From baking a few batches of peanut butter cookies in grade school to taking orders for customers all over Kentucky weeks in advance, Christina Jones has turned her love of baking into a full-time profession with the launch of her business, Baked. With the help of a good friend and lots of social media love, she has been serving up sweet treats made with real butter, real bourbon vanilla, and high-quality chocolate since 2016. Meet our inspiring new FACE of Louisville, Christina Jones!
How did you get into baking?
I tell people that I’ve been baking my entire life. I think I really fell in love with baking in the sixth grade. I took a home economics class, and the very first thing I learned to make was peanut butter cookies. From that point, I think I made peanut butter cookies for everyone. Everybody got peanut butter cookies from me for their birthday that year! That just kind of started it. I’ve pretty much been baking since then.
At what point did baking go from being a hobby to being your full-time job?
I didn’t really consider it as a professional option until I was in my late 20s. I was at West Virginia University getting my bachelor’s in history — I wanted to be a teacher. While I was working on my bachelor’s and my husband was working on his master’s, we got pregnant with my daughter. At that point, I decided I want to stay home for a while. I took some time off to be a stay-at-home mom, and I spent that entire time baking. It was kind of a time for me to consider what I really wanted to do. I realized I didn’t want to go back for my bachelor’s and become a teacher. At that point, I decided to go to culinary school.
After culinary school, you worked as a pastry chef at the now-closed Corbett’s restaurant, right?
Yeah, I worked at Corbett’s for four or five years. I loved fine dining; it’s definitely a different level of intensity than bakeries. I loved the scene, and I loved everyone I worked with, but I don’t think it was really my style. I think my style is more cutesy than sophisticated. I really kind of found myself by baking cookies and sort of fun, cutesy cakes.
You bake lots of cookies and cakes. Which is your favorite?
Probably sugar cookies; they’re also my most popular. With sugar cookies, I just kind of zone out; it’s like this moment of Zen — I’ve completely fallen asleep decorating cookies.
So, sugar cookies are your most popular item. How are customers finding you and placing these orders?
It all started with a Facebook page. I think my first 50 or so likes [were] all from my family and friends. I then started posting in a couple of mom groups, and honestly, I don’t know what happened. It exploded. It all just took off via Facebook and Instagram.
How busy are you now, and what is a typical day like?
That’s an interesting question; it really depends on the season. Around Christmas and Derby, it’s obviously the busiest. I’m working anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week. I’ve worked longer days than I normally would like to work, especially when I started out, because I wanted to have more flexibility. But I enjoy it, and it’s kind of been a transition. Our lease at our commercial kitchen ended in December, and with the pandemic and not knowing the future, we decided to move to an at-home business. I have a small commercial kitchen in the back of my house where my den used to be. I now have more flexibility with how I work. I can get up, make breakfast, then go straight to work, then stop and make lunch. I might work a little bit longer than a typical eight-hour day, but I have more flexibility with my time.
Do you have any help?
I have a friend who helps me. I do all the baking and purchasing, but my friend — whom I’ve known forever — finally insisted on helping because I was swimming in emails and missing orders. It just got to the point where it was completely overwhelming. So, I have an assistant that is one of my close friends. She answers all my emails, and she sends all my invoices. She also created a Google calendar, so I see all my orders and I don’t miss anything. She has been very helpful.
How far in advance do customers have to place orders?
We ask for two weeks, just so we have everything on the schedule — especially during holidays because we typically get a lot busier during that time. But we also have a weekly menu that we post every Wednesday, which is available for the next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We do pickups at two different locations in town, and we deliver. So, we ask for two weeks, but we can usually fill orders in about a week.
What is the best advice you’ve been given or received?
The best advice was not personally given to me, but I’m a big fan of Brené Brown. I listen to her podcasts, and I’ve read all of her books. The best advice that I repeat to myself frequently is, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There are so many bakers in Louisville, there are so many cookie decorators in Louisville, and it’s so hard. Sometimes, I think, There are so many options — why would people choose me? But I know I just have to remember that that kind of thinking is the thief of my joy. I do what I do because I love to do it, and it’s my passion. I’m not going to compare myself to others. I’m just going to move forward on my journey.
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Netflix — it’s definitely a way to kind of shut my brain off after baking all day; my hot tub for the same reason, it’s very relaxing; and my dog. We recently got her — we got a COVID puppy because we were bored and needed something to do with our life. She’s definitely kind of changed our entire family dynamic. So — Netflix, puppy, and hot tub.
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