Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Kowalski.
Hi Katie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
My first big baking adventure was when I was running for student council president in high school. I baked 450 cupcakes for my campaign– and I won! My scope broadened a bit, such as in trying to master the chocolate chip cookie and making my first orange chiffon cake. Still, my baking could be described as–at best–a pretty tasty passing dish. In the meantime, I earned my BA from Aquinas College, worked as a teacher in Detroit and Dearborn, and brought baked goods to work when I had the chance.
Then, when I had just become a stay-at-home mom to our first child (now 4), my husband gave me a cookbook that changed my entire outlook on baking. I started weighing my ingredients in grams rather than spooning them into a cup; I learned to bake pie, bread, way better cake, all kinds of buttercreams, even caramel and fruit curds! We moved back to Grand Rapids, I joined our Facebook neighborhood group, and I settled into my stay-at-home mom life with a side of quite good baking. I took every chance to bake after that: birthdays, bad days, holidays, half birthdays, neighbor’s sister’s birthdays…
Soon I realized that if I wanted to keep baking as much as I had been, I’d need more of the finished products to leave the house. This June, I joined a baking fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I offered to bake for anyone who could provide a donation to the cause. In that month, my skills in decorating really took off; I built more relationships with neighbors and realized my product was worth something. I raised over $1,000 for the cause! After that month and the amazing reception of my baking, I just knew I had to continue. I coined my bakery One Woman Bakery a few weeks later and haven’t even had a moment to look back!
Pandemic/mom life was very isolating, but this bakery has helped me build so many connections that I didn’t even realize I was missing. Now, I can have my cake as a stay-at-home mom baker…and sometimes eat it too.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Learning how to balance my life as a stay-at-home mom to two toddlers and starting a business from home has been challenging! My husband already works long hours, so managing my time has become much harder. I love it, but I struggle to know when to end work and focus on demands at home. This often means late nights. I’m still working on finding a balance, but I myself improving my time management and efficiency with each order I complete.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
One Woman Bakery is a hyper-local bakery specializing in custom-decorated cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, and cheesecakes. I love working one-on-one with my clients to design special desserts for any occasion. There are home bakeries everywhere, but what sets me apart is a skill set that spans multiple types of desserts that equally look and taste great. I like to think that I combine an adventurous and playful approach to baking with an acute eye for detail. I am not afraid to experiment with unique flavor profiles, but I also try every new recipe two to three times before I am satisfied that it is ready for my clients. I intentionally keep my menu small but flexible so that each creation maintains a level of excellence my clients can expect.
I would not be here without the immense community support that I have received since starting my fundraiser and opening the doors to my bakery a few months ago. The relationships I build with my clients are what have truly helped turned my love of baking into a profession worth keeping. I aim to stay hyper-local so that I can be a reliable neighborhood dessert artist that never sacrifices quality for quantity.
I am so excited for future orders; with fall right around the corner, it is the perfect time to showcase my love of pie and tart baking! And I will continue to take custom orders for holiday gifts, birthdays, weddings, and everything in between.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was a very well-mannered, somewhat quiet “country” girl. I grew up in a modest farm home on a few acres of land; that was my playroom. I tagged along behind my older brothers when they went hiking, found myself lost in little worlds that I created beneath pine trees, rode my bike up and down the dirt road to one of the only gas stations in town (with returnable cans in tow to exchange for candy), and sometimes told friends I couldn’t play that day because I needed to clean my room.
I always loved school and found it to be my happy place. I cried at the end of every school year and delivered hand-written notes to my favorite teachers, gushing at how much I loved and would miss them. I was by all accounts the goodiest of two shoes. As I got older, I started to explore a world outside of pure academics. I headed the student government, joined the drama club, sang in choir, and wrote for the school newspaper.
After high school, I went to Aquinas College and met my now husband, Evan. We have shared our lives together through college, three teaching jobs, medical school, a surgical residency, the births of our two children, and now the opening of a bakery! He is my greatest support system and most reliable taste-tester. We spend much of our time apart because of his long residency hours, but the time away from each other has pushed me to find out what I really love. I have learned more about myself in the past year than in many years combined. And honestly, I think this is just the beginning.
- Decorated sugar cookies; $45+/dozen
- Tarts, Pies, and Cheesecakes: $30+
- Cupcakes: $35+/dozen
- Drop cookies/bars (not custom): $20/dozen
- Website: www.onewomanbakery.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/one.woman.bakery/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onewomanbakery