Barb Shober has an “annoying Swiss perfectionism” about her.
She said it and proved it Tuesday as she decorated some of the eight dozen wedding cookies on her plate for the week.
With a pastry bag without a tip and a steady hand, she worked methodically, bringing a dozen flower-shaped cookies to life using delicate dots and lines of frosting mixed by hand to match her customer’s color palate.
Shober’s plate is The Bakerin, a cottage bakery he runs from his home east of Gillette.
“I mistranslated the German word for baker and it sounded English,” she joked about her business name: “Die Bäckerin.”
Shober started the business by accident in 2019 when one of her six children started planning a wedding. She volunteered for the craft of hand decoration and had no plans to follow through on her daughter’s promise.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said.
Shober has no formal art or design background. In fact, she earned her nursing degree in Switzerland and has spent her entire working life in the medical field, although she has always loved the creative process.
“I’ve always been a silly creative person,” she said.
Shober runs his side hustle on days off from Campbell County Memorial Hospital. In just a few years, her goofy creativity has taken her from “junk shopping” from her circle of friends and family to steady weekly orders.
“People want my stuff,” she said.
Shober does business in a community he calls “cookiers” in the Gillette area and beyond. She was soon learning with “lots of YouTube” and help from a friend. He continues to learn through others through the Instagram and Facebook communities. Social media platforms are also a place to connect with new customers.
“The cookie thing has really caught on in the last couple of years,” she said.
Shober thinks the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to more bakers like her, but he doesn’t mind sharing the field.
“I believe in community over competition,” she said.
Some, but not all, of these custom Gillette cookie makers include Out West Cookies, Rhonda’s Rustic Cookies, Kristine’s Kitchen and the brick-and-mortar store Carft Corner and Sweets on Third Street, where owner Jamie Williams also offers cookie decorating classes for kids.
Advances in technology may also be the reason for the rise of cottage cookie stores. There are small projectors on the market that help with lettering and other frosting designs.
Shober used her Tuesday to write perfectly identical letters on a pair of cookies. With a small projector attached to the stand and connected to her phone via Bluetooth, she shined the name onto the iced cookies and carefully traced the letters.
Some pastry chefs are also using 3D printers to make their own cookie cutters. Shober said she owns about 200 cutters, but has yet to use her own 3D printer. She used different flower shapes for her recent order.
He prefers to do most of his work freehand. Shober’s favorite customers are those who let her do whatever she wants.
“Creative freedom,” she said. “That’s what we call it in the cookie world.
The creative freedom has earned The Bakerin nearly 16,000 Instagram followers and a solid two orders a week, which Shober says he fills “comfortably” on days off from the hospital.
A dozen of Shober’s artworks cost $50 to $60, depending on the design, a price she’s on the fence about, with the cost of some of her ingredients up 50%.