This Asian fusion bakery brings new flavors to Austin
How this small business owner left her corporate job to pursue her passion.
What started as a baking blog eventually turned into a home bakery business that marries American-style chewy cookies and Asian flavors.
“The dichotomy of being Asian American is what motivated me to add Asian flavors to my recipes,” says Erica Yern, founder of Cookie Wookie Kitchen in Austin, Texas. She grew up eating chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispie treats, and also visiting Asian bakeries with her parents. “So to bring those two worlds together was kind of a natural fit for me.”
Yern, a former broadcast news producer and baking blogger launched her micro bakery business during the pandemic and soon found a local community of fans who posted on social media to help boost business.
“I was always working for someone else's creative vision, so I used baking as a creative outlet to promote my own vision,” Yern says. “I was able to create things and make things that I wanted to eat. I've always liked to combine flavors and textures to kind of create something new and unexpected.”
When Yern first moved to Austin, she was still working hard at her blog, making lots of treats, which she would hand out to friends and family who encouraged her to launch a bakery business.
“Austin is a small city at heart,” Yern says. “They have always been really supportive of local businesses.”
Starting a business during the pandemic was only one challenge Yern faced. She says she felt a bit nervous with her venture because she was seeing lots of news about prejudice and hate against Asians and Asian Americans.
“I didn’t know how this community would take a business started by an Asian American,” Yern says. “Luckily, when I did start, a lot of people reached out and a lot of Instagrammers were open to posting about the business and were really supportive. I had local businesses reaching out saying … they would be there for me, and that was so amazing.”
Yern says her goal with Cookie Wookie Kitchen is to keep customers excited by launching new flavors monthly, often inspired by shopping trips to Asian supermarkets.
“It really gets your brain going,” she says. “That’s how I came up with one of our products, the Jolly Pong Mochi Crispy Treat, just by walking through H Mart and finding a Korean cereal that I had never tasted before. It elicits different emotions and different flavors that kind of married together.”
Hear more about small business owners making a big impact on It’s My Business.