A passion for baking has turned into a side hustle for Bradford teacher Nicole Nugara with her cookie business, Blue Rose Bakery.
Nugara informally started her bakery biz a few years ago when she was in university, but officially opened just over a year ago after moving to Bradford from Thornhill with her husband.
She and her husband got married in 2020 and decided to make Bradford their permanent home after having visited family in the area on multiple occasions, and falling in love with its small-town feel.
"It was an easy choice really, that we just naturally kind of found ourselves here," she said.
While Nugara loves to bake, it isn't her full-time gig. She works as an English teacher in York Region but enjoys spending her evenings and weekends in the kitchen, creating scrumptious cookies for family, friends and clients.
"I love to bake and I love cookies, it's something I do to make myself happy and others happy," she said.
Nugara has been baking for as long as she can remember, with influences growing up including her mother, who enjoyed baking in the home regularly, and cousins who attended pastry school.
"It's something I've always been around and have always been doing it," she said. "It's always been my happy place. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I get in the kitchen and I bake, it really helps me stay in the moment. More than that, I really like baking for other people... that's my love language and how I show people how I care."
The name of her business, Blue Rose is a reference to the play 'The Glass Menagerie' by Tennessee Williams. In the story, a character's nickname is 'Blue Roses', for her uniqueness and beauty in the world.
"And that's what I think my cookies represent," she said.
Blue Rose Bakery specializes in cookies exclusively. Nugara said she did try her hand at cake making once, but it was a lot to handle.
"God bless all the people doing cakes, it just was not my thing," she laughed.
Instead, Nugara focuses on her cookies, her favourite dessert, that she truly enjoys making.
When asked what makes her business stand out from the competition, Nugara said her products speak for themselves.
"I've worked so hard on it...and I have made what I think has the best of everything...it's a substantial cookie, it's thick, it's chewy on the inside, its got that crisp exterior," she said. "Once you get a cookie in your hands, you know what will make it stand out."
Bluerose Bakery offers a standard BFF menu year-round, which stands for 'Best Flavours Forever'.
"These are your classic cookies, the ones that you find in your mom's kitchen, the classic comfort food cookies," she explained. Flavours include classic chip, oatmeal chip, peanut butter chip, and triple chocolate.
The bakery also offers a rotating menu throughout the year, with two or three feature flavours every season.
Some of the recent flavours offered at Christmas time included gingerbread, tie-dye sugar cookie, and spiked chocolate orange.
Their Valentine's Day menu will feature red velvet, pink, white and red, and a chocolate merlot.
Most of Nugara's clients come from within the Bradford and York Region area. Her husband works from home, and will often help out with her deliveries on his lunch break.
"He really has saved me a couple of times when people have those last-minute orders," she said. "I am grateful to have the help because I am quite busy with my day job."
She says opening her bakery during a pandemic has been beneficial for her business since it is delivery-based.
"People aren't leaving their house as much to go get their desserts," she said, noting her contactless delivery of dropping treats off right at the door.
She hopes once the pandemic settles down, she will be able to interact with her customers a bit more.
"We've been moving to a contactless approach, which doesn't leave a lot of time for me to get to meet people that support my business, but hopefully soon I will get a chance to do that again," she said.
To learn more about the bakery, visit their website here.