Julia Cardoshinsky needed to find something to deflect the sorrow and grief she felt in the wake of her father’s death. She needed something to make her smile. She needed something sweet.
Her youngest son loved it when she would make sugar cookies and then decorate them. So, she decided to bake.
Julia Cardoshinsky with one of her giant decorated cookies.
“For every Christmas Eve, we’d bake after we finished making tamales,” Cardoshinsky said. “So, I decided to bake. I posted it on Facebook and everybody loved it.”
Now, Julia Cardoshinsky and her husband, Vince, own Cardoshinsky Confectioners, 204 Cully Street. It's a work in progress, but it's their work.
For 23 years, Julia Cardoshinsky worked in various roles at James Avery Artisan Jewelers — ultimately working as a production inventory assistant who oversaw the precious stones. She started on a bench, crafting jewelry pieces, and then worked her way up. The years at James Avery taught her about craftsmanship, manufacturing and controlling her inventory.
At James Avery, her colleagues got a taste of some of her desserts, often encouraging, she said, to make more or to make something for them. At the time of her father’s death, she was also newly married, and after the therapeutic baking session, she told her husband about an idea to bake cookies as a side hustle.
She baked on-demand for those friends and colleagues for a year, but then she got a mega order for 500 cookies as a gift to Peterson Health from Calvary Temple Church. That’s when she knew this was going to be a full-time job.
“This wasn’t a dream,” Cardoshinsky said. “This was a vision.”
The vision, however, came through practice and the refinement of a recipe. Cardoshinsky watched countless videos of decorating techniques, but she had one primary goal.
“I strive for a delicious tasting product,” Cardoshinsky said.
For Cardoshinsky, a cookie can’t just be spectacularly decorated but has to be tasty.
It’s a sugar cookie perfected through trial and error. Initially, she started with the pre-made dough but she’s refined her process. That refinement took place incrementally, an attribute Julia Cardoshinsky said was key in her and her husband, Vince, business development plans.
“We took such small steps,” she said. “We didn’t jump from this is what I want to do one day to this is what I’m going to do.”
At the end of 2019, the Cardoshinskys decided they needed a commercial baking space, and started looking for a site. They decided that a storefront on Cully Drive, across the street from the River Hills Mall, was their best fit.
“We decided to take that step in faith that we needed a location,” Julia Cardoshinsky said. “We decided on this location and we signed the lease on Jan. 1 of 2020.”
Three months later, the coronavirus pandemic swept the world three months later, closing down her business, but not for long.
The biggest takeaway from her 23 years at James Avery was in building a process, and not being afraid to make process improvements when needed.
“You have to be able to review your process,” she said. “You have to make changes where they’re needed, whether its because you have a new technique or tools.”
Those lessons have helped her business navigate the pandemic, and now her company is growing. Even COVID-19 hasn’t slowed the Cardoshinskys down. Calvary Temple then reached out again to order cookies for Peterson Regional Medical Center, fire departments and other public safety workers.
“That was another big boost in people to getting to know us,” she said.
The hardest thing she faces?
“Saying no,” she admitted. “Saying no because we love to give and serve. More than anything it’s about serving. It’s not so much about the material giving, but your time. We put our time into it and we love to serve. You get that phone call and it’s ‘oh my gosh, I need this tomorrow.’ My heart does go out. That has been the hardest part.”
Of course, in the end the hardest part for those who taste one of her cookies is saying no to a second bite. The cookie appears to be crumbling the right way for Julia Cardoshinky, her family and her small business.