Live Chat with Kristin Grunder, CookieCon 2019 Instructor
Next up in our CookieCon 2019 Speakers Series is CookieCon 2019 presenter Kristin Grunder of Grunderfully Delicious At CookieCon, Kristin will be talking about how to simplify cookie designs to get maximum appeal with a minimum of effort. What a wonderfully practical topic, right? It's so wonderful that I'm hoping we can continue that dialogue in this chat. And, of course, I'm also dying to hear about her latest business venture - the opening of her very own cookie studio for classes and other events. It looks incredible! (Sneak peek here.)
Kristin's bio (below), website, and Instagram page are sure to give you even more fodder for discussion, so please check them out before the chat. Please also review the following chat guidelines. We look forward to "seeing" you on March 30!
(1) Feel free to enter advance questions now by following the instructions at the top of this chat page. (As always, it's super helpful for questions to be logged early, so our guests are able to prepare answers beforehand and to field more questions during live chat time.)
(2) Please note that any advance questions will reveal one at a time, in the order received, only after the chat goes live. Do not expect questions or answers to appear immediately.
(3) Last but not least, as with all of these chats, you have a special opportunity to see inside the minds of some extremely talented decorators, so I encourage you to do your homework before jumping on the chat. Again, please review Kristin's bio and other information.
Kristin Grunder started her cookie adventure six years ago on her 30th birthday. At that time, she was a homemaker looking for a unique creative outlet, and so she began documenting her cookie decorating progress via an online blog. Her journey into the craft soon attracted thousands of followers interested in the edible art of cookie decorating, and that is how her business, Grunderfully Delicious, was born! The company’s mission is “to inspire a generation of customers to find a creative outlet they can share with friends by offering the best cookie decorating products, guides, and tutorials on one convenient easy-to-use site.” Grunderfully Delicious' vision is simple: "Creating custom cookies carefully crafted and enjoyed by all!” In addition to selling cookies, classes, and products, Kristin recently opened up her very own cookie decorating studio in Anaheim, California, USA.
Hi, Kristin! I am absolutely thrilled to have you here with us today! CookieCon was SO busy that I regrettably had little time to talk to you there, so I plan to do most of my catching up with you today!
First, questions are answered in the order received, but they will not post to the public/viewable area of the chat until Kristin 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.
Okay, we're ready to roll! I'm going to start by posting some of Kristin's cookie photos to familiarize you with her work, if you don't know it well already! (Please also check out her bio under the blue "i" icon at the top of this chat room.)
But, first, I want to hear about Kristin's class at CookieCon, since I missed it . . . Kristin, I know your presentation was about simplifying cookie designs, but could you share some of the key reasons for simplifying, and some of the key ways you do that? TIA!
JULIA USHER: When Karen contacted me to speak at CookieCon, I could not believe it! It was such a great experience. She wanted me to gear my message more toward beginner decorators and I thought no more perfect way than to talk about simplifying cookies. I had to learn to keep my sets simple when I decided to go the route of pop-up shops and now I use the same method for my beginner class sets. Doing custom orders was not working for me and my family. I still wanted to make cookies, but I needed something easier than going back and forth with customers and creating elaborate custom sets. Doing custom sets was too hard with my busy schedule. By focusing on themed pop-ups, I was able to figure out a way to simplify my designs, but still make them adorable so that the customers would love them.
JULIA USHER: Here's a picture of the studio section. I can fit 24 students in each class. Everyone can see what I'm working on from the TV above me. I used to teach larger classes, but 24 is a good size for me to where I feel like I can still talk to each and every person there.
JULIA USHER: We are currently working on finishing up the kitchen area. Our health plans were finally approved (we submitted them back in November), so we just ordered most of our equipment this week. Getting approval from the city has been the most challenging part of the process. As soon as we get our final approval (hopefully in about a month), I will do all of my baking here. I plan on serving flatbread pizzas and desserts during class. I also want to try to do pop-up sales once a week. I'm planning on having a different theme each month for the cookies I will be selling.
Oooh, yes, I recall (not with fondness) the many bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the city when I opened my shop many moons ago. But it pays to be patient with the bureaucrats and get on their good side!
JULIA USHER: Another exciting thing we will be adding in the shop in the next few months are guest teachers! I already have an amazing list of teachers willing and ready to travel here to teach. Maybe that's something you would be interested in? Hehe!
Kristin, I think your new place looks beautiful, the way the rustic and modern come together is so easy on the eyes, I like the set up. I took your class and listened intently to your story and advice, and jokes about your husband.
What was your process when you first decided to decorate cookies? How often did you practice? Were there any times when you would just work on consistency and not bake cookies, or did you do the whole thing from rolling and baking to decorating every time? Thank you so much!
