While the lockdown period was characterized by a lack of social interaction and a general sense of fear and panic, the change in pace allowed for some people to rethink their career paths and to hone new skills.
Baker and founder of Craving Cookies, Oneka Morris found herself among those who became inspired to dig deeper into their interests and discovered a new passion through developing the skill set that allowed her to eventually launch her business.
“The pandemic was a really good push for a lot of [people] who were just dormant or looking for something new,” she said, adding she knew quite a few people who were itching to take up new exploits but were unsure of where to channel their energy.
She initially tried a balloon-making class before realizing that it wasn’t her thing. On the suggestion of her aunt, Morris took an online cookie course at the Synergy Training Institute in San Fernando in July 2020.
Admitting that it was her first time baking, she said that would see her mother baking at home and recalled never feeling much of a pull towards baking herself.
Although the art was new to her, Morris acknowledged her “spirit of creativity” and the inspiration to experiment in the kitchen took over once the technical training was done.
What started as a personal passion, an attempt to “replicate the taste” of some of her favorite cookies–Danish butter cookies and Oreos–soon grew into a proper side hustle, not at all what she had in mind.
“It simply was a hobby,” Morris said. “That’s how this whole thing started. I [began by] sharing with friends and family.”
The friends and family, along with co-workers would eventually become her taste-testers for when she decided to take her baking to the next level.
Morris soon began sharing her goods at the office, prompting one of her colleagues to place an order, which came as a surprise.
When the colleague paid her, Morris didn’t have change; the colleague told her not to worry. “’God said to let this establish your business–I don’t need the change,’” she said.
Morris’ growing confidence as a baker, the positive reviews from her friends and co-workers, and now, this blessing of sorts gave her the inspiration she had been looking to move forward.
“Ever since then,” Morris said, “I haven’t stopped making cookies.”
She quickly got to work. “After [my colleague] said that there was this push to make cookies,” she said. “I made an IG page that same day [and] came up with a name. It was like an avalanche of ideas all at once…everything happened all at once.”
Calling herself a “novice” at the beginning, Morris said that, along with “mastering the art of my cookies”, she learned how to manage a small business, which was a journey in itself.
Part of that journey meant that she had to learn to be firm with asserting the value of her products for current and prospective customers.
“These are gourmet cookies because of the time and effort and the quality products used to make them,” Morris said, also referring to the equipment that she’s had to invest in.
She expressed gratitude to her family for being “a real big support” when it comes to inspiration for ideas, assisting with deliveries and simply offering moral support as the business grows.
Referring to entrepreneurship as a “challenge”, Morris has made customer satisfaction her main focus. Although she has long expanded her clientele past friends and family, the initial satisfaction from knowing that others are enjoying her products remains her core inspiration to keep creating. With every flavor experiment and new design, she keeps her clients in mind.
“I like to see when people get something of quality,” she said, “[when they’re] actually happy with something they’ve paid for.” Morris added that as part of her desire to please her clients, she’s also open to feedback.
Having mastered the business of taking and filling orders, Morris now looks to expand Craving Cookies in a retail direction, to satisfy customers who may be in more of a rush to get their hands on the goods.
Chocolate chip, double chocolate, white chocolate pecan and salted caramel are among the rich cookie flavors coming out of the Craving Cookies kitchen.
More recently, Morris has found herself thriving in the niche created by the demand for personalized and branded cookies, something that she said has “challenged [her] creativity.”
“People love personalized gifts–do you know what it is to see your company logo on something and it tastes good?” she gusted.
Craving Cookies will have a presence at PrideTT’s Pride Parade and Fair on July 24 (part of the group’s calendar of events) where rainbow cookies will be on sale.
Grateful and still somewhat surprised at how far the business has come in the two years since she began, Morris takes from her journey the lesson of taking action to ensure that one’s goals become a reality.
“I have learned not to procrastinate on [things] that [I] thought [I] couldn’t do. you can sit [for] months and years and do nothing,” she said. “As soon as that thought is initiated, try to materialize it. Don’t ever doubt yourself.”
Check out Craving Cookies on Instagram for information on orders, new products and seasonal sales.