Stephanie Cudnik, the owner of Steph's Sweets Boutique, has the products to cure any sweet tooth. Read on to learn this Ocala resident's story.
I officially met Ocala mom of 4, Stephanie Cudnik, at the Brick City Playground when she was impressively wheeling around a double stroller filled with sleeping baby twins. Her two other kiddos happily trailed behind.
It wasn't until later, at a friend's son's birthday party, that I tasted one of Stephanie's delicious and beautiful super-hero-themed cookies.
Find out how Stephanie ambitiously juggles motherhood and her "sweet" Ocala biz below.
Stephanie Cudnik, Ocala Mom of 4 and Owner of Steph's Sweets Boutique, Beautifully Customizes Cookies and More
Q. How did Steph's Sweets Boutique come to be?
A. Honestly, the reason I started it was because my cousin's wife had recently had a baby, and it was rough on her.
I've been there.
Becoming a mother is no joke. So I felt bad and wanted to send her some macarons to cheer her up, which got the wheels spinning.
I originally wanted only to sell macarons, but cookies were much easier to ship, so I started with those instead.
Q. How did Steph's Sweets Boutique get its name?
I wanted my name to be attached to my brand/business. So I was initially going to go with "Cudnik's Cookies" or something along those lines.
But I knew I wanted to eventually add macarons, so "Sweets" covered any sweet treat I would add in the future.
Q. What are your top-selling products and why?
A. My custom cookies were my top sellers until I scaled back on accepting custom orders. Now, my top-selling product is my macarons.
They're just really flavorful, and the little ruffles on the "feet" make them look cute and chic.
They're a very "in" dessert right now, and they taste outstanding, so it's easy to see why they're gaining popularity!
Q. What is Steph's Sweets Boutique's mission?
A. My mission is to give my customers high-quality and delicious desserts that are also beautiful.
I think we've all eaten a beautiful sugar cookie that tasted and felt like chalk, and I never wanted that to be associated with my cookies. Or any of my products!
Taste is the most important thing to me, so quality ingredients are a must.
Q. What does your biz do for the Ocala community?
A. I try to shop local and promote local businesses often. For example, I buy my free-range eggs from a friend who has a farm about 20 minutes away from me (Shepard Farms).
And I recently joined the Nice Ladies group, a group of female small business owners who will find ways to give back to the community!
Q. What is it like being a work-at-home mom of 4?
It's definitely stressful at times.
I used to pull a lot of all-nighters when I made many custom cookies. I had to cut back on accepting cookie orders because all the detailed work is extremely time-consuming, and I literally would not get any sleep some nights.
I'd work all night, and then my kids would wake up for school and see me still up, packaging cookies.
Now, I try to mainly do desserts that I can make pretty quickly and are more time-efficient, so I do not have to stay up until 7 AM finishing orders.
Q. Do you have an interesting story about baking that you would like to share?
A. I started baking when I was a teenager, and when I moved to Ocala in 2008, I'd sometimes sell cupcakes and cookies to friends.
I offered to make a baby shower "belly cake" as a gift for my boss once in like 2011, but I forgot to add sugar to the cake!!!
The cake was so beautiful; my boss didn't want to cut it during the shower. Once everyone left, she finally decided to cut herself a slice and realized there was no sugar!! Haha.
I'm so glad it was a free cake and that nobody else ate it, but I felt terrible!
Q. How does Steph's Sweets Boutique differ from other local baking businesses?
There are honestly a plethora of talented bakers in Marion County, but I try to distinguish myself a bit with my style.
I like the girly touches and the glam! I'm all about pretty packaging and gold accents and giving my products a bit of a luxurious edge.
I'm currently working on designing custom packaging to set my brand apart a bit more.
Q. What's your favorite thing about your biz?
A. I love that I can do whatever I want! I think of all kinds of different flavors and get to experiment with different things, and there are no rules.
If something fails, it's not a big deal, and I can try something else.
I'm always learning and studying, and it's something I look forward to.
Q. What are your hopes for your business's future?
A. I would love to have a brick-and-mortar location someday when my kids are older.
It's a ton of work to run a bakery, so it doesn't seem feasible for at least another ten years.
But it would be cool to see that dream come to life someday.
Stephanie's drive, creativity, and desire to run her own baking biz has certainly paid off, and I'm psyched to watch her business grow.
As a work-at-home mom myself, I know the juggling act that comes along with watching kiddos AND running your own biz. It's no easy feat.
There's no question in my book that this Ocala mom is a baking rock star!
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