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Ask Andrea Essenpreis how she got started in business and she’ll tell you it all began when she had a baby just over nine years ago.
“I had a corporate job, sitting at a desk in a nice office,” Essenpreis said. “After I had my first child, I quit my day job to be at home with him. I soon found myself baking…a lot. I had always been a hobbyist baker, but it was like I had a need or compulsion. I had to bake “all the time.”
So Essenpreis would bake and invite friends over to enjoy her wares and she soon thought that she could add to the family budget by filling some orders for baked goods or even running a small catering business.
“The intention was just to make a few extra bucks,” Essenpreis said.
For several years, the fledgling baker created, tested and compiled her own recipes. In 2007, shortly after the birth of her second child, she began selling baked items at the La Grange Farmer’s Market and soon garnered a following. With a three-year-old and two-month-old to take care of, Essenpreis said she wasn’t really prepared for what happened next.
“An opportunity came my way to purchase a large space and a list of wholesale clients from an acquaintance at the Market,” Essenpreis said. “I didn’t think it was a good time to start a business.”
But her husband and parents were very supportive and encouraged her to move forward. With seed money loaned by her parents, Essenpreis purchased the space, effectively moving her baking enterprise out of her home kitchen and into a warehouse-size facility.
“Once I had the space and freedom to take off, I really did,” Essenpreis said. “It was right before Christmas and I worked around the clock. I can remember icing cookies all night long. I stopped long enough to run home and feed the baby, then I’d drive back and get back to work.”
Essenpreis sold to several large wholesale accounts and continued to sell at the Farmers Market. Soon, a friend and neighbor suggested a possible bakery location for her to open a retail shop. In 2011, Q & A Sweet Treats opened at 211 S. First Street in La Grange.
The bakery specializes in gourmet cookies, hand-decorated sugar cookies, breads, a variety of bars, brownies, scones, muffins and cupcakes and custom cakes and local favorite whoopie pies. Of late, Essenpreis has found her niche in creating custom cakes. While some of the shop’s menu items are available daily, other items vary, as everything is made from scratch and baked daily.
“We’ll always be about a small batch product,” Essenpreis said. “I want every cake that leaves my shop to be as good as that first cake I pulled out of my oven at home. I don’t want to put out a good product, I want it to be a great product.”
It is that drive and focus that played a role in earning Essenpreis the honor of being named the Tony Cotten Woman of Distinction at the recent Celebration of Women hosted by the Oldham County Chamber & Economic Development. The award, named after the late Tony Cotten, former publisher of The Oldham Era, seeks to recognize a businesswoman in the county that “articulates a commitment to community, a spirit of entrepreneurship and a loyalty to family.” Essenpreis received the award at a brunch on Friday at the Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen.
“I am so proud and honored, especially since it’s named after Tony,” Essenpreis said. “He was so special to me.”
Essenpreis would not take full credit for the award, noting that without the support of her husband and parents, none of her accomplishments would be possible. She also pointed to her staff as being instrumental in the success of her business.
“I have a really great, supportive group around me. We all care so much about what we do here,” Essenpreis said. “I want people to love my product and really believe that what we do is special and unique so they’ll support it.”
Q & A Sweet Treats is located at 211 South First Street, La Grange, and is open Tuesday through Saturday. Orders are recommended for large quantity or specialty items. Call (502) 265-0550 for more information, or visit qasweettreats.com. The shop will be closed Oct. 19-28 to allow for family vacations over OCS’s fall break.