DEVINLY SWEETS: When I first started cookies, I dove right in. I would read blogs and watch YouTube videos for hours! I wanted to get a lot of practice when I first started my hobby, so I announced that I was selling baseball cookies for $1 and the money would go to a local charity. I just wanted to practice my consistency. I ended up making over 300 cookies that week. Now, if I needed to practice, I would probably just use a paper towel or practice worksheets. So yes, I practiced a ton in the beginning on actual cookies. It was a lot of baking and eating!
First, I want to thank Kristin for introducing me to the wonderful world of cookie decorating. My question is: I would like to purchase a projector so I can begin to write on my cookies, but I feel overwhelmed after reading comments from so many that I don’t know what to buy. Any suggestions? Thank you, Kandee Beas
I did it a few times before my shop, but mostly for holidays. I would like this to be a weekly event at my shop. So in the case, people won't be able to pre-order. They would need to come in to see what I have. Hopefully people will come, lol
I gave my first few demo classes at CookieCon and would love to teach some more. What advice would you give me to start up my own classes in Central Florida and elsewhere around the US? Something you wish you knew then that you know now, for example?
The biggest thing that helps me mentally is to have my students fill their own bags (well, at least most of them). When I first started teaching, I learned really quickly that I could not handle filling so many bags myself. I actually think the students really enjoy the experience of doing most everything themselves
I also like to write down my colors so I can see if I'm using too many during class. I normally like to keep to 1 outline which they fill with a tip, 3 floods and then my assistant and I fill any detail bags that the students share
NANCY D- thank you so much for asking! We never found out who robbed the shop. The way the cookie community came together to get me back on my feet immediately was amazing! I will never ever forget it!
JULIA We recently got robbed. What's really disappointing is that we weren't even finished getting the shop ready. They took all of our electronics, cash, our giant juke box. I'm so glad they didn't take any supplies though and thankful they didn't trash the place. The cookie community saw what happened and raised money for me to replace things right away. It was incredible
So I am fairly new to cookie decorating and I just bought the Cake Boss airbrush. I tried using it for the first time yesterday and my cookies didn't turn out how I expected. Do you have any tips on how to use the airbrush. I attached a picture, but please pay no attention to the "flowers" because my consistency was WAY off on my icing for those (again, I'm just starting out so I have a lot to learn).
So i airbrushed the gold on the keys and the little signs. And in the pic its hard to tell, but it just got the weirdest texture and the cookies weren't smooth anymore. It was my first time using it and I used Lucks gold airbrush color.
Thank you! This is only about my 7th time making cookies. Ive been watching as many videos on how to do cookies as i can. So do i just start with a thin layer, let it dry, and keep repeating until it gets to the desired airbrish color i want?
NANCY When I first started teaching classes, I advertised on local FB community groups. Now, I have people sign up to get my newsletter, and most of the classes fill up with my subscribers. Whatever doesn't, I post on my IG and FB page and I get the sales from there. Starting in community pages is great, but be ready for people to tell you that you charge too much.
NANCY I do also want to mention that my classes did not fill up right away. I started teaching over 4 years ago and used to have to beg friends to go to my class so that it looked full. My classes didn't start filling up until about 2 years in. I think now that there are more classes around and people know what it is, you shouldn't have as hard of a time filling them like I used to.
I also have a question of how to find cookie classes in my area (Utah)? I would love to have in-person classes to help teach me new things rather than watching Youtube videos . . . or even online classes I can take that are live?
SAMANTHA I know Blyss Cookies teaches in Utah. They are a sister team and are amazing! I was lucky enough to take their class last year at Cookie Con. I would recommend reaching out to them as I'm sure they can either teach you, or know people in your area
NANCY I use corn syrup in my icing because I have found that it has completely taken care of my butter bleed. I do normally pull some icing without the syrup aside and use that icing for my details because I'm so worried they will be too soft when packaging. Does that make sense?
I shook the bottle really well before, so I'll try stirring next time. Thank you! And you guys made me feel a little better about giving these cookies to my new neighbors next door because I was a little embarrassed to do so, lol.
Posting Kristen's question again here, since it's rather far up: I am interested in starting classes. I would like your opinion on whether adult classes or children’s classes are easier? Like birthday parties or summer camp type classes for kids...
KRISTEN I didn't teach my first kid's class until last month and I have to say that I enjoyed it sooo much! I really do love my adult classes, but adults are so much harder on themselves. Every single kid were thrilled about their cookies and the look on their parents faces were priceless! I guess that doesn't answer what's easier though. I'm still learning how to prep for kid's classes. They get less cookies so that's already less time, and their class is only an hour. They do not fill their bags though, so that takes a while, but I simplify their cookies even more than the adult classes so I do think it's easier. Sorry for the ramble! lol
Also, do you have any resources to get before teaching the first class . . . I know you offer practice sheets (that are awesome, btw!) but I'm thinking along the lines of class size, how to find locations if my home isn’t large enough, class flow (getting started and keeping students moving through designs), and how to wrap things up?
