Student Login

Tough Cookie X creator reflects on her success as the Christmas season approaches

By Admin User on December 13, 2021

Amanda Bumgarner, the creator of Tough Cookie X, a custom cookie business from Leduc, is getting ready for her busiest season, Christmas. She is working tirelessly on making cookies for her Christmas sale and custom orders.

Today, she looks back on how her business started in 2018 and the challenges she and her family faced along the way.

Custom Christmas cookies from this year. Courtesy: Instagram/@tough_cookie_x

How did you start your business?

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since my son was born, and after a while, you get kind of bored; you need something to do. I had a friend who [does] cakes and macarons, decorated sugar cookies, and I was like, I think I want to learn how to do them just for us. Not only would it be something fun for me to do, but then we’re saving money because we’re not buying them. I always wanted them for my birthday anyway. So, she gave me some tips and pointers, and it was not pretty the first time at all. [I started], it was the end of October 2018, and I did some pumpkins and acorns. [Someone] found out I was doing them and asked me to do cookies for [her son’s] birthday. I was like, I don’t want to. I don’t know what I’m doing yet, But I said, yes, of course, because I knew her. And then my husband’s work also had celebrated 50 years in business or something like that, and they asked me for cookies. And while it was pretty much like, no, I’m still not very good, nobody cared, they just wanted cookies. So I did them. And then it was the beginning of November; I think, 2018, that everyone was pushing me to start Facebook and Instagram just to kind of show my cookies. So I started them, posted my cookies, and it just blew up, which I was not expecting. I had no interest really in starting a business or making cookies for other people just because I just started, and I knew I wasn’t very good, and I knew it was going to be a lot of work and time. I kind of just wanted to do it for fun, but here we are. I love it, though. I’m glad and grateful that it blew up. I just was not expecting it at all. It’s crazy.

What has it been like to run a business from your home?

Good, it’s a little stressful. Back when I started doing cookies, we weren’t allowed to bake from home and sell. So a lot of it was, I do it for friends, my husband’s work, things like that and [I] couldn’t really charge people. And then they passed a new rule that we were able to, so at least now we’re all able to, but it’s a learning curve. I’ve never owned a business before. I had to figure out, you know, licensing and insurance and all of that. That was new. That was definitely a learning curve. But other than that, it’s like once you get it set up and going, then it’s easy, and it’s so nice to be able to be at home and work for yourself. That’s a blessing again.

A tray is full of elf cookies.

How do you start decorating a cookie?

It’s a long one—the making of the dough. I do my dough; I let it chill for an hour, and then I bake. When it’s a busy time like this, I will bake and decorate the same day. When it’s slower, I’ll usually just bake them and stick them in the container and then be done for the day because it’s so much work, and I usually bake a lot in a day. But yeah, right now, I’m baking and then decorating on the same day. You just have to let them dry all the way, and then I bag them and heat seal them, and they either go out the door or go in the freezer. It’s a process.

How did your online boutique start?

So I have a friend that I met through local makers, and she does candles, and I love candles I always have. I just had in the back of my mind, I should do a sugar cookie one just for my business, and it just sat there, and I would forget that I wanted to do it. And then finally I was like okay, I’m going to message her, so I reached out, and she was like, yeah, let’s do it. And it just kind of snowballed. It started with candles, and then we did the wax melts. And then, I reached out to another local maker. I was like, can we put funny, dessert or cookies sayings on mugs and add those in. I reached out to someone, and we did scrunchies with sprinkles on them. So it’s all bakery and cookie-based. It definitely doesn’t get as much love with how busy I am with the cookies, but it’s fun to have something else to play around with.

Will you ever hire a helping hand or buy a bakery?

Everybody asks that. I don’t think with the AHS rules; [I’m] allowed to hire anyone to help since [I’m] baking out of my home. The only help I get is the hubby, sometimes, but that’s pushing it, not that he doesn’t want to, but he doesn’t do it the way I do it, you know? I have people all the time that ask if I would open a bakery. I always say, never say never, you just never know what the future holds. And I feel like it would be fun, but I don’t know. The overhead makes me nervous and hiring people that I trust to do what I do, you know, that’s hard to let go of the reins a little bit. Right now, I’m good with being at home. It’s also since my son is special needs, he has a lot of therapies and appointments. So that was kind of what brought me to try and find something that I could do from home because my schedule is all over the place with him. I don’t know, maybe someday. I feel like it would be a lot of fun. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Custom flower cookies. Instagram/@tough_cookie_x

What was the biggest challenge this year?

[My son, Xavier,] has a brain injury he acquired that when he was almost 6, he’s going to be 12 in March. We still don’t know what happened or caused it. So we’ve been dealing with that since he got sick a couple of years ago. And because of that, he has a seizure disorder and permanent brain damage. And then along with that comes, you know, the social and academic delays, things like that. So it’s always kind of been a struggle. He was three years seizure-free, and then he had a seizure last December, and then he just had one this July. Seizures are always so different for everyone. And I know some kids that just have them; that’s just kind of their norm throughout the day, unfortunately. His aren’t quick; they last hours. The last one he had a couple of years ago, he was seizing for at least three hours that we knew of, and they had a [tough] time stopping it. So when he started having them again, we’re like, okay, we need to, you know, take a peek and see what’s going on. So they ended up doing an MRI, and they found that he was losing white and gray matter. We still don’t know why. It takes forever to try and figure things out, especially those kinds of things. So it’s been a crazy year for us. That last seizure in July, we were supposed to be admitted. So I ended up [cancelling August orders]. We’ve taken a trip to Calgary to see a genetic specialist, yea it’s a lot. I’m grateful that I can kind of work for myself. My customers understand if I have to cancel or something comes up, so that’s nice. We’re still trying to figure what’s going on with him. We still aren’t sure. My whole business is based [on] him. That’s where the Tough Cookie X comes from, because his names Xavier, we call him X. So it’s nice in the fact that I have that as my background for the business so people understand if something happens last minute and I have to cancel last minute they’re always very understanding.

Did you get any support, and how did it feel to have support from other families?

It was amazing. It’s hard. We’ve been here; it’ll be nine years in December. We don’t have any family here; we’re originally from the States. All our family is in Chicago, Illinois. So when crazy things like that happen, we’ve been through a handful since we’ve lived here. It’s hard, and it’s stressful. We always make it work, [my husband and I], we just do it, especially for your kids. You just deal with it, and you figure it out. But when you have that support and the messages coming in, it’s such a blessing. It was really nice. There were so many local businesses that stepped up and donated proceeds and dog food for our dogs. There was a bunch of local moms that sent gift cards for skip because we were supposed to be admitted, and they were like, you know, that’s hard on the pocketbook. So it was a blessing. I’m very blessed. I love our community here—everybody’s amazing and the surrounding areas. I have so many followers from Edmonton and different provinces it blows my mind. I’m so grateful. I always say I love everybody. I love them all.

Custom cookie orders have to be made months in advance. Tough Cookie X seasonal sales are usually a few weeks before but can typically sell out in minutes. If you are interested in custom or holiday cookies, you can visit her website for an inquiry.



Follow Us!

Like Us On Facebook!