FAIRBANKS - With almost 1,000 cookie cutters to sort through, you might be a little overwhelmed at picking out the right shape for the perfect cookie. If that sense of panic washes over you, sit down, relax, enjoy a chai cookie with anise icing, and let the Kitchen Vixen do her thing.
The Kitchen Vixen is Jen Krzmarzick, and it’s her job to help you through the process of picking out the perfect cookie — what shape, color, size or flavor you need for that party or event when you need to make a good impression. Krzmarzick’s shop is the Kitchen Vixen Cookie Shop. While technically new since Krzmarzick only recently opened her own consultation-based store run out of her home, the Kitchen Vixen has been making specialty and custom-ordered cookies for more than six years.
“That’s the really fun part of the process. They get to be the designer, and I just make it happen,” Krzmarzick said of helping people pick out the perfect cookie.
Originally from Canada, Krzmarzick lived and worked in South Korea for six years as an elementary English teacher. While there, she found other North American expats who missed home-cooked food. In her free time, friends asked her to make meals and out of that her reputation as a cook grew. As she was preparing meals and dinners for friends, she started getting requests for baked goods. Krzmarzick dove in to her pies and cakes, but it was the cookies that caught everyone’s attention with their intricate designs and perfect decorations. She also would make cookies for her classroom to decorate during holidays, and other teachers started asking her for cookies for their students.
“I was kind of the expat mother there who would bake for holidays and friends,” Krzmarzick said. “Moving to Fairbanks, anyone can get home cooking here. It’s not such a novelty. I figured what do I do well that I can offer the public, and that’s where the cookies came in.”
She and her husband, Mike, whom she met in South Korea and who was transferred to Fort Wainwright, arrived in Fairbanks on the winter solstice in 2013. Because Fort Wainwright has regulations about running a business out of your home, the Krzmarzicks set about finding a house that Jen could work out of with a home-based consultation business. While house hunting, she started setting up booths at bazaars and community events to get her name out, and it worked.
Krzmarzick made cookie gift baskets for the Breast Cancer Detection Center events, for the Make A Wish Foundation, for school bazaars and raffles. She set up at home shows, trade shows and community events and started making appointments online via www.KitchenVixenAlaska.com, the website her husband built and helps maintain.
In May, the Krzmarzicks hosted an open house at her cookie studio where guests sampled Jen’s wares and got a look at the custom cookie business. Inside the Kitchen Vixen Cookie Shop, customers find a display of equipment, cookie cutters, specialty cookies Jen has on display, and other items she is displaying for sale via a group of women called the Dynamic Divas, a group of about 40 businesswomen who network and share ideas about being women in business. Krzmarzick has included handmade items in her store that members of Dynamics Divas have created.
“I definitely like a challenge,” Krzmarzick said of running her own business. “Just recently, I had Alaska Airlines call me up and ask if I could make 10 dozen cookies in four days. That’s a big client, and I went for it.”
For now, Krzmarzick is taking orders and supplying clients with items such as wedding and baby shower cookies and specialty designs for private events. It’s a business that’s taking off and hopefully will branch out, she said.
“Owning your own business isn’t just 9 to 5,” Krzmarzick said. “It’s all hours. That’s the nature of a home business, and it’s a good trade off to do what you love.”
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.