KRISTEN I haven't been able to come up with more resources yet because of time, but I do know that Flour Box Bakery has a really great book on teaching classes. I think that would be a great place to start!
I also taught kids for the first time about a month ago, and, while they leave a much bigger mess to clean up, I did find them easier to please and less hard on themselves to. I also did an ultra-simple cookie with them.
KRISTEN I would start by approaching any local paint and sip's. That's where I always taught my classes before getting my own space. They had a nice set up where all the chairs are facing the stage. For anyone teaching classes, I would also recommend having a projector so everyone can see you working on the cookies at the same time. It saves so much time rather than going to each table and showing them what you're doing
I will add that there are different models for teaching. I operate under a different financial one than some other instructors, so you need to also strike up methods and terms that work best for you and your own personal style/needs.
I love tipless bags, but I'm always worried that the portion that is cut off will end up in my icing since it's very static. What suggestions do you give your classes when they are cutting off the tips? Do you have a secret way of collecting the cut-offs?
Heba, I don't have time now to find it on my computer while moderating the chat, but it was a layered airbrush style using a multi-layer custom set that I designed for the party. So it wasn't super easy, but they did amazingly well with it. we also had a ton of pre-made embellishments that they could stick all over them, so that helped cover any messy airbrushing!
NANCY D I actually have never thought about that. We have paper on the table under them so they cut the tip off and set it on the table. I show them how to cut the tip off by holding the very end so when they cut it off, the cut off piece is in their hand so they don't have to worry about it floating off anywhere
For me, it's all about the flavoring. I LOVE Apex brand vanilla bean paste with the specks of vanilla beans. I changed my flavoring after the CookieCon vanilla sniffing event. And oh, APEX is made in Maryland, which is a bonus, cause that's where I live!
NANCY For my classes, I call them "cookies and sip". The people that come to my classes are not looking to do this as a business, they just want to have a fun night out. Because of this, I keep it to 3 designs and they get 6 cookies. They have 2 tries for each design which they seem to enjoy. My classes are 2 hours. If I were to do an intermediate class, which I have a few times, I do 6 different designs and the classes can be anywhere from 4-6 hours...
208BAKES I agree! It's better to practice on friends and family before jumping in right away! I had a group of friends I did my first class with, then, I invited all of my special cookie customers to my 2nd class. I felt ready after that
Agree wholeheartedly, 208Bakes. Lots of people seem to want to get into teaching these days - I'm not quite sure why?? Perhaps it's a perception that it's super glamorous or fun to travel to new locations, but it is hard work and very different than producing cookies for sale. It takes a distinct set of skills and lots of practice, IMO.
KRISTEN I charge $45 per person for the 2 hour, simple class. If I were teaching intermediate or even a beginning class where people want to learn for their business, I would charge triple that at least
I think Kristen is referring to the comment about using a projector to show what she is doing for teaching a class and not projecting on cookies. Is that the same projector you'll want to use for both?
SAMANTHA Here's what I used when I used to use a projector https://www.amazon.com/Epson-C...756&s=gateway&sr=8-4 and I would also have a computer camera that was connected to it. Now, I use a video camera that is connected to the tv that's above me. A projector is great though if you're traveling
Again, this gets back to my point of pricing and setting class terms that work for you. What one charges is a unique function of how much advance prep they do and other overhead costs they might have to cover. I understand the desire to know ballpark, benchmark pricing from others, but it's always best, IMO, to work up your own pricing based on your own labor and cost fundamentals.
NANCY I don't normally use bottles, but I did for my last kid's classes, and IMO it was not worth it for how long it took me to clean them. It probably took about 3 hours for me to clean all of them where when I use bags and each person gets 1 tip, I just throw the tips in the dishwasher and throw out the bags. I soaked my bottles in soap hot water and then sprayed the icing out with my sink sprayer. Then I had to continue to soak to make sure I got everything. Maybe someone has a better way? I do love the bottles though!!
HEBA when I approached the owners with my idea of renting the space, they had never had anyone ask before. I just threw out a number of $125 and they accepted. Another place I approached which was a boutique, wanted 40% of my sales which was a big no no for me!
Thanks again, Kristin, and thanks to all for joining and making this such a lively chat. Our next chat is tentatively scheduled for April 13 but I am still firming up those details. Stay tuned and have a great rest of your weekend!
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