After working for 30 years in
the property and casualty insurance business, Cindy Harper decided she was
ready for a change and will soon trade her office supplies for baking supplies.
“I didn’t want to
spend the rest of my working life staring at a computer,” she recalled, “I had
a client at my desk one day who was in his early 70’s and had just completed
his third fight with cancer. He was buying the car of his dreams. I
decided I didn’t want to look back at my life and wish I had pursued something
I love to do.”
The California native has a degree in
economics from Pepperdine University. Later, she went on to attend Southeast
Community College’s Culinary and Hospitality program and graduated in 2016.
She’s always enjoyed baking, and now has her own business. She’s got a booth at
the Farmer’s Market at Union College and also teaches baking classes through
SCC’s Continuing Education Program.
decorating sugar cookies many years ago, and while I didn’t make any decorated
sugar cookies in the classes I took, what I did learn was how to independently
search out the information I needed to improve my skills, how to purchase and
cost the supplies and ingredients needed and the basics of how to run a
culinary business. All of that is very helpful now.”
Harper expanded her repertoire to include
baking chocolates in addition to her cookies. Thanks to a Cottage Food Law
passed in the Nebraska legislature in 2019, she can now sell her baked goods
out of her home, in addition to farmer’s markets.
received a professional chocolatier certification and making chocolates is now
one of my favorite things to do,” she said “The best thing though is to make
something that someone really enjoys, and that it somehow makes their day a
Harper is currently in the process of
launching her website. Beyond that, her long-term goals are to build up her
business and keep her busy during retirement.
Brandy McWilliams is another graduate who is
taking advantage of the Cottage Food Law. The Lincoln native enrolled in the
program after browsing the website, and said she loved learning about food
“It was like a ‘food
culture shock’ because there are so many ways to produce cuisines and pastries,”
she recalled. “The teachers were very hands-on and wanted to see us students
succeed. I felt so comfortable.”
She graduated in 2008 from the
Culinary/Hospitality program. She’s always had a love for baking that she got
from her mother and grandmothers. She started designing cakes on the side and
after getting requests from friends and family, decided to start her own
“Over the course
of years, I have been studying different techniques, sharpening my skills, and
have worked with several amazing cake decorators that helped me elevate my
mindset,” she said. “This year, I just became self-employed with my ‘Art of
Love Cakes’ business.”
In addition to
baking cakes, McWilliams also enjoys baking macarons, brownies and chocolate
chip cookies. Her short-term goal is opening a kitchen studio for young people,
and her long-term goal is substantial business growth and client loyalty.
McWilliams’s business can be found at artoflovecakes.com
and Harper’s is on Facebook at #creativeconfectionsne.