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Live Chat with Katy Metoyer, CookieCon 2018 Instructor

Katy's chat has officially begun! Hold onto your pastry bags, everyone!
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Welcome, Katy! It is so great to finally "meet" you!
Welcome to everyone joining us today! Great to have you here too! Please start teeing up your questions for Katy, if you haven't already!
Hi, Kat, Kim, Manu and Sugar Sugar! Great to have you here!
Before we dive into Q&A, just a few housekeeping notes for newbies to our chats: questions are answered in the order received, but they will not post to the public/viewable area of the chat until Katy reads and answers them. We'll work through questions that were logged in advance first; then start working on questions asked live during the chat. That said, please be patient and do not re-post the same question. It may take some time to answer your question, depending on where it sits in the queue. But I will personally make sure every question gets answered before we're through.
Also, please ask just one question at a time (per post); it's easier for our guests to keep up and others to read the chat transcript if they're not hit with too many questions at once. Thanks!
So to break the ice, and to familiarize you with Katy's work (if you're not already an ardent fan!), I'm going to post a few of her cookie pics. They may also fuel some questions about cookie technique!
I just love the soft colors on these star fish!
More lovelies in the seaside theme!
Gorgeous in a bright palette too!
IMG_1968 (1)
Hi, Andrea!
And, the last photo (for now, anyway) - some non-seaside stunners! (Now, say that three times fast! )
Good Morning Julia! And Katy!
Good Morning ANDREA!!
I'm going to kick off with a question or two too, while you guys draft yours!
Hello everyone!
Hello MANU
Hello, Manu from Thailand. Once from Italy!
For a little bit of context for everyone, roughly how many cookies do you make and sell per week, on average? And do you fulfill all of these orders yourself, or do you have some employees?
JULIA - Although I'd really like to think I can make them all on my own, I have added some help to my studio. I have someone who bakes on Mondays (and Wednesdays if we are extra busy). She bakes all of my blanks for the week and if she's ahead, she starts filling the freezer with blanks. I also have Christie who helps me with everything from piping, flooding, creating embellishments, cleaning, and keeping me sane. Workload varies from week to week, but I have been steady making about 400 cookies per week. That includes filling my shop case and all custom orders. My biggest order for a week was 2,000!
Also, can you tell us what or who prompted you to start your cookie business in 2017, and why you opted for a brick-and-mortar shop, as opposed to working from home or in someone else's venue (sharing space)?
2,000 makes me exhausted just thinking about them!
JULIA - I'd been doing cookies out of my home for 4 years prior to having my shop, thanks to the CA Cottage Food Act that was passed back then. I used to ride my bike past that space almost every day literally WILLING it to myself. The space was a very outdated Chinese restaurant named Chef Wangs. One day I was riding my bike past the space, and it said that they were going out of business after 30 years! OMG - it was mine for the taking but how would I go about getting it? I waited on the street corner for the landlord to finish showing it to a prospect. Then I went right up to him and just went for it!! What did I have to lose? Being a Hermosa Beach local for over 40 years, I told him when I was a child, there were little shops on this street (Pier Avenue) where the kids could come in and feel safe and grab a treat. I wanted the same for the new generation of kids. With the space being in a prime real estate downtown location, I was really worried about the lease. The landlord said, “I love your idea. Why don't you write to the owner? She is 90 years old and really likes to support locals and their endeavors.” It ended up that she was our neighbor for 40 years on the same street as my childhood home. We ended up leasing the space for 10 years at a more than manageable monthly lease. I was so excited. I have always been one to work on my own. We renovated the shop and now it's my very own shop.
What luck! I was searching for a place on and off for at least a year before I found mine. Had to lease from various caterers for a while, which was challenging to say the least.
LOVE this beginning to your shop, Katy!
Me too!
I have one more advance question from me, so please start teeing yours up, everyone!
That’s such a great story!!
My main fear was the overhead but I have been rolling now for close to 2 years
What was the biggest challenge you encountered in opening your shop, and how did you overcome it?
