Letsstalkfood functions with a firm belief in exceptional talent. As a food promotion platform, Letsstalkfood celebrate stunning food entrepreneurs who have understood and embraced their enormous potential to make a difference through something as simple, yet magical as food. The world plays host to many such individuals and as a food blogger I have the greatest respect and appreciation for them.
My digital travels through the world of instagram brought me across an artist and entrepreneur of astounding caliber. Frost me Beautiful, founded by Canadian food entrepreneur, Andrea Jensen is an absolute haven for inspiring cookie decorators. The skill, the colours and above all, the ideas and their execution is a visual treat! If not for the distance between us, I would be stalking Andrea’s kitchens every single day!
Born in Yukon and raised by her mum, Andrea loved to travel and try new things. “I have lived all over Canada while I was growing up, and it really taught me to be adaptable. I firmly believe that your attitude forms your experiences. I enjoy travelling and seeing what each place has to offer. Canada has such a variety of landscapes and people that it is always an interesting experience! My mum and I are vert close and we have always been a team and each other’s cheerleaders!”
Andrea met her husband Chris in the year 2009. As a police officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as part of the job he was posted to different places and the couple kept moving every 4-5 years. In their 3rd posting, the couple now reside in Regina, Saskatchewan. “Chris and I are very close with his family, they live across the country and we are lucky to see them a few times a year. We don’t have children, however, we do have our 90 lb German Shepherd and a tiny 6 lb Oriental Shorthair cat who get along pretty well together!”
A graduate of Digital Media Arts, Andrea soon understood that she preferred physically creating art to sitting in front of a computer screen all day. She experimented with a variety of unrelated fields before becoming a full time artist. “I never imagined I’d be able to do this and I am so happy and grateful that this is my career!”
Baking is something Andrea has enjoyed since she was a child; drop cookies, squares and other treats. It was 4 years ago in February that she started her full time decorated cookies business. Aiming at a name that was classy, original and something that implied art more than baking, Frost me Beautiful was born! “I enjoy the art aspect of decorating and royal icing is such an interesting medium to work with! There are so many different ways to use royal icing and it is a stimulating challenge to see what I can create with it. It is very important that the cookie is as tasty as it is pretty, however, to me, the cookie is the vehicle I use to create art upon,”
Andrea fondly remembers the first cookie she ever decorated- a large snowflake cookie. “The first year that I met my husband’s family was when we flew home to Ontario to spend Christmas with them back when Chris and I were dating. My sister in law Amanda (who is a talented decorator herself) had made sugar cookies and icing and kindly set it up as an icebreaker activity! I was hooked!”
Cookie decorating was shelved for a year after that, but when Andrea’s friend was raising money for Cystic Fibrosis, she offered to make decorated cookies to sell as a fundraiser. More than $1000 was raised with the cookies alone! Post this, Andrea started receiving requests from people for special occasions. Eventually she quit her full time job in 2014 and started her cookie business full time!
Character cookies are Andrea’s favourites! “I love creating art to that envokes feelings and we all have favourite characters we connect with. I find inspiration in movies, books and fantasy creatures and I love creating will all the details that make a piece really come alive!” A lot of thought goes into cookie decorating. It starts with inspirational pictures. Pictures that speak volumes are selected and then the decorating steps and icing colours are broken down, especially if 3D royal icing art comes into play. The cookies are baked in the shape that would best suit the image and then base flooded. It is then iced as per the steps charted out, allowing time to dry in between. If details have to be painted, that is done last. “I actually don’t bake much other than cookies, though if it’s a different cookie than my usual sugar cookie, I like to bake a good old fashioned chocolate chip! I prefer mine soft and chewy!”
Andrea feels that the ‘cookie community’ is quite welcoming, supportive and everyone tries to help each other out. “It’s been a wonderful experience and I try to extend a helping hand if I can, and feel supported when I need help too. There is enough work out there for everyone that I don’t feel it’s terribly competitive although I guess it depends on the location and the type of person.” The pros of being in the baking business, according to Andrea are all the opportunities to create different art. “I’ve been introduced to some neat subject matter that I never knew about before! I love that I can make a modest living doing something I love. I love the challenge of creating something different all the time!”
