Lynchburg Living Editor Shelley Basinger: Heather, your cookies and other baked goods are certainly eye-catching! When did you first develop a passion for baking?
Heather Sollers: As a child, I used to love making recipes from my mom’s cookbooks and surprising my family. I started off with small snacks, then meals, and, eventually, baked goods. I also remember making chocolate chip cookies every year with my family at Christmastime and everyone sharing cookies they had made after Christmas Eve dinner. This is a tradition I continue with my own family. I have five kids ranging from ages 6 to 20, three girls and two boys.
SB: At what point did your baking turn into more of an artform?
HS: I first tried my hand at making more complicated, artistic cakes for my daughters’ joint birthday party back in 2005. I made a princess castle cake for my then four-year-old and a 3D baby sitting on a cloud for my then one-year-old. After my son was born in 2011, I made my first decorated sugar cookies—a flower cookie pop bouquet for the nurses.
SB: When did you officially start up your business, Creative Confections by Heather?
HS: I actually had a completely different job when we lived in New Jersey. I went to mortuary school and became a funeral director and only baked cakes and cookies on the side. In March of 2014, my husband was transferred and we moved to Lynchburg. Later that same month, I had my daughter and made cookies to thank the wonderful nurses at the Birth Center. A year later, I did the same when I had my son. The nurses quickly spread the word about my cookies and that’s when my business really started. In 2016, I created my LLC, got my business license, and became a state-inspected manufacturer.
SB: What types of techniques do you use?
HS: For the most part, I’m self-taught. While there are a number of ways to ice and decorate a cookie,
I use royal icing because it is easy to work with, dries hard, and is extremely versatile. With it, I am able to decorate with the wet-on-wet technique to create various designs, and when the icing is dry, I can layer it, airbrush it, do brush embroidery, hand paint, and use edible markers to add small details. I am always experimenting and learning new techniques.
SB: Do you have any favorites you’ve created?
HS: One of my favorites was a three-tier, ’80s-themed cake that I made for an E.C. Glass reunion a few years ago. I love everything ’80s!
My most memorable cookies would be the “Riverdale” cookies from 2017. They were my first to go viral, shared by Archie Comics and Seventeen Magazine, among others. That was pretty exciting!
SB: Likewise, what are some of the most unique requests you have received?
HS: Every year, usually for Halloween or Christmas, my husband’s cousin comes up with some crazy idea that she wants me to turn into a cookie. We’ve done everything from zombie snowmen to creepy dolls and scary nuns. But, I love the challenge!
SB: You’ve been baking for the Craddock Terry Hotel since 2016. How is that going?
HS: I started off making the red shoe cookies then quickly added many other items. Currently, I make all of the enhancements, custom orders, and the food items in their gift shop. I also bake custom items and treats for Shoemakers and Waterstone, and for the City of Newport News.
SB: What do you love the most about what you do?
HS: I love that I have a unique outlet for my creativity that also contributes to the memories of someone’s special day or event. I love the excitement my customers have when they are ordering and then when they see their cookies for the first time. I also feel very blessed to be a volunteer Sugar Angel for Icing Smiles. Through Icing Smiles, I am able to share my gift by providing dream cakes, celebration cakes, and cookies for families who are impacted by the critical illness of a child. Seeing the excited, appreciative smiles when a child receives their cake or cookies is something that I will always remember.