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UW-La Crosse student from Hales Corners turns love of baking into a home-based business

Kaitlyn Kreutzer, a Hales Corners native and student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, runs her own home-based baking business called Kaitlyn’s Kitchen.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, but for one Hales Corners student, it turned out to be the first step in opening her own home-based business.

Kaitlyn Kreutzer is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The psychology major hopes to attend high school, study nursing and eventually enter the field of care coordination.

She is also the owner of her own home bakery, Kaitlyn’s Kitchen.

Kreutzer described COVID as a dark time in her life as she dealt with depression and her mental health. She called baking her way to escape from everything going on in the world and in her head.

“It was just a really good coping mechanism that I had, and it grew from there, like a passion,” she said. “I don’t necessarily use it as an escape route anymore. I get to make other things.” human day to do something I love.”

Grew up in Hales Corners

Kreutzer grew up as an only child and had a very close bond with her family. She was an athlete and was always surrounded by dogs.

She has a good relationship with her parents and grandparents, who have had a great influence on her baking skills.

“When I was little, I always baked with my grandma and my mom,” Kreutzer said, as he made brownies from box mix and chocolate chip cookies. “Those (cookies) were always from scratch, so I’ve always loved baking. And I have a really big sweet tooth in general.”

Due to her extracurricular activities, Kreutzer didn’t take baking as seriously in high school, but once the COVID-19 pandemic started, she felt more inspired to bake again.

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“My dad always asked me to make him oatmeal raisin or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and he loved the cookies I made,” she said.

“He then told one of the girls on my softball team and she said, ‘Can you make me oatmeal butterscotch?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’ And she says, ‘You should sell this.'”

So she did. After that, Kreutzer started baking more regularly. She would bake goods for her grandparents to try and they would encourage her or tell her what they didn’t like about them.

How Kaitlyn runs her home bakery

Kreutzer knew she wanted to take her business more seriously, despite not having a physical building for it.

She said she looked up Wisconsin food baking laws to see how she could run a legal business. The law states what you can and cannot sell from your home.

She then started baking goods for local family and friends and giving them free samples. Through word of mouth, people started asking her to bake goods for events, which she says has grown tremendously in recent years.

“I started posting on the Hales Corners Facebook page this past year, just out of the blue, and that has gotten me a lot of other local customers that aren’t just from family and friends, which is pretty cool.”

How Kreutzer gets the products she needs for baking

To save money, Kreutzer started buying the products she needed in bulk, many of them from Costco.

“It saves me a lot price-wise, but otherwise there are a lot of times when I have to go to Festival or Pick ‘n Save because I didn’t prepare and didn’t know I was going to run out of something.”

She said it can be difficult at times because she has to make multiple trips to the grocery store for just one item. Kreutzer says buying in bulk saves money.

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Running your own business comes with challenges, Kreutzer says

Owning a new business is a tough job, Kreutzer said.

“It’s difficult when you’re a new company and you’re doing all this from home,” she says. “So it’s not yet the case that you have a real store where you can do these kinds of things.”

She said being able to customize her baked goods is a goal on her list as a bakery owner because customer demands can often be pricey.

“I’ve had a few people ask me about gluten-free and vegan and vegetarian or vegan stuff, but I haven’t really escalated to that, just because those ingredients are a lot more expensive than regular ingredients, and (if so) just One customer , I don’t know if they’ll come back or not.”

To make up for this, Kreutzer will often do things like bring free samples to loyal customers or give discounts on baked goods. She also prides herself on being flexible to what customers want by making different types of pastries and not having a specific menu, and simply responding to customers in a timely manner.

How Kreutzer is spreading the word about Kaitlyn’s Kitchen

Kreutzer credits family and friends for helping spread the word about her pastries.

She said her high school softball coach was a big help in spreading the message.

“He knew the manager of the gym I went to, and he said, ‘You should talk to him about selling your pastries there.’ So I put out a flyer (at the gym) and my business cards and that really attracted customers.”

In addition to family and friends, Kreutzer uses social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to promote her business. She cites the Hales Corners Facebook page for helping her draw attention to her pastries. She also uses social media to gather customer feedback by looking at the posts they make.

Kreutzer is committed to baking with fresh ingredients and from scratch

Kreutzer believes that baked goods should always be made fresh. She opts for out-of-box mixes and always tries to buy her ingredients at local farmers markets, rather than regular supermarkets.

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“We get our eggs from a local egg man, he has a farm somewhere up north,” she said. “So that’s where we get our eggs from and we usually get our butter from there too.”

When things need to be purchased at a grocery store, Kreutzer says she prefers Costco as her number one store due to cost.

Kreutzer also said she doesn’t use canned goods for any of her products.

“It’s always from scratch,” she says. “I make the dry ingredients from scratch, I make my frosting, my fillings, everything is from scratch.”

Is a brick-and-mortar store in Kaitlyn’s Kitchen’s future?

When asked if she would ever plan to open a brick-and-mortar location for her business, Kreutzer said she’s not sure, but it’s always in the back of her mind.

“I worked at a bakery in La Crosse for about a year and a half, and after really seeing it on a larger level and seeing the stress that comes with having to produce in large quantities, I think it’s taken the quality down a bit.” down,” she said. “For example, this place decided they were going to stop making their chocolate and vanilla from scratch. They started bagging a mix because it was easier, and I just don’t believe in that.

“So I think I want to keep it on a smaller level, but still have a good clientele.”

When Kreutzer isn’t baking

When she’s not baking, Kreutzer is usually studying for class, enjoys traveling and has taken up running again.

She also likes to go out for ice cream often and prefers custards to cakes and cookies.

“I’d rather get custard than eat my pastry,” she said. “I’m actually more of an ice cream girl than a cake-and-cookies girl.”

Kreutzer also likes to support local businesses and believes that the quality of products from local companies is often better than those from regular companies.

As an example, she pointed to her cousin, who owns a candy store.

“It’s not like a big name brand but to support local and support those who are actually trying because that can be someone’s dream that you support and you may have to pay a little extra but you get much better quality for what… you pay.”

For more information about Kaitlyn’s Kitchen or how to place an order, visit the official Facebook page here.

Contact Adrienne Davis at amdavis@gannett.com. Follow her on X @AdriReportss.

This article originally appeared in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hales Corners student runs home bakery Kaitlyn’s Kitchen

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