Esty Hirsch, founder Whimsical Sweets, makes handmade cookies, macarons and cupcakes in Brooklyn, New York. Esty, a Brooklyn native, founded Whimsical Confections in 2011, and sister company Whimsical Sweets in 2018. Esty trained at the Institute of Culinary Education and her intricate designs and imaginative artistry have earned her a devoted following.
During the pandemic Esty found a way to create even more demand for her product and consequently has been inundated with requests. Her solution – DIY cookie kits for children stuck at home and needing to be entertained. Both parents, and Esty’s bank balance, have benefited from her outstanding results.
When Esty isn’t up to her elbows in cookies & frosting, she can be found hanging out with her husband and two daughters, shopping at Anthropologie, or going for long swims.
How would you describe the business you are in?
Whimsical Sweets started out as a custom cookie company but expanded to French macarons, custom baked goods, cookie kit subscriptions and hands on classes
What do you love about your work?
I love being able to combine art with food.. and bringing a customer’s vision to life.
And when times are slow and there’s some self doubt I always try to think about the positive feedback I get on orders, or when a little kid will meet me on the street and say I took a class with you and I’ll never forget it in my entire life!
Or when I spend time at the senior centre doing hands on classes with the elderly and it brings a smile to their faces while grabbing a cooking and having a lick of sweet frosting.
People of all ages are being impacted through the cookie world so that really makes me feel like it’s not only me providing a service, it’s also about bringing on lots of happy faces and memories and that’s been further evidenced by the enormous success of my DIY cookie kits… the list could really go on and on.
What part of your job would you gladly give away?
I have actually given away the part where I used to deal with the customers directly but now have an assistant who deals with customers directly when it comes to class bookings or custom orders.
If you were starting out in business again today, what piece of advice would you give your younger you?
Talk to people who are in a similar industry and get advice or proper resources.
Women start businesses 41% of the time to solve a problem. Sometimes this means we have a great vision but don’t have enough resources to sustain our business for the long term. Tell us what resources you started your business with eg. money saved, business premises, business partner, and how long before you started paying yourself?
It honestly started as a hobby and out of passion , but I did realize that in order for this type of business to be sustainable I needed proper business knowledge on what is worthwhile to produce whilst still being something I love to make but is profitable, rather than putting in hours and hours of work and not paying myself.
It took me a very long time to sort it out because I realized I naturally put my heart into my product therefore spending hours on creating beautiful work but at the end of day I noticed that I was losing so much sleep and not getting enough time with family and this pushed me to realize that I needed to sort of put a limit as to how much of my labor I could actually put into creating a product.
I also began to trust others to do some work for me.
It took many years before I realized that I needed to officially pay myself.
My new DIY cookie kits have been integral to some real positive change in my business.
As you know we are passionate about women #backingthemselves. So tell us about a time in the last twelve months that you’re really proud of.
Covid as we know has affected the world in a very negative way but there are many positive aspects that has came of it as well.
Whimsical Sweets started getting flooded with requests for DIY cookie kits because kids where home and parents needed something to keep them busy with, so I decided to take it to the next level and created Cookie Subscription Kits where they receive a box at their door once a month and it’s been such a success and I am extremely grateful for that.
As we are always growing and learning, what is the one thing you would like to take time to learn more about?
Definitely keep the business finances organized.
I could use more organizational skills as I find this could save a lot of time.
The world is changing so fast and technology enables us to do so much more. We’re interested in which app you could not live without and why?
I love Instagram.
It’s just a great way of connecting with your followers, easily update photos to share with them or announce a new product. It’s great to connect and get feedback pretty quickly and lots of free advertising too, so it really is helpful.
Why did you decide to become a member of the Foodpreneurs Formula®
I wish I had more time to be more involved, but I felt that I need to have someone to fall back on especially when challenging times come up or when I just don’t know something.
I am constantly learning something new.
I am slowly but surely working on different parts of the business to be able to achieve growth and success. The success of my DIY cookie kits are an example of me thinking more strategically.
We love to celebrate successes. Can you give us an example of how joining the Foodpreneurs Formula® has positively impacted your business?
First of all all the positive and vibrant posts! I wake up to them and it just really give me confidence and a push for a long day ahead.
And to see that there are so many other woman working hard to achieve success so I sort of feel like I joined my own little community and with doing the work that Chelsea provides it is super helpful with actually applying it to my business.
I constantly feel like I am moving up the ladder to success.
Thank you Esty.
Want to read more about another successful member? Check out our ‘What’s Cooking’ interview with Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, founder 31 Degrees Custom Chocolates.