Jessica Brainsky '10

Jessica Brainsky decorating cookies

Tell us about your business.

I own a cookie decorating business called Hartwork Cookie Co. I create edible cookie art from the heart (hence "H-Artwork"), and make custom cookies for all kinds of events (weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, graduations, “just because” orders, etc.)! I recently started teaching online classes, and I am working on my own line of cookie cutters and recipes. I also host monthly group cookie decorating classes (like paint night, except you get to eat your edible art), private parties, and 1:1 classes.

Someone recently said to me, "You're helping people tap into their inner child through these cookie classes." That meant so much to hear this because I am so passionate about this craft. Sharing it with students and helping them unlock unknown passions in themselves is a gift. I've had several students start their own cookie-decorating businesses after taking a class with me, which is such an honor!

Why did you choose to open your business and why this specific type of industry?

I chose to open a cookie decorating business organically. A few years ago, a friend invited me to decorate Christmas cookies with him and his family. I had never decorated cookies in my life! I didn’t even have any sincere interest in going, I just figured, "why not?" I am SO glad I went! My first attempt was with a candy cane-shaped cookie, and I accidentally smudged the stripes. I realized that the smudge actually looked really interesting! I became fascinated by how you can intentionally manipulate icing to create different designs. Honestly, it was love at first pipe, and I was hooked immediately! My favorite part of this story is that a “mistake” ended up sparking a passion in me I never even knew existed. Through this experience, I ended up throwing myself into cookie decorating. I could not stop!

I started bringing cookies to work for my coworkers. To my surprise, people started ordering from me! This was about 4 years ago. Since then, the business has just exploded, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to gift people with little pieces of custom-made, edible art.

Jessica Brainsky's beach themed cookies

How did your time at UHart impact your knowledge and decision around opening your business?

I remember seeing fellow students in the Barney School of Business and being inspired by their entrepreneurial spirit and how hard they worked in their classes. Even though I did not pursue a business degree at UHart, I know the initial intrigue was definitely sparked on campus!

What made you decide to go all in on your business?

Come July 2023, I am leaving the career I have been in since 2011 to make Hartwork Cookie Co. a full-time business!

I have balanced both a career in education and my cookie business for 3 solid years, and the cookie business has grown to the point where I can no longer do both. I eat, sleep, dream, and breathe cookies. They’re literally on my mind 24/7. But, I also love teaching! I am at a point in life where a big decision has to be made. Teaching cookie decorating classes made me realize I don't have to choose between teaching and cookies—I can incorporate my love for both into Hartwork! Getting to be creative and share my joy with others through cookies full-time is truly a dream come true!

Jessica Brainsky's graduation themed cookies

Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs?

Making Hartwork Cookie Co. a full-time business distracted me to the point where I had to consciously tell myself to stop thinking about cookies in order to fall asleep! If you can relate in any way, shape, or form to a passion of your own, find a way to go all in! If you are anything like me, the desire will only get stronger! The main reason I did not go full-time sooner was fear. But, not doing something you really love simply out of fear is not a way to live. With all of the opportunities available through social media and digital marketing, there is a niche market for anything and everything.

If you were to tell me five years ago I would be leaving behind an entire career to open up a cookie decorating business, I would have never believed it. But I am proof that if you are passionate about something, you can be successful at it! It is never too late to try. I know my experience in education will continue to benefit my business.

Jessica Brainsky's autumnal cookies

It is okay if your path ends up being a little unconventional. You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now, and you were exactly where you were supposed to be when you decided to choose the career path you once did. We are always growing. It is okay to make changes—change is good!


We want to hear from you! If you have a story to share, or want to share a fellow alum's story, let us know!