The biggest con, however, is paperwork, quotes, tax paperwork and so on! “My website is so neglected because I don’t enjoy working on it (I could be decorating instead!). It can at times be a lonely job. I am quite an introvert and enjoy the time alone but there are still times that it gets to be a bit too much and I need to get out of the house and see people!” Cookie decorating is also hard on the body with the constant bent over work as it needs to remain flat. “I have to take stretch breaks and take the dog out so my eyes can focus on something further away than 2 feet in front of me. I find my hands can get quite sore from squeezing the piping bag if I’m really busy.”
Andrea’s background in art has really helped her in shaping, shading and painting. She is also able to picture the finished product and break down the steps in order to create something. “I think that’s the most beneficial, as there are many times during the decorating process that it looks terrible, but you just need to trust the process and keep going. That’s a line I repeat to myself when I start to get nervous, lol “Trust the process!” Being very detail oriented, if a design does not come out right, the whole thing is re done. It’s hard when so many hours are out into something but good quality is something Andrea swears by. “It’s the detail work I really enjoy, and why working from my home is ideal. The time all the detail takes is not conducive to making money in retail cookie sales, but it’s perfect for my home based business.”
Frost Me Beautiful has had an overwhelmingly positive response! “Early on in my career, I have a had a couple of experiences with people feeling that they didn’t receive what they had pictured, and I have learned as a business practice to invoice with detailed descriptions that need approval, in order to make sure we are communicating with the same goal!”
Of all the spectacular cookies Andrea has baked, her personal favourite remains the set of ‘IT’killer clown cookies that I creates for a birthday party last Halloween. “The set really challenged my hand painting and 3D icing skills, and I feel like it forced me to improve.” Another absolute favourite is the Hogwarts crest and train cookies she made last year, the recurring theme is built up 3D effects combined with hand painting. “It’s hard to get the full impression from a photo! I have always wanted to try a large stained glass cookie of Beauty and the Beast! It’s my favourite movie and I want to learn the technique to make the cookie look like stained glass.”
Andrea is an adventurous foodie! Unfortunately she has several food allergies which limit her choices quite a bit. “This is part of the reason I never got into baking and decorating cakes as I wouldn’t be able to work with or taste most of the ingredients. My favourite food is Oysters and love anything pickled! I also love sweets like butter tarts and flavoured chocolate (orange, mint).”
When not baking, Andrea can be found curled up with a good fantasy or a science fiction novel. She loves going to the movies and travelling. “I am always dreaming about my next adventure!”
If baking were not the career chosen, she would have loved to become a police officer “But then I decided it wouldn’t be the best career for me. The job is very stressful under normal conditions and I would have trouble separating my emotions from the work. However,I have always wanted to be an artist and never imagined it would involve cookies! I absolutely love being an artist and it is the perfect fit for me. I feel blessed!”
A future with a better work/life balance is what Andrea is personally moving toward. “I took on too much last year and started to burn out. I want to make sure I still have time for family and friends and travelling.” As far as Frost Me Beautiful is concerned, it would be to accept fewer generic work and concentrate on complex edible art pieces with built up 3D icing and hand painting. “I love the challenge and am excited to accept more commissions, although shipping these pieces can be a bit nerve wracking! I really want to push myself artistically with these pieces!”
To inspiring cookie decorators everywhere, Andrea advices to concentrate on learning icing consistencies. “I teach beginner cookie decorating and we spend a lot of time on that. If you can get your consistencies correct you can literally do anything! When I started I bought a ton of random cutters and tools, most of which I never used. Start with your basics and purchase as you need and you’ll save yourself a lot of money. Join cookie Facebook groups, and look at YouTube for instruction and help!” She says there is much to be learned online and to never be afraid to ask questions! Most of all, just keep practicing. “Even cookies that aren’t perfect taste just as good. Remember that it’s a cookie, and your work is from the heart and you can’t go wrong.”
Andrea is a great baker, but above that, she is a wonderful, kind, polite and sweet person who went out of her way to make a budding food blogger like me feel at home! She took time to give detailed answers to all my questions and even created darling cookies with the Letsstalkfood logo on them! I could not be more thrilled! Thank you Andrea for being your amazing self!
Visit Frost me Beautiful: