Whether the cookies come out of the oven in Connecticut or Ketchikan, Michaela Leslie has her eye on design.
"Coastie Cookies" began while Leslie was a college student in Connecticut. The business focuses on creating cookies with custom designs and themes, at the request of the customer, for occasions such as birthday parties, holiday gatherings or gifts. Leslie also produces cookies to fit a certain theme, such as "back to school," or "Ketchikan."
After her boyfriend graduated the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in May and they both moved to Ketchikan in early July, the business also came to town.
"Coastie Cookies" was inspired by a holiday baking show.
"I saw a Food Network special," Leslie explained during a recent interview with the Daily News. "It was called, like, 'Christmas Cookie Challenge' or something. And I've always been into art projects; I usually have a couple projects going at a time, and I was looking at this special, and I was like, 'Yeah, I could probably do this.'
"So I started just teaching myself how to do it, watching a lot of videos on Instagram of other people decorating, and I just kind of picked everything up from there," she continued.
After operating for around a month in Ketchikan, Leslie said it is already different than when she did business in Connecticut.
"It's different, because back home I was definitely relying on a lot of family friends and stuff for orders so I'm definitely trying to use social media to my advantage," she said.
The business takes requests through Facebook, and Leslie is licensed as a cottage industry, so she can fulfill orders from her apartment.
"I'm slowly building it up, and Facebook is really good for that," she said.
Leslie said that it usually takes around three days to complete an order.
"I like to sketch out my cookies first," she explained. "So I sketch out my designs, and I bake the cookies one day, and I spend another day decorating."
Leslie said that getting the designs just right takes a few different steps, such as frosting and icing.
"Definitely, the frosting is a little temperamental," Leslie said. "So if you don't get exactly the right consistency you need, the designs are going to run all over the cookie. You can break it pretty easily if you drop it."
The cookies are topped with a meringue-based icing, which hardens and preserves the designs.
"It's really cool because when it dries, it's pretty hard," Leslie explained. "So you can create lots of different designs and they don't smudge when its dry or whatever. And it's fun because you can paint on it. So I've done watercolor cookies and different styles like that."
Leslie also uses a dehydrator to "set" the frosting, but is careful not to use it for long periods of time, as it makes the frosting too crystalized for customization.
After arriving in Ketchikan in July, Leslie has taken several orders and noticed that events such as children's birthday parties seem to be very popular occasions. Leslie said that she has filled frequently filled orders for cookies based on designs from the kids' cartoon "Paw Patrol."
Leslie said that her favorite aspect of the business is being able to customize a creation for a client — she remembered even designing a cookie to be a portrait of a child in their favorite outfit.
She said the business gives her the "the ability to create something people can actually connect to," which is something she enjoys "because I try to really incorporate what they're interested in."
Leslie charges $27 per dozen for custom cookies, and also offers "pre-made" designs (centered around a theme or holiday, not an individual request) for a sliding price.