500 gingerbread: Trumbull home-based business delivers for Amazon employees

TRUMBULL — When people need anything delivered, they often shop mega business Amazon.com. But when the online retail giant needed a special holiday delivery, it turned to a one-woman Trumbull business.

Emily DeCruze, 31, owner of Emily’s Baking Company, a home-based startup that has been been open about a year, said she was surprised when the company reached out to her in early October.

“They ordered 300 gingerbread cookies to give to their employees as a holiday gift,” DeCruze said. “Then a few weeks later, they called back and added 200 more to their order.”

For a one-person operation, the $2,500 order was the largest she had ever received, DeCruze said.

“It took over my entire house. There was gingerbread all over the counters and table,” she said. “I spent the weekend baking, staying up in the kitchen until 3 a.m. By the end, I developed a pretty good system and was turning them out 100 at a time.”

Amazon spokeswoman Andrea Seitz-Fortin said supporting local small business was part of the company’s corporate philosophy.

“Customer obsession is at the heart of everything we do at Amazon,” she said. “We believe our neighbors are our customers and we want to ensure Amazon has a positive impact on the communities in which we operate.”

DeCruze, a Utica, N.Y., native, said she has been baking for most of her life.

“I’ve always loved baking,” she said. “I was always watching my mother bake, and I wondered, ‘Why did she do it that way?’ and ‘Why do you add this ingredient at this time?’”

Her interest, and her skills, developed further her senior year in high school when she signed up for a culinary program run through the county Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“It was a technical program where you spend half the school day learning a trade,” she said. “So I was taking culinary classes every day, preparing to attend culinary school.”

After attending community college, DeCruze spent a year in the baking program at Alfred State College, which is part of the State University of New York system, before moving to Trumbull in 2014. After spending time as a stay-at-home mother to her young daughter, DeCruze rediscovered her passion for baking, she said.

“I was always baking something for someone,” she said. “But a couple years ago, someone asked me to create some decorative sugar cookies, and that was the beginning” of Emily’s Baking Company.

DeCruze ended up baking hundreds of cookies, often watching online videos to learn new decorative techniques, and posting the results on social media.

“I didn’t want to do anything else,” shes said.

DeCruze got a Cottage Food Operator license from the state, which permits home preparation of foods deemed to be at low-risk of food-related illness. The license requires applicants to complete a food safety training program and submit samples of their water for lab testing to ensure safety.

Cottage food operators may not sell their products in restaurants or retail stores, and are limited to $25,000 in annual sales.

In 2019, she launched her business, which has been growing steadily ever since.

“There’s always something in the oven,” she said.

Residents will get a chance to try DeCruze’s creations for themselves Dec. 19, when she hosts a holiday pop-up shop at 52 Ascolese Road starting at 9 a.m. The holiday and winter-themed cookies, including Hanukkah cookies, sell for between $3 and $5.

The ultimate reward, though, is the feeling of baking up a little happiness in town, she said.

“For me, that goes hand-in-hand with being a small business in the community,” she said. “It’s amazing to me that 500 people enjoyed something that I made in my own kitchen.”