I can’t get enough of them.
And I don’t wait for birthdays or special occasions to send cards or other uplifting bits and pieces to friends or family members in need of a pick me up.
I do it on the spot and am always looking for new ways to surprise people.
So imagine my delight when this week, as part of the day job, I interviewed east London baker Emily Garland and discovered she’d launched a range of fortune cookies filled with positive messages including ‘mate, you’re great’, ‘you’re not alone’ and ‘words don’t help but cookies do’.
The Maid of Gingerbread founder loved the idea of giving people a “mini buzz” with her playful pockets of edible fun and decided to create four collections.
Credit: Ben Broomfield
Emily, who is known for creating giant showstopping 3D gingerbread creations, began baking after health reasons forced her to quit her admin job but she’s since turned her hobby into a successful business.
“The main drive behind my baking has always been making people smile, and encouraging people to have fun and interact with food,” she says.
The fortune cookies are an extension of that and there are four boxes to choose from each containing at least eight positive messages. These are:
Thinking of you – Phrases include: ‘lots of love from me to you’, ‘hang in there’, ‘word’s don’t always help but cookies do’, and ‘you’re not alone’.
Encouragement – Phrases include: ‘you’re smashing it’, ‘not long now!’, ‘mate, you’re great’, and ‘sending good vibes (and cookies)’.
Congratulations – Phrases include: ‘over the moon’, ‘winning at life’, ‘you’re the bee’s knees’, and ‘cracking job’.
You’re the Best – Phrases include: ‘You’re a good egg’, and ‘keep doing you’, to ‘a whole lot of lovely’, and ‘you’re my favourite’.
The 36-year-old also whips up bespoke fortune favours for both corporate events and weddings.
Below Emily shares her journey with Relax Ya Self To Health and explains why she’s put the fun back into fortune.
WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BAKERY BUSINESS?
Ten years ago but I’ve only been full time for two.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO TURN YOUR PASSION PROJECT INTO A BUSINESS?
I baked for friends and family all through my teenage years and then at university. I always loved the fact that so much joy can be created from something so seemingly simple. Years later I had to leave my admin job due to health reasons – I developed RSI in my wrists so could no longer type – and I needed to find something that would enable me to take breaks when needed and had a variety of different tasks so I could switch when I was in pain.
Baking was the obvious solution. Although my condition will always be there, I’ve learnt to manage it and have built up my strength again to a point where it very rarely affects me day-to-day. So aside from my passion for baking and creating with food, I have an additional motivation behind my business as it enables me to work in a way that helps rather than hinders my health.
Credit: Will Patrick
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BAKING?
As long as I can remember really. I grew up in a household where baking from scratch was just considered the norm, so I was surrounded with excellent home cooking and just always joined in with pies, cakes and biscuits. My mum and both my grandmothers were fantastic bakers so I consider myself very lucky.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR FORTUNE FAVOURS?
It all stems from a slightly bizarre request. I was asked to make fortune cookies in the shape of vulvas for an advert last year (for Libresse/Bodyform). My reputation for unusual gingerbread building means I’m often asked for quite out-of-the-ordinary baking related commissions. I had to practice with lots of different recipes and techniques for making them and through that I found I really enjoyed the process and came up with a really tasty recipe partly inspired by the super positive message of that ad. I then just started making them for fun and putting my own messages inside them. Watching people break into them and smiling at the contents made me so happy I thought I should try and spread the positivity by having them available as a product!
THERE ARE LOTS OF POSITIVE MESSAGES TO CHOOSE FROM – WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU?
Emily Coxhead at The Happy Newspaper. Her mission to share positive stories and celebrate the good things in the world is a massive inspiration for me. And Ellie Kime of The Enthusiast, who encourages people to pursue their enthusiasm and want people to know that caring is cool.
I think it’s so important and pertinent in the current climate, and spreading positivity doesn’t need to be through big gestures. Even a tiny little cookie can bring a big smile to someone who’s having a tough time.
HOW DOES BAKING MAKE YOU FEEL?
Generally, I relax when I’m in the kitchen. I have to admit there are some stressful times during the Christmas crazy period – this is more to do with juggling business stuff than the actual baking though! It’s always been a great creative outlet for me; when I’m in the zone, baking makes me feel simultaneously relaxed, excited and highly focused. It brings me so much joy when I hear back from my clients.
Emily’s collections start from £22. For more information visit Maid of Gingerbread
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