By Amy Bickel The Hutchinson News, Kan.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) One day, entrepreneur Malynda Jarrett took a leave of absence from her job in human resources and never went back. Instead, she began following her dream -- one deeply rooted in childhood nostalgia. It culminated July 4 with the opening of "Aunt P's Sugartime Confections."
The Hutchinson News, Kan.
From her little sweet shop in downtown Hutchinson, Malynda Jarrett shares the story of how cookies changed her life.
"It's more of a testimony," she tells customers on this July afternoon -- three women who had just bought a few fresh-baked cookies to take home.
Jarrett was at a crossroads two years ago. A human resources professional for an organization with more than 900 employees in three states, her stress level was rising -- all at about the same time her father and several close family members were battling health issues.
One day, she took a leave of absence. She never went back.
"Someone asked me 'What do you want to do with your life?' " Jarrett said. "They said it isn't about the money -- what brings you joy? And I said a cookie. But I will never replace my income with a cookie. And they said life isn't about that. It's about what in your life brings you joy and peace."
Jarrett took the advice to heart and began following her dream -- one deeply rooted in childhood nostalgia. It culminated July 4 with the opening of Aunt P's Sugartime Confections, located at the corner of Main Street and Avenue A.
"Two years ago, I was challenged to do life different, do what I love and enjoy," she said. "And I love to make sugar cookies."
Finding her calling "The joke is I never made my kids a sugar cookie," said Jarrett.
Or at least, not from scratch, she said. She had been a working single mother until about seven years ago when she married Mack Jarrett.
But three years ago, when her daughter was married, Jarrett decided to make the 300 cookies her daughter wanted as gifts for her guests.
Jarrett loved it. In the businesses of life, she felt a calmness decorating cookies. It gave her a chance to be creative and reflect.
"It was a talent I didn't know I had," she said. "It was a complete untapped talent for many years. I just found something I'm good at. I always wondered what my raw talent was, and this is it."
Jarrett had taken a cake decorating class but taught herself the art of cookies and cupcakes. She found several good recipes and experimented with icing flavors.
Leaving her HR position, Jarrett turned part of their four-car garage into a bakery. For two years, she decorated cookies and other treats out of the space. However, as orders climbed, Jarrett realized she was outgrowing the garage. With the love and encouragement of her husband, Jarrett decided to take over the former Serendipity Cupcakes location. The owner had closed her storefront in March.
The idea for a sweet shop goes back to her childhood. She was raised by her father, and he would take her to a little ice cream shop in Branson, Missouri, during their vacations. Over the years, she took her own children there.
"I always thought 'If I could have something like that here in Hutchinson, that would be my center point of happiness,' " she said, adding that her store "has proved to be exactly what I thought it would be. It has been a real joy to be here every day."
Business bustling Just a month after opening, Sugartime Confections is bustling with activity. The smell of cookies baking wafted throughout the store. During a lull in customers, Jarrett finished putting a lemonade-flavored icing on her strawberry cupcakes she made that morning -- a customer favorite.
A variety of sweets fills the glass counter -- cake pops, cookies and cupcakes. She'll add seasonal treats, as well, such as candy apples and caramels in the fall.
Her specialty is cookies.
Traffic has been steady. Some come in for an afternoon snack. Others bring their families. She's also making special orders for birthdays, anniversaries and other events.
"This has blown me away," she said of the strong demand. "I had no expectation coming in, and this has just blown me away."
She is learning along the way, she said, adding her career change is more than just about cookies.
"It's about atmosphere. It's about fun," she said. "Making moments sweet is my catchphrase -- in the end, that is all we have."
That's what Hutchinson resident Jamie Wyatt was searching for on this day. She had seen the shop was open on Facebook and brought her three children: Elyse, 7; Emergy, 4; and Maddox, 2.
"I like the sugar," said Elyse, who had picked a container of cake-batter-flavored popcorn.
"She has a little bit of something for everybody," said Jamie. "We love the retro look. This is just a fun little place to come."
Jennifer Rueschhoff stopped for a variety of cookies and cupcakes for her family, including her daughter who was spending the week at Buhler High School's band camp. Her daughter noticed the store had opened and told Rueschhoff about it.
Jarrett said she has friends she hasn't seen in years stopping in. She finds herself encouraging others who have come in and heard her testimony.
"The past two years have been about surrendering," she said. "You surrender to listening to what your calling is, what you should be doing. Sometimes we don't like the timing."
God is providing, she said. He always has given just enough.
"In times I didn't think I'd have enough, I'd go deeper into prayer and the next day I'd have a cookie order," she said.
"I've found a perfect peace, and I'm fortunate to find that in my lifetime," she said. "I feel like I'm living out my true purpose."