By Lee Noles
INDIAN TRAIL – On any regular morning, before the sun breaks, and when most are still getting ready for work, Jackie Arndt is doing what she loves in the place she loves.
Arndt recently turned the garage in her grandparents’ old home into a successful, business she has named Nora C’s Bakery. The one-woman show has Arndt working by 7:30 each morning to create savory cookies, delectable cakes and delicious breads that sell throughout the area.
“I’m always shocked and excited when people like my cookies,” Arndt said. “I don’t want anyone to be disappointed, so I work hard at making everything right. It makes me happy when they like it.”
Arndt grew up in the kitchen and recalls making full meals by the time she was in first grade. She showed signs of her entrepreneurial spirit as she got older by preparing dinner for her parents, Linda and Phillip Rushing, that included handwritten menus that were similar to ones found in a restaurant.
“My sister and I worked hard on getting everything ready,” Arndt said.
The only time Arndt’s cooking didn’t go as planned was in fifth grade when the pan she was fixing her meal in caught fire. Things only got worse when the grease burned stronger after Arndt placed the pan into a sink that had water in it. The result was a fire that burned much of the surrounding cabinets.
“It didn’t scare me from cooking, though,” Arndt said. “My first thought was I was in trouble. I was thinking what my mom was going to say.”
Arndt’s parents and grandmother, Nora Catherine Rushing, were important figures in developing her cooking style. Nora, in particular, had an impact on Arndt, who described her grandmother as “classy” and “always put together.” Arndt’s world, however, changed in 1996 when Nora died in an automobile accident right in front of her home.
“She was a really good person,” Arndt said. “I wanted to honor her and named the bakery after her. You would think it would get easier talking about it, but it hasn’t.”
Arndt and her husband, Derek, bought her grandparents’ home in 2009 following the death of her grandfather, Homer, two years earlier. She began baking around the same time by creating cakes and cookies for her sons’ birthdays and then for family and friends. It wasn’t until Christmas 2017 when Arndt gave a plate of cookies for Linda to take to work that a career became more realistic.
“People enjoyed them,” Arndt said.
The response gave her confidence to begin making cookies for graduations, weddings and the first day of school. Arndt said the secret is having the cookie and frosting as soft as possible.
“When you bite into it, it melts,” Arndt said.
She also decorates the cookies with unique designs. For the back-to-school theme, she makes cookies into pencils or rulers and colors them with frosting that is similar to real life. She also puts little sayings on them.
Her business has only blossomed since opening in July as Arndt makes more than 300 cookies in her peak months in addition to the cakes and breads she creates. Arndt has made the most of the opportunity by turning what used to be the garage in her house into a commercial bakery. The area now features hardwood flooring, three blenders, two top-of-the line stoves, a refrigerator and freezer with an elongated steel counter all surrounded by a neutral pink. The color scheme is a nod to her grandmother’s style.
“It’s a woman’s bakery,” she points out.
Arndt is thinking about the possibility of moving the bakery from her house to a storefront location, but the idea is still several years away. Right now, she is happy being there when her kids go to school in the morning and waiting when they get back.
“I can still be an active participant in their lives,” Arndt said of her two sons who are 9 and 8 years old. “I can work with my schedule if I want to because I want to be there for them.”
Where to find it?
Jackie Arndt’s desserts are at the Faded Rose in Monroe. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.