Cookie baker follows her dream
Story by Kiara Letcher and photos courtesy of My Cookie Jones, News Net Nebraska
LeShara Ways-Bothe has had a passion for cooking for a long time. But it took her years to realize that baking should be her career.
When she did, she paired up with her best friend, Nicki Becker, and began selling creations to family and friends. The duo started their company in 2008 and called it My Cookie Jones. Bothe and Becker have been friends for such a long time that Becker said their business partnership was inevitable.
“We both met when we worked at Assurity (Insurance) together,” Becker said, “and we have always worked so well together that this cookie adventure was a perfect thing for us to do. We were decorating cookies with all the kids and we were talking about how fun it would be to bake and decorate cookies for a job and My Cookie Jones was born.”
Urbandictonary.com defines jonesing as “a slang term that refers to wanting or needing something.” That seemed like the perfect fit for their company. Bothe and Becker even have started their own website to get their business off the ground. On their website, they define jonesing this way: “An addiction or craving. To have an eager or intense desire: I have a serious jones for buttery cookies.”
Bothe creates cookies in unusual shapes, including Frankenstein cookies for Halloween.
Before Bothe became a part-time chef, she worked for Assurity Life Insurance Co. and later St. Elizabeth Hospital, where she gave lessons to parents-to-be on the birthing process. Bothe was born and raised in Lincoln. She attended Lincoln High and then attended Doane College.
She now mostly stays at home with her three children and works on taking her company to the next level. Most of her business comes from word-of-mouth, but she also sells online and via e-mail. Eventually, she wants to open a shop.
Bothe’s mother, Melanie Ways, isn’t surprised by her daughter’s success. She does, however, have some words of advice for her.
“As soon as she finds a commercial kitchen, go door-to-door in the expensive areas in Lincoln and leave her information,” Ways said. She also thinks her daughter should focus on shortbread cookies.
“I love shortbread so I think she should make her decorated cookies in shortbread flavors, Ways said. “I don’t think anyone else is doing shortbread.”
Bothe might follow her mother’s advice, but her specialty is trying anything different and interesting.
She invents different cupcakes for various occasions. One popular sweet is what she calls the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake. It looks like a yellow cupcake with white frosting and cookie dough bites sitting on top. The center is filled with cookie dough. It’s a raw cookie eater’s dream come true.
“I just like to please people’s palate,” Bothe said. Along with cupcakes, she bakes cookies and cakes as well. For her children and her cousins, she has made Halloween cookies with the heads of Frankenstein, mummies, and skulls on a stick. Her mother said her daughter can create just about anything you can think up.
“About two years ago she started making decorated cookies, which have gone from really cute and relatively simple to really unique and elaborate,” Ways said.
Bothe can’t pick just one interesting thing that she herself likes to eat.
“I think it depends on my mood. Some days it’s chocolate cake, sometimes carrot, sometimes pie, cookies…. Today, it would be a piece of caramel apple pie with cinnamon ice cream.”
Bothe’s children are not quite as selective. She said they stick to one staple dessert. “They like chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate frosting,” she said.
She wants to sell her creations for bigger events such as baby showers, weddings and corporate meetings. Even if the business grows, she said, she’ll stick with hand decorating everything so all of her desserts have a special touch.
“In five years I would love to have my own kitchen and be baking for people as a jobby,” she said. When asked what a jobby, was Bothe laughed and said, “That’s a job that’s also a hobby, a jobby.”