Furlough leads to cookie cutter career

Courtesy of Cleary Cookie Co.

Laralyn Ogilvie of Lakeside was furloughed from her current job after 12 years as a service advisor for the auto industry when the first COVID-19 lockdowns began in March. As a single parent she had to strategize what was best for her family and stepped back to be there for her daughter with distance learning.

“I needed to do something not only for myself to make sure that I maintained my sanity during quarantine and the lockdown,” she said. “But also, for me to bring happiness to other people in a situation that was not ideal. A lot of kids were pulled from school and were not able to have birthday parties with their friends or be around the people they loved.”

So, Ogilvie started doing something she loved. Baking. Inspired by her great-great-great-grandmother Mary Cleary, who was considered the baker of the family, she founded Cleary Cookie Co.

“She was the one that had the boxes of cookies and breads,” she said. “She was the big inspiration for me, cooking for people and baking for people is something I have always loved doing. It is my way of showing my love for people and expressing how I care about them.”

Ogilvie said it started small, making cookies for family and friends, but received “some not so gentle” pushes to put herself out there and see what happened.

“It has really taken off and it has been fantastic,” she said. “Especially now, going back down into another lockdown situation where groups are smaller, and the holidays are coming around. It is important for me to make sure that the holidays still are something to look forward to. Even with these new changes.”

Ogilvie said the driving force in opening a business during COVID was to ensure people would have some good memories this year. She said the smile it provides to people brings it home for her. A single one-person business, Ogilvie does everything from baking, decorating and the administrative parts of the business. October through December is the “super bowl” for the cookie community due to the major holidays.

“Most people do not realize that it is 12-16 hour days putting together these sets of cookies that end up being eaten within 5-10-minutes,” she said. “My daughter tags along with me and we do distance learning in between trays of cookies. To make the deliveries and see the smiles on people’s faces makes the lack of sleep and hair pulling moments really worth it.”

She uses 3D cookie cutters made to her own specifications and said it is fun coming up with designs, creating different textures and tries to makew the cookie come to life as much as possible.

Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are over, she is looking a Christmas designs. She said she is excited about her vintage collection inspired by the classic “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” characters with the vintage elf and abominable snowman. “They are going to be my favorite and I am excited to get them out this year,” she said.

Ogilvie said she is “blessed” to say that she is taking no more orders for December as she has received enough orders for one baker to handle.

“I have had businesses reach out to me for gifts for their employees and venders, holiday parties so I am limited in what I can do the rest of this month,” she said. “But I have a lot of extras. I have my ‘oops cookies,’ which probably look perfect to most people and I do not see them as perfect. So, anyone not able to get orders in can try and snatch some last minute cookies.”