Casey Cardona never imagined owning a bakery that ships out more than 1,000 cookies a week or being a finalist on Food Network’s "Christmas Cookie Challenge."

What would become CaseBakes Cookies started humbly from the desire to have some decorative sugar cookies for her son’s first birthday party, Cardona said. She saw some online, but said they were too expensive for her single-income family.

So she decided to make her own.

How it started

Cardona said she taught herself how to make her cookies using a couple of blogs on the internet. At her son’s birthday party, she introduced them. They “were not the best-looking cookies,” she said, but they were unique.

“Somebody at the party said, ‘Wow, those are amazing. Could you make some for a baby shower next week,’” Cardona said.

A guest at that baby shower asked her to make cookies for their upcoming event, and before she knew it, Cardona had orders from accounts as large as the Houston Texans and Coventry Homebuilders, she said.

These corporate-sized orders began to overpower her home, Cardona said, which prompted the need for a new space just for baking cookies.

“I never planned on having a lobby or staff or any of that,” she said. “It was just a bigger place for me to work with commercial machinery to make my job more efficient.”

CaseBakes Cookies was constructed using the proceeds earned from Cardona and her husband selling their home. The bakery opened in September 2018, specializing in decorated sugar cookies.
The lobby of CaseBakes Cookies is decorated with gingerbread men and miniature Santa figures holding baked treats. (Asia Armour/Community Impact)

Sorting out details

After her episode of the "Christmas Cookie Challenge" aired in late 2018, her office had to be converted into a lobby. Today, the open space has seating; a menu; and displays filled with cookies, cupcakes and brownies.

It's adorned with holiday decorations, including gingerbread men, a miniature Santa and a balloon arch that winds from behind the counter to the front door. Life-size Nutcrackers in pink uniforms designed and constructed by Cardona stand guard near the signage on the wall that spells out the name of the bakery.

Cardona has always had a crafty-side, she said. It just became more dominant when she had her kids. One of her hobbies is decorating Disney character-themed popcorn buckets. In one instance, she spent a month gluing rhinestones onto one modeled after Minnie Mouse.

“I just like seeing the finished product when it came from nothing and then seeing it completed—the fact that you did it with your hands and it's original, and it's unique,” Cardona said.

This meticulous attention to detail translates to her decorative cookies, she said.
Spicy gingerbread cookies are on display at CaseBakes this holiday season. (Asia Armour/Community Impact)

Frosted with speckles of flour, she crafts treats such as spicy gingerbread and puppy chow cookies, which are featured during the holiday season. For a Christmas, character-themed first birthday party order, Cardona added sanding sugar to cookie-shaped hats for texture.

“That's what sells it, is the attention to detail,” Cardona said. "It's the small things that tie in.”

What’s special about it?

While Cardona is introverted in nature, outside forces continue to push her talents to the forefront. And though it was never her goal to expand the business any further, she said she welcomes the possibility of what may happen next.

Cardona’s all-woman staff nominated her for a $5,000 small-business boost grant provided by Amegy Bank and the Houston Texans, which she won. She accepted the winnings on the field at NRG Stadium and will host a celebration on Dec. 12 for CaseBakes and the other three businesses.

“This has definitely been a growing year,” Cardona said. “It's funny because, believe it or not, I do not like being in the spotlight, and everyone's trying to pull me [into] that.”