Mother opens new bakery

Who would have thought that baking cookies for your friends could turn into a successful business? Rebecca Wanosik knows all about it.

Rebecca recently opened a bakery after her at-home business blew up in popularity. Rebecca owns CookieZ by Nourish & Nurse, a bakery next to the Daily Guide on the Roubidoux Plaza in downtown Waynesville.

Rebecca's children helped Rebecca with the name of the shop. All her kids' names start with a "Z" (hence, "Z" in "CookieZ"): Zekeil, 2, Zeydn, 3, Zavier, 7, Zander, 8, Zoey, 9, and Zachary, 11.

Rebecca started out making lactation cookies online for her friends starting in 2011. One of her friends introduced her to lactation cookies, which help moms make nutritious milk for breastfeeding.

Rebecca tried the cookies and did not like them. "They're not that amazing," she said. "They didn't give me that wow factor." She decided to improve the recipe.

Rebecca spent a lot of her childhood eating with her grandmother who was a Home Economics teacher. "So I called my grandma," Rebecca said. "and I'm like, 'I want to do this thing and I'm going to try different variations."

"The first cookie I ever made--that was delicious--was a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie," Rebecca said.

That cookie inspired her to expand on the recipe. "Why don't we make it double chocolate chip? So then I put more chocolate chips in it." Rebecca had an epiphany, she said she though she could start with a simple cookie recipe and turn it into anything she wants.

She sold to friends everywhere she went--from Michigan to Fort Drum. "And in every place, everyone was like, 'This is amazing. You should open a store.' And I'm like, 'I'll probably never do that,'" Rebecca said.

She eventually sold so many cookies that she decided to move to a store. Now she's located on the plaza in Waynesville, but she still has her first business which is Nourish & Nurse.

Rebecca recognizes the need for a dessert shop in Pulaski county. "There are no cookie stores like ours anywhere. We're like the Cold Stone of cookies."

She set up the store with windows dividing the kitchen area from the counter sales area so all her customers can see what ingredients go into the cookies.

"I want to see that there's no contamination of any kind occurring even if it's accidental or deliberate. I like that transparency--being able to see how things are being done so people can be like, 'Hey, I forgot to tell you, I can't have that.' Then I can be like, 'Well, let me make it again.'"

Their first week was fairly successful. According to Tony, Rebecca's husband, they went through 50 pounds of butter and 200 pounds of oats.

Tony said, "We never sell a day old cookie." They bake fresh cookies every day and donate extra cookies to local organizations, like Genesis House, Pulaski County's domestic violence shelter. Their most popular flavor, according to Tony, is blueberry lemon.

Rebecca and Tony get cookie ideas from customers. "And then we started playing with flavors," Rebecca said. "Or we would take suggestions." She and Tony would ask people to think of a flavor and they would try to incorporate that flavor in a cookie.

Rebecca said, "That's where blueberry lemon came from. That's also how we came up with the chocolate double chocolate chip cookie."

Manager Heather Pack said, "I love that it [CookieZ] is veteran-owned and that they [Rebecca and Tony] really strive to provide for a demographic that isn't able to really get stuff, whether it's sugar free, gluten free, vegan, any of that. There's so much passion behind the business itself."

Heather has known Rebecca for years and supported her through hard times. "She just believes in being there for people. Since 2014, when her kids were wrongfully taken, I think it just spurred her passion even more to really be there for others and do what she can to provide whatever services she can. She's probably one of the strongest, most driven and determined women I've ever met. I'm proud to call her my friend and sister," Heather said.