Our Journey From Baking ‘Mistake’ to Successful Local Bakery (As Told to Real Simple Magazine)

The Cookie Cups

nicole pomije the cookie cups

Image credit: Chris Emeott Photography

Most of our loyal customers know the origin story of The Cookie Cups — our signature bite-size desserts were the result of a clever kitchen improvisation with a mini muffin pan. But there’s a lot more to the story since that fortunate home baking “mistake.” 

Real Simple Magazine recently interviewed our founder and creator Nicole Pomije about her path to launching and growing The Cookie Cups, and the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Be open to wherever your journey leads. 

When Nicole first started baking cookie cups, it was more of a creative outlet than a full-fledged business idea. She started by experimenting with different flavors and bringing her sweets to family gatherings.

Nicole’s next move was setting up shop at local farmers markets. For two summers, she sold out every market day and built up a devoted customer base in the process. In this time, she also started catering for customers on the side.

“I was just having a good time and enjoying what was going on,” Nicole said. “Opening a bakery — I never really saw that as an end goal.”

But she kept an open mind, allowing her to seize an opportunity that would soon change everything.

See the possibilities and potential right in front of you. 

Shortly thereafter, Nicole and her family moved to a new house in Wayzata, about 12 miles from Minneapolis. Each day, they drove past an empty, run-down, 700-square-foot shop. While some might have seen a closed business, Nicole saw the spark of a new one.

“Every day, we would drive past this empty space,” she recalled. “And one day I said to my husband, ‘Do you think that would maybe make a good spot for a bakery?’”

Nicole went with her intuition and signed a lease for the old store, then quickly got to work on renovations. The process took nine months and cost about $50,000.

“I paid for it through selling Cookie Cups at farmers markets and using funds from my marketing firm — anything I could spare,” Nicole added.

Entrepreneurship is challenging, but incredibly rewarding. 

On April 7, 2018, all of Nicole’s hard work paid off: The Cookie Cups finally opened its doors for business. Since then, she has opened a second shop in Chanhassen, and has expanded the bakery’s offerings to include cooking classes and at-home baking kits.

At the same time, she also runs her own marketing firm while juggling parenting a now three-year-old daughter. While the work isn’t easy, she has found it to be well worth her efforts.

“I wish someone had told me how fulfilling it is to run a local bakery and serve your community, because it’s priceless,” Nicole said. “When people come in and they’re happy, it’s just like, ‘Wow, I really built something here.’”

Read Nicole’s full interview feature in the February 2021 issue of Real Simple.

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