Sweet Success: FSHN alum turns passion into full-time cookie business

Alyssa Deolitsis holding custom cookie
Alyssa Deolitsis

In honor of National Cookie Day, Alyssa Deolitsis reflects on kickstarting her own business with help from her degree. Deolitsis’ path to transforming her custom design cookie business, Deolicious Cookies, into a full-time pursuit has been years in the making since graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2014 with a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition, part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

Extremely customized cookies

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Alyssa’s passion for baking developed during her childhood. Her knack for creativity was channeled through baking with her mother and grandmother, which are some of her fondest memories. Her mother’s sugar cookie recipe would become the cornerstone of her business.

This creative flair persisted through her college years, where hands-on labs and experiential learning continued to fuel her passion.

Post-graduation, Alyssa began to work in sales and advertising for prominent companies including Southern Wine and Spirits and the Chicago Tribune. At the same time, she started Deolicious Cookies as a hobby, initially producing cookies for family and friends.

As demand for her cookies continued to grow, Alyssa carefully evaluated the business. During the spring of 2022, she made the major decision to leave her corporate job and focus all of her attention on Deolicious Cookies.

Alyssa describes transitioning from a corporate job to a self-owned business: “I quit my nine-to-five and now I work 24/7. Some days stretch from eight in the morning to four the next morning.”

Starting a business is no easy task. One of the first steps for Alyssa was to register as a Cottage Food Operator with the Illinois Public Department of Health, which allows her to sell baked goods made in her home kitchen.

Alyssa juggles all aspects of her business herself, ranging from inquiries and social media management to website design, administration, accounting, and the entire cookie production process. She acknowledges the blessings of being able to rely on herself, as well as the  challenges of maintaining a work-life balance.

The cookie designs of Deolicious Cookies have evolved over time to highly customizable and personalized themes for baby showers, bridal events, birthdays, and more. Some reputable names Alyssa has made cookies for include Hozier, Don Julio Tequila, the Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, the Chicago Blackhawks, Five Seconds of Summer and Liz Phair.

Extremely customized cookies

Averaging 200 to 300 cookies per week, her business is set to yield thousands of cookies this year. Special experiences sprinkled in include delivering cookies to breathtaking venues like the Aragon Ballroom and Northerly Island — and soon, her alma mater at the College of ACES.

Alyssa’s work is nothing short of amazing, but very time consuming. “For an extremely detailed cookie, it can take up to two hours to decorate one cookie, not including baking or packaging,” she says.

A highly rewarding aspect of this profession for Alyssa is being able to be a part of people’s special events. Staying connected with clients is very important to her; for example, she will make cookies for a baby announcement, and the same client will return for cookies for the gender reveal, baby shower and birthdays.

Reflecting on her college education, Alyssa credits the College of ACES with teaching her valuable skills in the science of baking, restaurant management, budgeting, inventory, and sanitation that she now applies in her business.

In addition, she met a lot of great people, who helped propel her success.

“A huge reason my business grew so fast is because of my friends who I met at the University of Illinois,” says Alyssa. “They told their friends and their friends' friends about my cookies and are some of my biggest fans.”

Alyssa advises future students: “Don’t feel pressure to have everything figured out on graduation day. Nothing is permanent and there is always an opportunity to change.”

Alyssa will be sharing her story and cookies with ACES students on Reading Day at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, in the atrium of the ACES Library. Stop by to meet Alyssa and enjoy a sweet treat! Check out her other work on Instagram @deoliciouscookies. 

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