friendly and easy to work with – I’ve used him a couple times now – and have always been impressed with his customer service. Follow him on instagram to see all of his creations!
Allan has a pretty unique story. Read it in his words below!
Tell us a little bit about you. How did you get into baking and cookie decoration? What inspired you to create your own business?
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had a pretty standard childhood. Great parents, very supportive with everything I did, which was mainly soccer and school. I spent 10 out of the 12 months playing soccer so I didn’t really bake much growing up other than those Betty Crocker cake and cookie mixes and the occasional tubed cookie dough.
I went to college at the University of Tulsa, where I studied Energy Management (basically a degree to become a Landman in Oil and Gas). Then I graduated, started work with a large oil and gas company, where I worked in Farmington, NM for 3 years. The company eventually moved me to Houston as a “developmental” move. Well, 10 months later, I was laid off, in a city where I had very few connections, a new house I had just bought, and a degree that basically pigeon-holed me into looking solely in oil and gas, in a time where nobody was hiring. So as I was applying for work (and usually not hearing back from anyone) I would watch Food Network, follow food and recipe blogs and try new and homemade things. Cooking. Baking. You name it. It kept me busy and my mind off of life.
I always loved baking, the science, the precision, the creativity. So I tried homemade sugar cookies with royal icing, and….it was pretty bad. But not terrible!!! And I loved doing it! So I did a few sets for friends and family, and after my mom saw one of my sets for a baptism, she brought up the idea of selling them as an in-home baker! So in July of 2016 I made a Facebook page, started my first ever Instagram, and the rest is history!
Have you always been an artist of some sort?
Honestly, before starting the Bearded Baker, I don’t think I would have considered myself an artist at all. The most I ever did was doodle in the margins of my school and business notes. Mainly abstract designs and lines, which, thinking about it, probably helps a lot with cookies. Because, if you break cookie decorating down to it’s simplest parts, it’s just lines and shapes, all fitting together to create fun and beautiful cookies!
What are your favorite orders to work on? Do you one that comes to mind as your all time favorite?
I have a few favorite types! My favorite customer orders are the orders where they give me an idea of what they are looking for, and they let me be creative! I’m not your typical cookier, where they offer boxed sets that are all the same. I rarely like to do the same cookies over and over again, so it’s nice to have creative freedom!
I also love orders with a lot of feeling and emotion behind them. Weddings, baby showers, birthdays, are all amazing. But there are so many reasons to celebrate, and I’m finding out that there are so many beautiful moments in life worth celebrating. I can usually tell from my emails and correspondence with my client how much it means to them, and that really helps motivate me to make amazing cookies for them!
And as for my own personal favorites, I love to mix my passion of music and cookies. I love Texas Country music and going to concerts and, honestly, some of my favorite sets have been the ones I have made to give to the bands (like the one above for the Randy Rogers Band) that have really meant a lot to me over the years.
What piece of advice do you have for small business owners? Do you have any lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Be ready to accept failure. You’re going to fail. Guaranteed. It’s stressful, it puts pressure on relationships, family, personal time. But if you’re passionate, don’t stop. Press on. Pull yourself up and keep going. Find those friends and families and colleagues that will push you forward instead of pulling you down.
Also, find your self worth. When I started, I was selling every order for $35 a dozen. Basic. Elaborate. All for $35 a dozen. I was killing myself for pennies. Some orders will take 10 hours just for final decoration. Trust me, not worth it. But once I got some advice to find my self worth, basically what my time meant to me and my product, I changed my pricing structure, and I was able to really prosper. I found my client market. It made me feel like people appreciated me and my business. It was a very eye opening experience. Sometimes it’s hard as a new entrepreneur to accept that you have a quality product and realize that it’s time to stop being humble. I say that in the most grateful way possible.
What’s next for The Bearded Baker?
I have some secret ideas planned, that I can hopefully get rolling soon! But in short, it’s growing my business as much as I can! Always learning and improving.
Also, I am wanting to do more decorating classes! Holiday classes, Drink and Decorates, Private Events, you name it! We’ll see what comes and where this all takes me! There are so many options, it’s hard to try to keep focus!