How frosted cookies changed my career
Pepper Carter recently took a leap of faith by leaving her communications job at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison to work full time at her family’s Whimsy Cookie Company franchise at the Renaissance shopping center in Ridgeland. MCL Editor Katie Eubanks spoke with Pepper about how God is working through whimsy, fun, and cookie frosting!
Katie Eubanks: How did you and your husband come to own a Whimsy Cookie Company franchise?
Pepper Carter: I’m one of those people who says, “I wonder if I could do that,” and then I get on YouTube and figure it out. I wondered if I could do decorated sugar cookies. Allan is a pharmaceutical rep. He would take some to clinics as happies. That grew into someone asking if I would donate some for a bake sale.
People started calling and asking to order them. At first, I said, “No no no no no.” But we prayed about it. We decided the funds would go to mission trips or people with needs. We did that for a couple of years.
Then a friend of mine, an associate at Broadmoor, followed Whimsy online, and it said they were looking to open a franchise here. She said, “You should do this.”
I showed it to Allan and the next thing you know, we were in conversations with them.
In November 2019, we opened the store … four months later, a pandemic hit. (laughs)
KE: How were things at the store through the pandemic?
PC: We had to be really creative, and we had to really rely on our faith. God was good and He provided, and He sustained. We had to get creative with how we staffed. Technically, we were considered an essential business since we provide food.
I wanted to provide kids and families with some sense of normalcy. Kids missed out on the Easter Bunny. We decided to do the Easter Bunny in the Jeep and go to neighborhoods. We did the same thing with Santa Claus.
We feel like this is a brand-new thing for us (in 2021). This is the year we would’ve had (without COVID). Things seem to be progressing well. … But we are super grateful for the support of our community and our friends and family.
KE: Have your sons helped with the business?
PC: Our youngest works at the store. Now he’s leaving in the fall to go to The University of Alabama. … He was our Easter Bunny. He was our Spider-Man. He has been super involved. Our oldest missed out on that because he was already out of the house.
KE: Is it just cookies?
PC: We have obviously the decorated sugar cookies. But we also have a full line of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip (sandwich cookies), 11 different flavors of gooeys (Whimsy Gooey Butter Cookies) — which is sort of what we’re known for — and it’s kind of like a cakey, brownie type consistency. We have homemade peanut butter cookies, homemade oatmeal cream pies. Everything is made here in the kitchen daily. A lot of customers think we ship it in.
KE: How many people work in the kitchen?
PC: We have a full-time baker and a fulltime decorator. I jump in and help where it’s needed. And our retail staff — everybody just kind of cross trains. We all jump in and do what is required to get it done.
KE: Do you have a favorite cookie from the store?
PC: I am partial to the strawberry gooey. Allan is partial to any of the red velvet gooeys. But when they’re right out of the oven, the oatmeal and snickerdoodle I absolutely cannot resist.
KE: What is your mission with the store?
PC: Number one, for our customers to have the most positive experience, basically the golden rule. But we also wanted to use that with our staff. We aren’t necessarily just employees, but a team.
We employ a lot of high-school students, and we use this as a training ground. Everybody’s going to make mistakes. We know this is not their career. But it sets the groundwork for them.
Our goal is that if someone comes in our store, it’s the best part of their day. It’s light, it’s whimsical, it’s fun, it’s cookies. This is not brain surgery. … We just want it to be an experience where you just feel good when you leave — and that’s through our customer service and our product.