ESTEVAN - Urban Icing Gluten Free and Alternative Bakery was started as an experiment and grew into a full-time, promising home-based business.
Estevan's Colesey Goetz said with the pandemic making life more difficult, she wanted to try making some extra cash around last Christmas, but her alternative deserts were so popular that she just kept going.
"It began because of the pandemic. I wanted some extra income at Christmas time last year. So I started this at the beginning of November. On November 12 this year, we celebrated one year in business," Goetz shared in the interview with the Mercury.
Ever since she was a young girl, she had a sweet tooth and dreamed of owning her own bakery. But it was not until her life took a serious twist that she started exploring alternative recipes, which later turned into a business.
Goetz was diagnosed with Hashimoto's autoimmune disease when she was about 16 years old. It is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid that is part of the endocrine system, which produces hormones that co-ordinate many of the body's functions. Hashimoto's disease can mostly be managed through diet and lifestyle changes, so Goetz had to readjust.
"We caught it early enough to reverse it. But it does demand a lot of lifestyle change from you and to remain strict on those changes," Goetz said.
"That meant I no longer could satisfy my always sweet tooth. I have always found gluten-free foods to be dry, stale, tasteless or packed full of sugar. I knew something had to change, I could not just stop eating all of the savoury foods. I then began to experiment and create my own tasteful gluten-free recipes," Goetz recalled.
And last winter this personal journey expanded into a bigger project, aimed at making life sweeter for others who rely on alternative treats.
While some of the recipes she picked and readjusted from her grandmother, the business also motivated her to keep growing as a gluten-free pastry chef, developing her own recipes. She also started exploring other alternative baking options.
"I definitely have grown a lot since having the business. And I have even added in more alternative things. I'm beginning to learn vegan baking and more refined sugar-free baking on top of it," Goetz said. "Quite a few recipes I did come in with already and I was aware of certain changes that you need to be ready for. And I also added a lot of new recipes just because I wanted other flavours."
She likes to play around with her favourite flavour palettes and edit recipes to get them to perfection. However, she said sometimes she does look up recipes for some new ideas she wants to bring in, and through experiments, develops them to her satisfaction.
"I take pride in my work and truly believe that it tastes like the real deal. Whether you eat gluten-free or not, all are welcome to come and enjoy my creations," Goetz said.
She started off making cookies and cupcakes, which are also her favourite sweets. But she also offers gluten-free perogies, and she recently introduced gluten-free cinnamon buns.
"I'm very proud of that recipe and I have hopes to bring on more bread-like products, like buns and bread. Somebody asked me about croissants, which I would love to do but that we're working on," Goetz said.
She also does custom cakes, cake pops and other treats.
Goetz, who is only 20 years old, said she is still learning about being a business owner. She did all the required certification, and now sells her product through her website, social media platforms and also does pop-up stores at different places in Estevan.
She said being an entrepreneur feels great, especially when working in her hometown.
"It's very nice and empowering. Especially in the Estevan community. I'm so happy to be back home and I'm always so amazed by how much our community is connected here and really wants to help each other out," Goetz said, adding that several businesses reached out to her, offering to partner.
"It's a beautiful community down here and it makes me feel supported."
One day Goetz hopes to grow her operation, make it known country-wide and have a storefront bakery in downtown Estevan, but for now, the home-based format is something that she found was working well for her.
"I would love to go visit Dragon's Den and … maybe shoot for the stars and see where it lands," Goetz said with a laugh.
"But I definitely would love to get a shop up in Estevan downtown. We're a bit away from that, but that would be super cool in the future just to actually have a storefront and a bakery."
The Urban Icing menu can be found at urbanicing.ca. Goetz is taking orders for Christmas, and she also plans on having some post-holiday treats such as power balls and more in January.