Baker and Business Owner Shares Her Recipe for Success

Baker and Business Owner Shares Her Recipe for Success

Meet Tracy Mattson

Credit: Courtesy of Tracy Mattson/Cookie Take a Bite.

Baking is a craft that merges creativity and science, and few experiences compare to the first bite of a just-baked cookie. We spoke with Tracy Mattson, the founder of Cookie Take a Bite in Santa Rosa, Calif., about her culinary journey. Tracy didn’t always work in the field. In fact, she started her career in environmental regulations before learning how to bake. The creative entrepreneur shares how she pivoted to baking and launched her own bakery in her interview.

When did you take up professional baking?

I started taking classes at night while working in Washington D.C. in the environmental regulatory field. I found the joy in baking with these classes! It was a great way to find creative release.

When did you realize that you could start a business?

After switching careers and going to pastry school, I worked in restaurants first. I tell folks looking to get in this field to work for someone else first and “learn on their dime.” It is invaluable work experience, and you will learn how you will want to run your own business either by their good example or by learning what not to do. After working in restaurants for 15 years, I started selling cookies at farmers’ markets which was a fabulous way to test recipes and gauge consumer support for my product. I have definitely been on the tortoise path in the race to business success!

Credit: Courtesy of Tracy Mattson/Cookie Take a Bite.

How do you define success for your business?

That is a very critical question these days. One measure is getting big and selling your business, but I don’t think that is necessarily a fulfilling measure of success. I define success by being able to pay fair wages, support my community with donations and internship programs and spread a little joy to our customers! 

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

From nature and other bakers. Sometimes I need to literally step outside the bakery and enjoy a little outside time to get recharged and inspired for the next project.

What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started your business?

Have an end game. It doesn’t mean you want to sell but know where you want to take your business and what you want it to do for you, whether it is a financial benchmark or a growth goal. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start selling their art or creative product?

Start with farmers’ markets or local markets, as they are fantastic ways to start without being saddled with too much overhead. They are a great incubator, and you get immediate feedback! 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I never baked as a kid. I didn’t start taking baking classes until I was a professional in my 30s. It was my secret creative release!

Credit: Courtesy of Tracy Mattson/Cookie Take a Bite.

As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?

I don’t. I change the question. I look to create something that works within the framework of really good. In baking, perfectionism can lead to financial crisis. 

What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?

How much of it isn’t creative. I spend more time creating invoices, building the business and paying bills to keep my creative business in business. 

What’s your advice for handling the highs and lows of running a business?

Play the long game. First, we are not heart surgeons; put the crisis in perspective and take a breath. I strongly believe it is how you solve the problem that makes the difference. Also, plan for the worst financially and always keep a cushion in a savings account. 

Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?

Of course. Smile and wave and hope you can win them back eventually. 

What’s a cause you are passionate about?

I love bringing kids in to learn the business and become good citizens. We love working with the California Department of Rehabilitation to create a safe and educational space for kids with special needs to get work experience and thrive. 

Can you share the name of a supplier or vendor that you use for your business that you just loveone that makes running your business a bit easier? 

Straus Organic Creamery makes the best butter and helps make our cookies delicious. Plus, they are the best people to work with! 

What brings you joy?

Bringing a smile to a customer who has had a bad day with a freshly baked cookie. If we could solve all of the world’s problems this waywith a cookiewe would be in a better place:) 

Thanks, Tracy Mattson! You can learn more about her bakery at

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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