Becky Thomas began seeing cookies at events and markets throughout the community several years before she began her enterprising business. “I saw these cookies and my first thoughts were, ‘How do they get the icing so perfect like that?’ and I told my kids I was going to learn how to make them,” she explained.
Beginning the Cookie-Making Journey
Thomas was passionate about cake decorating at the time and chose to take classes at Michael’s to enhance her skillset. To take the next steps in her planning process, she then experimented with her own cookie recipe, perfecting it in 2018. She enrolled in a local employment readiness program, learning safe food handling, WHMIS, and accounting while refining her baking skills. After trial and tasty error, her icing mix was finally achieved in October 2019, which is when Bex Baked Goods was launched.
“I love cooking for my family,” she said, “Our food is our medicine. It’s healing, and I try my best to be mindful of that and give thanks when I’m working with it.” Her grandmother was her biggest inspiration, she explained, teaching her at a young age the goodness that can come from providing quality food with love.
“She went to residential school, and it was hard for her to say, ‘I love you.’ Through her food, she could do that. Seeing her cook always inspired me to bring food to the people I loved. She taught me that whenever you’re angry, you don’t cook because whatever you’re feeling goes into your food … I draw my strength from my grandma and my grandpa … They’re my lifetime angels,” she said.
At the encouragement of her husband, daughters, and sister, she baked for her first Six Nations market in November 2019. She started out with a $200 charge on her credit card for cookie supplies and additional items that might sell at her table, and her daughter offered to make her first business card.
Her table not only sold out, but by the end of that month she had twenty orders for Christmas! With a little bit of nervousness mixed with a lot of excitement, she proceeded to bake and process orders for the holidays, hardly believing the uptake. From January to March 2020, she continued taking personal orders for birthdays and special events. And then, the pandemic came on the scene.
Building Bex Baked Goods During the Pandemic
With gathering restrictions in place, the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory remained relatively isolated in a short period. Birthday parties, special events and bazaars were no longer being held. Opting to take a step back to review and plan, Thomas reflected on her options with pandemic restrictions in place.
What she originally thought was the platform for sales had collapsed, but in a stroke of good fortune, the terms “porch pickup” and “drive-by party” were popularized. With a few innovating moves and some solid customer service, she found her orders continuing in a new direction, and Bex Baked Goods flourished when group celebration and gatherings for special events were shuttered.
Her original plan was to anchor sales with markets in the Six Nations Territory. Once events began to arise that fit the social-distancing model, that soon became relevant and sustainable again. Her business was recognized as a mainstay that drew shoppers for its quality product, heartfelt messages, creativity, and tastiness.
“I registered for a local market and the planner called me, telling me how happy he was that Bex Baked Goods was going to be in attendance. He said he knew just where we were going to be placed because we would attract others – that people were actually looking for us!” Thomas noted with a smile.
From Then to Now
Since that time, she has taken a fledgling home-based business and turned it into a model of enterprise inspiration. She continues to release Valentines, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, as well as a host of many other special event cookies.
She’s developed advent calendars for the holidays which sell out annually, and she works with individuals for their own milestones and showers of all shapes and sizes. Yet, her modesty remains. “I want to satisfy my customer more than make money,” she explained. “I want to make them happy. And honestly, I can’t believe people are paying me for doing something that I love!” she added.
Bringing in culture, her cookie designs and shapes take on a whole new aspect. Being able to express pride in the Six Nations community’s lineage through edible design is a fundamental element to the following that Bex Baked Goods has developed.
Language cookies, designs familiar to the Haudenosaunee People, and inspiring quotes such as “Have A Good Mind,” have all come from Thomas’ creative processes combined with community partnerships.
Her plans for growth within Six Nations and the surrounding area as a result are unlimited. The business has been the focus of a recent CBC News special feature, and Thomas was interviewed for CTV Kitchener’s Saturday afternoon segment, “Made Right Here,” focusing on makers from around the region who are not only enterprising but also have large heart.
Options to work with accommodations, shops, and mail-order business, in addition to continued social media marketing, has Thomas’ long-term sights set on a Bex Baked Goods storefront.
With potential to expand her market base across Canada (having filled orders bound for events in Toronto and Calgary,) she has hopes that her love of making sweet and special remembrances will continue for a long time to come.
“It’s been great exposure, and I have so much enjoyment of what I’m doing. And now, I’m hoping to have a dedicated space where I can separate my business from personal life, improve my time management skills, and plan for holidays and special event orders,” she explained.
Want to get your hands on some of Bex’s beautiful creations? Head to Bex’s Facebook page where she posts available options for orders and the instructions on how to do so!