JULIA - There are a few obstacles that have been really challenging to overcome. A. I tend to have a specific style. It's been really difficult to have my assistant replicate my style for the simple fact that almost everything I do is freestyle. So, we've come up with some simple standbys (about 7) that make the cookies look Sugar Dayne-esque and I don't have to worry about the cookies NOT looking like my work. This easy fix seems to really work with us, and it's going smoothly. B. When I started this venture, I had a vision of having an exposed space so everyone could see what I was decorating and what goes on in the shop. I also had a vision of having non-traditional bakery hours to help balance with my family life and overall sanity. So the obstacle has been that I am basically on a trade show floor at ALL times. This is MY brand and MY business, and I feel the need to speak with everyone who stops by to explain to them why I am not open everyday and how my business model works. Staying exclusive and elusive really is an art. It starts with a smile and conversation, and I've become really good at creating relationships within the community and beyond. It's very tiring but it's what I signed up for when I made my shop into a welcoming fishbowl.
You need a clone.
Heck, so do I.
I have to admit that when I first started following you, your style was so funky to me. When I personally fell into finding my own style, I truly began to appreciate your style. AND, after getting to know you, I see that it is SO you! Its amazing! Do you ever pre-plan anything or just feel it as you work?
Your work is amazing !
Yes I do but I've found one that comes close. She went to Cookie Con and had a blast!
We've moved onto live questions now, in case that wasn't obvious!
Andrea's is the first!
ANDREA. Awe. It's funny because I NEVER plan a set, color way or anything. I just bake blanks, look at them for about 30 seconds and then just go for it.
How do you handle customer requests then? I know many customers can come in with some very preconceived notions of what they want.
ANDREA Sorry I pushed enter. I really don't know where I came up with my 'style' but found it when I was mourning the passing of my Dad.
JULIA. Well, I am pretty much adamant that the customer can give me direction, theme, colors but that I will put my own twist on them. I stay away from character cookies but I'll make like 'Mickey-esque' cookies, my way. For the most part the customer is extremely happy with them.
I notice that you use a lot of accent pieces! Do you use fondant in molds? Do you cut your own wafer papers?
ANDREA I love embellishments. I use many molds and I love making beach pieces (and mini skulls). I add faint amounts of color to make them look realistic. I also love using wafer paper ANYTHING!! They add such a unique touch.
Will you be teaching an add-on class in Reno ? Loved the "Oh hey, Indy"!
BTW, what was the "Oh hey, Indy" - for those of us not lucky enough to be at CookieCon?
I love the “food marker” accents.
KIM Yes! Those were on a whim and I loved that set too. YES! I am teaching add on classes this time around in Reno. I am finalizing my sets today. Do you want a sneak peek of my class names?
Oh hey Indy
I do!
Yes, please!
Absolutely as I’m anxiously awaiting registration for add on classes !
Yes please!
Thanks for the picture, Kim! I'm assuming Katy made these as a welcome gift for someone at CookieCon?
While Katy is posting class names, here's the next question . . .
I made these because I love making cookies and I used to work in a hotel so I thought it'd be a nice touch at the front desk
Here's the next question from Andrea . . .
You host a lot of kids classes! And, I have to seem so in your element in photos. Do you do adult classes? Or stick to kiddos?
KIM My class names will be 'Frickin' Mixed Media' (a funky cactus party) AND The Art of Sugar Dayne-ing (Airbrushed Ocean Friends)
KIM I love using those edible markers. My favorites are Sugar Flair from England
I can’t wait. I hope I can get a ticket for one of your classes !
ANDREA Actually I love doing the kids classes. They are so rewarding. I was actually just practicing so I can move into adult and more professional classes. I am also going to take my classes on the road in 2019.
At your shop, do you only sell cookies and do custom cookie orders? Or do you offer classes and other baked goods as well?
KIM I hope you do too. I am doing 4 classes total so I am sure you'll get one.
