Mixing equal portions of creative finesse and business savvy, a local baker has turned her passion into a full-time online business.
“It’s been a whirlwind, because I wasn’t ever expecting it to be a business,” said Ashley Sands. “It was one of those, ‘I’m just doing it for fun,’ and then it’s grown to all of this.”
Sands is the founder, owner and operator of Rolling Pin Bakery, a local gourmet sugar cookie operation that has been making waves in the community over the past year from its digital storefront on Facebook. Sands also sells her creations at Farmhouse Antiques and Vintage on North Main Street, Ottawa. Through Rolling Pin, Sands sells seasonal cookie creations of her own design, often featuring the intricate piping for which she is known.
“You have to have a lot of patience — that’s the thing I’ve learned the most, and I’m not a very patient person,” she said, laughing. “So it’s been a good job, I think, because it is taught me that.”
Sands, a former Pizza Time employee, left her day job to pursue Rolling Pin Bakery full time a year ago. However, the foundation for her love of all things baking began much earlier.
“It actually started with my grandma,” Sands said. “She could make just about anything. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and she taught me how to make just about anything. From there, I grew into liking baking more and more as I grew up.
“She died a little over six years ago now, but one of my favorite things that my grandpa gave me from her was her rolling pin — it was the one that she taught me how to use. So that’s how I came up with ‘Rolling Pin Bakery;’ there’s a little piece of her that will always be in it.”
Right now, the bread-and-butter of Rolling Pin’s business is the sugar cookie. Sands said the versatility of the sugar cookie allows her to continuously try new designs.
“I especially love the ones that I can make look like food -- pizzas, tacos; those are fun,” she said. “I get to come up with my own designs and have unlimited creative freedom with it.”
Sands also puts together seasonal cookie kits, which have been a hit with families.
“[Parents] will send pictures of their kids and how excited they are,” she said. “It’s so fun to see the families come together and have an activity, and not be in front of the TV, but do something fun in creative together. Knowing that you are a little part of that, that’s pretty fun.”
As for the future of Rolling Pin, Sands plans to continue with her business’s online-centric model.
I’m really content with where things are at right now,” she said. “I used to think that having a storefront bakery would be the coolest thing. And never say never, of course, but at this point I really like where it is. I have the freedom to set my own hours and go with life.”
To anyone thinking of mixing their entrepreneurship and cooking skills in a similar fashion, Sands recommends heaping portions of patience and audacity.
“Make sure you have time and patience, and then really have fun with it -- there are just so many possibilities, and that’s something I didn’t know in the beginning,” she said. “Try out everything -- that’s the fun part about it.”