We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebekah Paredes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebekah, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
A value that matters most to me would be integrity. I love how integrity incorporates so many different moral principles into one word. For me, these principles include honesty, kindness, service, leadership, respect of self and respect of others, and trust. As it is commonly said, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no-one is looking.” My father is an excellent example of someone with a strong moral compass and integrity. Growing up, I watched him lead and direct soldiers as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. I admired his leadership abilities as an executive for a large insurance company. In both roles, he was honest and fair in all of his dealings. He achieved great success in both careers yet always showed humility. Through his example, I developed a great desire to live my life with all of these attributes.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the proud owner of a home bakery called The Cookie Curator, LLC. In December 2015, I wanted a hobby—something I could call my own. At that time, I was a mom of two little ones under the age of 5 and a Senior Project Manager for a clinical research organization. My office was located in Salt Lake City, UT, and I would work from home and occasionally commute to Utah. I was also supporting my husband, who was in his last year of residency and completing an MBA. Life was a smidge busy, to put it lightly.
Yet, I had this innate desire to learn and create something new. It was then that I decided I was going to learn how to make decorated sugar cookies. I started watching YouTube videos, scrolled through cookie blogs, and poured through recipe books. I practiced, practiced, and then practiced more. My kitchen was covered in flour, and there was always icing in my hair. So many of those early attempts ended up in the trash can, but I never gave up. I never considered myself an artist, and I welcomed the challenge of trying something new.
My very first decorated cookies were a penguin and a polar bear. To this day, they are my favorite cookies I’ve ever designed. My cookie journey started that quiet winter evening, and it has been quite the adventure since. Today, I’m a stay-at-home mama with a successful home bakery in Orange County.
My bakery specializes in custom decorated sugar cookies for all occasions. I creatively design cookies for weddings, birthdays, christenings, corporate events, holidays, etc. I also host cookie decorating classes in my cookie studio. In these public and private classes, I teach the art of cookie decorating. My two-hour hands-on classes focus on the various consistencies of royal icing, flooding, piping, decorating techniques, airbrushing, stenciling, and much more.
My business journey is a little different than most. I started decorating cookies as a hobby. I never imagined that something that started as a hobby could quickly be turned into a passion and then developed into a business. One important thing I’ve learned over the past 5 years is the ability to adapt. The seasons where I experienced the most business growth were when I would take a leap of faith, loosen my control, and give my business the freedom to move forward in unexpected ways.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I absolutely love exploring Orange County. There are so many fun places to visit and delicious places to eat. I also love being outdoors. In the mornings, we would explore different hiking trails in Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach. My favorites are Car Wreck, Mathis, and Top of the World trails. During the day, we would relax at Strands Beach, go whale watching at Dana Point, or rent bikes at Balboa Island.
But most importantly, we would eat! We would stop at my favorite Irish pub, Muldoon’s, in Newport Beach for stew and a slice of apple pie. Grab donuts from Sidecar in Costa Mesa or chai lattes at Seven Seas in Aliso Viejo. One of my favorite places to eat is a family-owned Italian restaurant called Mama D’s, which serves the best pink sauce.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am incredibly grateful for my family, friends, and fellow “cookiers” that have helped me in my bakery adventures and my business’s overall success. I could not have made it without their guidance, support, encouragement, and faith in me. Mainly, I would like to recognize one person: my very best friend and husband, Kyle Paredes. One winter evening, I decided I needed a hobby—a creative outlet and something I could call my own. I saw a video of someone decorating a sugar cookie, and I said, “That! I’m going to learn how to do that!” Kyle was out of the country on business, and I sent him a text at 2 AM about my new hobby desire. His response, “Ok!” From that point on, he has been my main motivator, cheerleader, and advocate. He is the first person I call to celebrate a success and the shoulder I cry on when I’m frustrated or feel defeated. Kyle is an anesthesiologist, yet after working long hours at the hospital, he will come home to help me bake or package cookies. He even assists me with most of my cookie decorating classes. I am truly blessed to have Kyle by my side as I navigate these uncharted waters of owning a home bakery.
Photo credit to Melissa Thomson, Missy Shots Photography