Taylorsville High graduate building her artistic cookie business one icing stroke at a timeFeb 02, 2022 02:44PM ● By Carl Fauver
Caitlin Heckenliable runs her cookie business out of her childhood home in Taylorsville. (Courtesy of Caitlin Heckenliable)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Growing up in Taylorsville, Caitlin Heckenliable loved to cook – and particularly bake cookies – with her mom, dad and two sisters. She also had a grandfather who was a professional chef.
“Cooking was a whole family thing, especially baking cookies and eclairs,” Heckenliable said. “It was a lot of fun and a great way for us to be together. It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
More recently, the 2010 Taylorsville High School graduate and mother of two sons (Ian, 6, and Owen, 4) has turned that love for baking into a fledgling Taylorsville business: One Heck of a Treat (oneheckofatreat.com).
“I specialize in custom-decorated sugar cookies,” Caitlin explained. “The first cookies I ever made professionally were for my sister’s baby shower in 2016. They were horrendous. But friends and family did start asking me to make more for them. I would say I ‘dabbled’ in it until 2019. Now I’m working to grow it into a successful home-based business.”
One of Caitlin’s sisters came up with the business name, One Heck of a Treat.
“It’s a play off my (Heckenliable) name,” she said. “Both my sisters have been a major help on the business side – helping me come up with finance plans and other things.”
Caitlin, her husband Taylor and their boys live in West Valley City. Eventually that will be the location of their home-based business, after construction of a second, “work” kitchen is completed in their basement. But for now, Heckenliable bakes out of her mom’s larger Taylorsville kitchen. And she’s often booked out a month or two in advance.
“I try to make six to eight dozen cookies per week,” Caitlin explained. “The most I have done is 13 dozen in a week. It gets more hectic closer to the holidays. And a dozen cookies can take me a week if the frosting artwork is particularly detailed.”
Heckenliable also makes cakes, macaroons, cupcakes and other confections through her business. But 80% or more of her time is spent on cookies.
“I took a generic art class in high school – and a watercolor class in college – but I would not call myself an artist,” Heckenliable said. “I have just always had a very creative side. I love the challenge of decorating cookies with people’s faces or silhouettes. I’ve also made cookies to look like wrestlers, recreated a (record) album cover and decorated cookies to look like my sister’s dog.”
Caitlin’s high school sweetheart – now husband of eight years – Taylor, is the family’s primary breadwinner now, working as a diesel mechanic. But he’s confident his wife’s passion will continue growing into a valuable second income for the family.
“I am absolutely proud of her,” Taylor said. “She has taken her business from nothing to something so fast. Her ultimate goal is to have a storefront. I think she is well on her way.”
About a year ago, a casting agent for the Food Network program “Christmas Cookie Challenge” reached out to Caitlin about appearing on their show after viewing her artistic treats on social media. A couple of months later – after she made some “tryout” confections for them – Heckenliable was on a plane bound for Knoxville, Tennessee.
“The studio paid for my flight and hotel room for four nights,” she said. “The other competitors from my show, three other women and one man, were from Arizona, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Massachusetts. I had not met any of them before we all competed on the show. Most of us became fast friends, with so much in common, and have stayed in touch.”
For the record, Caitlin did not win the show’s $10,000 grand prize. But, nonetheless, she describes the experience as “life-changing.”
“I have had so many people visit my website and reach out to me since I was on the show,” Heckenliable added. “They’ve asked me to ship cookies across the country. My business is not set up to do that. But I know the exposure on the show was good.”
Early next month (March 2-5), Caitlin will reunite with some of her fellow “Christmas Cookie Challenge” contestants to attend CookieCon (yes, it’s a thing) in Reno, Nevada.
After that, depending on how her business grows, you might find a "One Heck of a Treat" booth at a Salt Lake Valley farmers’ market this summer. The Heckenliables are also considering registering a vehicle with the Food Truck League of Utah.
“I wouldn’t cook or decorate cookies from the truck,” Caitlin explained. “But we would have pre-made cookies and other goodies for people to purchase as a dessert after eating dinner from one of the other trucks.”
Heckenliable has no idea just how successful her cookie business will become. But for now – as a stay-at-home mom with two young sons – she considers “One Heck of a Treat” to be one heck of a good job.