KATS I actually sell cookies for the community on the weekends but I have constant custom orders. My shop is only 'open' for business Friday and Saturday and all the other days and times keeps me flexible for classes and private lessons. I love this business model
Hi, everyone, I'm from mexico and I just started to make cookies. Do you have any advice of any kind of class online?
PILONCILLO - There are lots of online cookie decorating courses on
PILONCILLO CON CANELA When I fist started I totally read every post of Sweet Sugarbelle's blog. Oooh, JULIA now I want to go to craftsy!! I always love learning from other cookie makers.
PILONCILLO - Also, many cookiers do online tutorials and post them to YouTube, myself included. Mine are quite long and almost like full-length classes. Other good ones by Montreal Confections, SweetAmbs, Haniela's, Flour Box Bakery, etc.
What did you do prior to being a cookie artist ? You are so creative !
...also Julia’s You Tube videos
Thanks, Manu! I already plugged myself!
KIM I was an at home mom and before that I was a Director of National Sales for Hyatt Hotels. I don't know where this 'talent' came from and I wish I would have started a long time ago. Everything happens in due time, right?
I should also mention that we list online classes under the "Resources" section of this site, which you can find in the main navigation line. Here's the direct link: https://cookieconnection.julia.../pages/onlineclasses
Thank u ! =)
Will either of your Reno classes incorporate the "Oh hey, Indy" technique, because they are absolutely stunning?!
KIM absolutely. I call that mixed media. I will take all of my techniques like that for both sets and we will do it ALL
PILONCILLO AND ALL - I should also point our Sugar Dot's online classes focused on the business of cookie making - how to find a location, much dough to make, how to price, how to package and ship, etc. Her classes are also listed under our "Resources" area.
Where ya headed in 2019?
our = out in my previous post
Sugar Dot will soon be joining the site (I hope) as a regular business contributor. Stay tuned for her first post in a week or so. It will be interactive.
Now I’m even more excited for Reno, if that’s even possible !
YES, my friend Yes!
Woohooo KC!! That’s where I’m at!!
When you worked in the hotels were you doing cookies or is that something you found after your hotel days?
I'll meet you in KC, friend!
ANDREA and I will also have cookiers coming to Hermosa Beach to do 'mash ups' with me. Like Inspired to Taste, LC Sweets, I AM Caked, and I have many others in the works.
KATS Totally after my hotel days and at home mom days. I just kind of fell into it one day. I was bored and needed a hobby when my youngest started all day school. I was in hotel sales. I am not a baker or an artist but when it comes to royal icing and glaze - it's my medium.
ANDREA I can't wait.
So, why take your classes on the road, as opposed to doing them at your shop? Do you find the economics of travel classes to be better than at-home classes, or is there another reason?
ANDREA I also have many things coming in 2019 that will change the course of my tiny shop (so leading...) but stay tuned.
You can just text me with those details. LOL!
JULIA I want to do a mix of both. I feel that coming to Los Angeles for a class may not be in everyone's budget. I have had so many requests to take my show on the road. But if I go to them, they'd have an easier time attending a class.
I love all the embellishments (a real contrast to my conservative style), but I'd be afraid they would take a long time and be expensive, thus jacking the cookie price up. How do you manage that with pricing?
SUZANNE Actually they don't take long. I have a HOARD of them and use them when I feel. Like when I'm netflix and chill - I just go for it. It's also very therapeutic for me.
So back to classes for a bit . . .
SUZANNE with the pricing, I have straight forward pricing. My custom dozens begin at $60 but go up from there depending on flair. It's a fine line though. I don't want to price myself out of bounds.
JULIA Okay back to classes...
You mentioned doing kids classes, and needing to gear up or prep for more adult classes. What will this gearing up entail for you?
Sugar! Making cookies - it’s also therapeutic for me =)
JULIA - in answer to your question, I just want to be prepared and focused to give adults and fellow cookiers then best I can give. I have attended many classes from the big name cookiers and watch what works for them. I don't want to necessarily 'copy' their class format but I do want to make my classes and advanced classes worth it.
