“Life is short, make it sweet.” Old Dominion first sang that tune in 2018. If there’s one lesson the unpredictability of 2020 taught Carlie Chiriboga, it was just that.
Chiriboga first got into baking after coming across a YouTube video for red velvet cupcakes on her iPod touch when she was 11. By 12, she had the idea to turn her hobby into a home bakery business, but it wasn’t until around this past September that she began to make those dreams a reality.
“The biggest challenge was literally just deciding to do it,” Chiriboga said.
A native of Lafayette, Chiriboga transferred to LSU from South Louisiana Community College and the junior is majoring in communication disorders, with the end goal of becoming a speech therapist.
In her major, Chiriboga learns the science behind language, so to speak, breaking down and classifying various speech sounds and studying how words and syllables can be combined in infinite combinations.
It was a similar fascination that first drew her to baking. As a young girl, Chiriboga was intrigued by the science behind it. She was captivated by the idea that basic, simple ingredients, such as flour and sugar, could be combined to make so many different goods, whether bread, cupcakes or cookies.
The latter of which is Chiriboga’s forte.
Any flavor, any type, “I’m all about cookies,” Chiriboga said.
When she first started Carlie’s Cookie Jar, Chiriboga said there was a big difference between baking a dozen cookies and baking bakery quantities. She had to get larger pans as she got larger orders, sometimes upward of 300 cookies.
“You just go in the kitchen and just start, you know,” Chiriboga said. “Start baking them. Start.”
The baking is the hard part. After the cookies come out of the oven, the real fun begins.
Chiriboga’s favorite part of the process is decorating. Even if it’s just a regular chocolate chip cookie, she spends time tweaking the treat with tweezers and reshaping the dough with spoons, until she has the perfect cookie. She recently started making Royal Icing customized sugar cookies.
She gathers inspiration from all over and has baked cookie designs like Lucky Charms marshmallows and her newest favorite, leopard print hearts.
“I’ve never taken a business class in my life,” Chiriboga said. “I don’t really know that much about marketing or social media. But I mean it’s just, I don’t know, I think it’s just so much fun to learn as you go, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Holidays are her biggest sellers, but now that she has gotten into the swing of her business, Chiriboga also takes orders on her Instagram or Facebook pages for showers or other events. She hosts giveaways on her Instagram page @carliescookiejar around once a month.
“If you make quality things and you put pride behind it, it will do well because people can see that,” Chiriboga said.
Although taking that first step to start her business was a scary thought, Chiriboga spent time preparing and researching and took the chance.
“You literally have nothing to lose because if it flops, no one would even know about it because it flopped,” Chiriboga said.
Gone are the days of thinking, “No, I could never,” and “That’s just for other people. That’s not for me.” Gone are those last doubts, “Well, what if it fails?”
“Life is so short, especially since the whole pandemic happened,” Chiriboga said. “Anything can happen. Like you might as well just do what you want to do and have fun with it because it’s like, you know, you never know what’s going to happen.”