Crazy time to start a business? Not according to local baker

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Valentine’s Day treats by Jackie’s Crazy Cookies

By Katelyn Davis, Staff Writer

McHenry County has a new business in town and this one is sweet. Home baker, Jackie Basista has created her own business called Jackie’s Crazy Cookies where she is not only satisfying people with a sweet tooth across counties, but also impressing the people with her astounding art skills displayed on sugar cookies. She has made cookies for big companies such as Sullivan Roofing, Jewel Osco, Home Depot, and Star 105.5 in just her first year of creating her business.

Basista began to scratch the surface of sugar cookies back in November 2019 when she gained interest by watching videos on Youtube during her free time. “I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and found them so relaxing. I made some cookies to bring to my family. Everyone LOVED them. I continued toying with the recipe and figured out what I liked and didn’t like. By February 2020, I had perfected everything to the point of opening my own in-home bakery.”

Unfortunately, around the same time the global pandemic COVID-19 hit. The task at hand of not only being a new business owner, but also having to follow the guidelines and challenges that quickly came about as COVID-19 spread.  Oftentimes, supplies that Basista needed were limited or missing, due to the panic of the community. “Butter has been ridiculous to find. The price increased tremendously and has become harder and harder to find. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had to stock up on flour because everywhere was sold out. If I found flour, I would buy 50-100 lbs at a time,” said Basista. The pandemic really brought a new challenge for Basista to face, but she persevered in order to make sure that her customers’ orders were getting fulfilled, she sometimes even drove over an hour away to get her baking needs.

Although the pandemic has brought a struggle, Basista saw positives in launching during a pandemic. “I think I would have gone insane if I didn’t have something to keep me busy. I taught my two kids (e-learning) a good portion of the pandemic. Cookies were my thing, they kept me sane. I also think a lot of people were more willing to try my cookies because they knew they were supporting a small business through a rough economic time.”

She wasn’t dishonest when she explained that people were willing to support local during these times. Basista gained a following on social media rapidly. Jackie’s Crazy Cookies gained 2,500 followers in less than a year on Facebook alone, racking up even more supporters on her Instagram page. “I still cannot believe the love and support that I am getting. I currently have 2500 followers on Facebook and it grows more by the day. It is so crazy to think that I am exactly one year in and have such a following,” said Basista. For a new local business, the spread of supporters is now even coming from far out of the county, people even asking about an option for delivery.

Jackie’s Crazy Cookies is often featured on radio station Star 105.5 by Joe Cicero and Tina Bree, who are huge fans of Basista and order from her frequently. They also often emphasize that she is a “one-woman show,” having to do all this work on her own.

“I actually calculated how many cookies I made in 2020 and it was 844 dozen — which is roughly 10,130 custom cookies. That isn’t counting the samples and what not that just family ate,” Basista said.

Basista works so hard that sleep isn’t in her vocabulary anymore. She hopes to hire staff in the future to help her keep up with tedious but time-consuming matters.

“As a one woman show, it gets really stressful,” Basista said,  “Everything I do is extremely hands-on. Answering the mass amounts of Facebook and Instagram messages gets pretty difficult sometimes. I do love that I can schedule days off for myself and my family. Or, if I want to be lazy and sleep in, I can.”

The dedication that Basista puts into her work oftentimes becomes stressful, but she is unstoppable when it comes to getting her cookies done.

With Jackie’s Crazy Cookies growing so rapidly, the county offered a spot for a bakery for Basista to open. With COVID cases rising, she decided that for now she would continue working from home. This way it would keep customers, and herself, safe. Even though the time is uncertain, Basista still has goals for her company.

“I hope that I can eventually have a storefront. I was offered a storefront in September. At that point, it was scary,” Basista said. “The Covid numbers were spiking again and I was nervous that it would directly affect a new business, the risks outweigh the benefits. All in all, a goal for me is to have my kids look up to me and say ‘Wow, my mom worked so hard for us.’ I want them to see that you can always follow your dreams and create something positive especially when the world is so unknown. There have been days that I worked 40 hours straight. I want them to see that hard work and dedication really does pay off.”

Basista works from home where her two young boys Dj Basista (10) and Bentley Basista (4), as well as her husband Garrett Basista where they see her dream come to life. Her boys Dj and Bentley both look up to her and what she does for them.

“Mom is making a lot of money for us to have a house and have food, she is a hard worker,” Dj said. “It’s fun because when mom is done with work it doesn’t have to be far, far away for her to drive back home, that takes a lot of time and then it’s already night-time. We’re able to play more since it’s not night-time since she’s done.”

His brother, Bentley talks about how he enjoys helping his mom bake her cookies. “I help her put the frosting on,”  Bentley said. “Sometimes my daddy helps her, and I help them too, and Dj.” The whole family is a part of Basista’s company, making it that much more special.

Basista is continuing to take tons of orders in but is currently booked until the April 5. If you want to place an order you can find her on Instagram or Facebook @ Jackie’s Crazy Cookies https://www.facebook.com/jackiescrazycookies/photos/?ref=page_internal and give her a message to place an order or ask about designs and prices. During the times of crisis, it is always important to support local business owners, especially one as hard working as Basista.