When you are in the shop on non-retail days, is that when people come in and observe you working?
Hey, all, we have about 15 more minutes in the chat, so please get in any questions now. I think we can probably answer 4 or so more in that time. We have one in the queue from Kim already.
SUZANNE. Yes and it's kind of a curse. I am a total chatterbox and feel it's important to engage with every person who comes in. Through the week I just work on my custom orders and take meetings, etc. It's nice to be in here alone sometimes.
Approximately what size cookie would you say is $60 per dozen?
KIM like 3.5 to 4 inches.
My two cents - pricing is driven (or should be driven) more by complexity of design than size, as it's labor hours that really drive cost in this biz. Materials to a much lesser extent.
I know geography will determine some pricing but what do you charge for kids in classes ?
JULIA yes when I do sets I do like 6-8 super decorated ones then add cuter less detailed fillers. That works well for me.
KIM The kids classes and private parties for for $75 per person. I make way more money doing these events than trying to sell cookie after cookie.
Julia and Katy- I live just outside NYC, but most cookie classes/events seem to happen in the south or midwest/west. Is there less interest here or is it too expensive to offer things around here?
SUZANNE I mean I went to NYC for some classes and I think it depends on what the attendee wants to spend. There will always be someone interested in taking a class no matter what the cost. I once took a Korean Buttercream class in Hell's Kitchen for $1500 I flew there and everything and the class was full. You'll be surprised.
SUZANNE - I teach using a different model than some other cookiers seem to. I only travel to teach when invited by a host willing to pay my travel and teaching fees and to organize the course with my direction. The host bears all the risk, but also all the upside as I charge a fixed, flat teaching fee, and the host collects all of the course revenue. I actually see relatively little demand for me here in the midwest and more from overseas and other states - so that’s why I travel where I travel. I can’t speak to the cost of running classes in different parts of the country, because I don’t bear those costs. My costs are pretty much the same wherever I teach.
JULIA That's a great business model.
I'm not so sure. I could probably make more money taking a cut of the revenue, but I have no interest in prepping all of the cookies for my courses, and no ability to travel with all of them.
A typical course for me is two days with sometimes 15-20 or more cookies (per person) going into a couple of 3-D projects. It's more than I can reasonably carry on a plane.
What do the children get to do for the $75? Are the parties also instructional? What's your class size limit for kids?
Katy- I hope you got your money's worth from the $1500 buttercream class!!
But my model works for me. I limit my long-distance classes to a certain number each year, which allows me time to continue my video work and to support my stencil line (though time is usually scarce no matter what . . .)
SUZANNE I usually do 6-7 cookies per kid although they end up taking more and everyone gets one of 'mine' The parties are instructional but more laid back. We learn little things like ri consistency, coloring icing, etc but they more just want to decorate with their friends. I also do lots of mom's nights as well. My shop is intimate so I usually like to keep it at 8 max
Any last questions? We have 4 minutes left!
Katy, your story is amazing and inspiring. It is just great that you have found your way into cookie decorating and do what you like in the place you like and grew up, teaching to kids. I read about how you have turned your grief into art, although you claim to be “no artist”. I have always admired your work. After reading your story, I know why your cookies are mostly ocean and whales inspired. And now I understand why they are so special.
I'd like to take a moment to thank Katy for being here with us today on a busy work day! I so enjoyed it, and hope we have the opportunity to do an in-depth Cookier Close-up (written) interview with her too!
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this, it was great !
MANU awe. thank you. this cookie journey is more of a therapy for me and i have met some amazing friends along the way.
JULIA of course, I'd love that. MANU and KIM whats your IG's i'd love to add you as my cookie friends.
Thanks to all who attended and kept the conversation lively with great questions! I appreciate your participation!
Katy- you've inspired me to take more chances and experiment with my cookie designs!
Thank you Katy! Hope to meet you in Reno!
Si greatful ! From mexico !
KAT of course you will and SUZANNE I LOVE TO HEAR THAT
This chat has ended.
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