Student’s cookie designs find sweet success in Carmel

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Carmel resident Paige Mangum discovered she loved cookie design when she was 9 years old while helping her grandmother decorate the sweet treats.

“I have always loved art in a variety of forms, whether it’s painting, illustrating, writing, making jewelry, but this artistic endeavor is a lot more tasty than drawing,” the Carmel resident said. “Growing up,  my, grandma, Jill Cooke, would always set out cookies for my cousins and I to decorate for fun over the holidays. My very first paying job was in June of 2021 for a bridal shower of a family friend looking to give me my first big break. She joked that I could hang up her picture when I opened my first bakery. I was positively ecstatic at the prospect of earning money for an activity that I was so passionate about.”

The Heritage Christian School senior officially started Too Cute To Eat cookies after her first paying job. She also is a Carmel Swim Club member and takes cookie decorating jobs as her busy schedule allows.

Mangum recently decorated cookies for Actors Theatre of Indiana’s Sept. 9 opening night party for “Nunsense.” The performances continue through Sept. 25 at the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Meg Osborne, who assists ATI with publicity, was Mangum’s swim coach at Heritage Christian when she was a freshman.

“The opportunity for the ‘Nunsense’ cookies was the first time I had created cookies for a business event, and I loved being able to support the local Carmel theater community,” Mangum said. “As a result of my social media post, I was flattered and humbled to receive an email from the creator of the ‘Nunsense’ musical, Dan Goggin, who wanted to connect and complimented me on my cookie design.”

Osborne has since retired as Heritage Christian coach. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other circumstances, Mangum did not compete for Heritage Christian the past two seasons. She is contemplating whether to swim this season if Heritage Christian can find a new coach, but she swims 13 hours a week for Carmel Swim Club.

“I wish I could take all the job opportunities that come my way, but it’s a balancing act between homework and swimming,” she said. “Everyone always tells me that I should spend less time on each cookie, but part of the fun for me is all the intricate details and making each cookie as beautiful as I can.”

Cooke, who lives near her granddaughter in Carmel, still creates the cookies from her dough recipes.

“I am so grateful to her, and it has been fun growing this business with her,” Mangum said.

To order cookies, customers usually message Mangum through social media, either on Instagram (@2cute2eat_cookies) or through her Facebook page under her name. Sometimes, she admits, she is just too busy to fill every request.

“My pesky schoolwork keeps getting in the way,” she said. “Right now, I am unsure about what this business will look like as I head into college. Probably a lot will depend on what school I choose to attend. But I want to keep cookie decorating as a part of my life in some form or another, whether it be a hobby or a full-fledged business endeavor. I will say it has become sort of an addiction. I learn something new with every cookie job I do, and when I don’t have a cookie decorating job I am thinking about new designs, techniques and how I can make my next job even better. It is such a wonderful creative outlet for me.”

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