She taught herself to bake by watching YouTube movies and Pinterest in her spare time. She has a pure consolation with social-media advertising and an entrepreneurial spirit.
And her candy treats mirror a whimsy and on-trend aesthetic clearly influenced by the likes of meals blogs and Instagram: Cupcakes garnished with petite tacos (truly Oreo cookie halves full of green-tinted coconut for lettuce and orange-candy-sprinkle “cheese”). Single-serving trifles in cute mason jars for a farmhouse-chic wedding ceremony reception. A pink princess cake peppered with edible gold leaf and topped with completely matched pink macaroons.
Swenson’s artistry and eye for element are particularly spectacular whenever you notice she is a cottage baker. She seems all these elaborately iced cupcakes, decadent apple cheesecake bars and sugar cookie-decorating kits as a facet hustle — after working full time as a mortgage nearer at Bell Financial institution.
Her enterprise, often known as Maggie Mae’s Sugar & More, occurred largely accidentally. The Fargo native grew up with a mother who was residence baker, however she didn’t have a lot curiosity within the pastime till she began faculty at North Dakota State College. Intrigued by the intelligent baking concepts on Pinterest and in search of a passion to name her personal, she started attempting numerous recipes. A lot of her abilities got here from exploring Pinterest websites, watching YouTube and following tutorials by Courtney Rich, the self-taught home baker who has built a cookbook-selling, podcast-hosting, merch-selling empire known as Cake by Courtney.
When Swenson began posting the baking initiatives she made for family and friends on Fb, her followers oohed and aahed. Then they requested if she took orders.
Self-taught or not, Swenson’s baked items confirmed a attraction and end that acquired them seen.
“Individuals truly needed it so I believed, ‘I assume I’ll make baking my factor,’” she says, with amusing. “It was a contented accident.”
That “accident” has change into so in-demand that, round Christmastime, when the cookie, cupcake and dessert orders are flying, she places in one other 40-hour workweek atop her common job. One vacation season, she discovered herself baking 2,000 cookies on a single weekend.
It’s sufficient to make Swenson fear that the non-commercial GE range in her south Fargo twin residence would possibly conk out someday. But it retains on baking, displaying a quiet tenacity not in contrast to the younger baker who operates it.
Contributed / Maggie Swenson.
In 2019, not lengthy after Swenson had began her enterprise, she acquired a giant break. On the time, she was in the identical CrossFit class as David Reid, proprietor of Radiant Homes.
Reid invited her to be an illustration baker in considered one of his houses, which was featured in the annual Parade of Homes materials.
It was not solely enjoyable to work out of a gorgeous, high-end kitchen, however the expertise additionally gave Swenson a lift of confidence when she wanted it.
“It largely helped me personally flip the nook of going ‘all in’ on my enterprise and making my enterprise a much bigger dedication in my life,” she says. “I’d say that’s after I began experimenting, doing specials, creating new menu gadgets and actually dedicating a whole lot of my additional time to the enterprise.”
Though COVID would quickly descend, Swenson stayed as busy as ever. Her cookie-decorating kits had been a success with homebound mother and father who had been determined for actions to maintain their youngsters busy.
The kits — containing 12 do-it-yourself sugar cookies, three baggage of frosting, three sorts of sprinkles and directions — bought for $25.
The sugar cookie recipe got here from her grandmother, who she had by no means met as a result of she handed away from breast most cancers. “It was so good to make use of her recipes. I felt prefer it helped me get to know her higher,” Swenson says.
By utilizing Google forms on her Facebook site for orders and providing curbside pickup from her townhome, Swenson was capable of supply comparatively contact-free supply.
Contributed/Tomi Daybreak Photograph.
Final winter, the orders by no means stopped for stylish sizzling cocoa bombs. “I do not even understand how a lot cocoa I nonetheless have left in my pantry,” she says, smiling. “It is ridiculous.”
Different fashionable gadgets have been Swenson’s particular vacation packing containers, during which clients can order a field of various, adorned cookies for Christmas or Valentine’s Day. They vary from $30 for a small field to $90 for a big measurement.
Younger folks seeking to supply one thing new at bridal showers and weddings will order her individualized trifles, accessible in flavor-combos like pumpkin mousse-toffee crumble or lemon-blueberry.
Swenson additionally has adorned cupcakes to go well with virtually any request. Certainly one of her glad clients is Kelly Hieb of Fargo, who praises Swenson’s personable nature and willingness to assist when Hieb finds herself in a bind for baked items.
Most lately, Swenson made rainbow cupcakes with pink frosting for Hieb’s younger daughter. “Her work is at all times precisely as I would like it,” Hieb says. “The cupcakes had been in actual fact an ideal rainbow when she bit into them. It was superb.”
Contributed / Maggie Swenson.
For Swenson, the massive challenge hasn’t been getting sufficient enterprise; it’s been ensuring she does not get greater than she will be able to deal with.
Swenson is requested on a regular basis if she would ever flip her facet hustle right into a full-time enterprise. “I shuttle on that,” she says. “Some days, I’d actually prefer to, however some days I believe, ‘That is exhausting.’”
In a method, she believes reserving her baking to a facet pursuit is the best compromise: She nonetheless has a assured earnings and she or he doesn’t must make a giant funding in a brick-and-mortar enterprise. “It’s type of good from that side, to have one thing to fall again on when you’ve got a slower month,” she says.
One wouldn’t assume the world of closing prices would have a lot in frequent with the world of cupcakes, however Swenson says in any other case. “I really feel like, with the mortgage world, I’ve needed to be very organized, so I’ve tried to type of spill that into my very own enterprise,” she says. “As a result of it’s important to keep organized or it will get to be a bit a lot.”
Swenson says her planner is her “greatest pal,” and every week, she rigorously blocks out time for work and her baking orders so she has time to spend with household or mates.
Swenson is aware of she will be able to name on her household for assist when she wants it. Particularly her mother, Mary, whose early affect as a baker should have made an impression. Every Christmas season, her mom helps Swenson fill Maggie Mae’s vacation assortment packing containers by baking the “Pretty Bars” — M&M- and chocolate chip-topped, almond bark-drizzled bars with an oatmeal crust and a gooey caramel layer.
“She’s an professional at these,” Swenson says.
Swenson additionally says her mother “has been a saint” when it comes time to face the inevitable aftermath of baking: a sink filled with soiled dishes.
“She’s been a trooper at serving to me with dishes,” she says, laughing. “Critically, I believe if I needed to do all of the dishes each time I baked, I’d not be doing it anymore. That’s the worst half.”
Discover Maggie Mae’s Sugar & Extra on Facebook.