Want to send your special Valentine a sweet message?
Oh Boy Sweets, a small business selling custom-made sugar cookies, is having a Valentines Pop Up Sale on Thursday, February 9 between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Curvy Chick.
Jen Tkachyk, the creator and momma baker of Oh Boy Sweets, said the inspiration behind her cookies come from traditional holiday colors. Reds and greens for Christmas, and for Valentine’s Day, lots of pinks, purples, and reds.
This is Tkachyk’s second year doing a pop-up, a set up that works well when she has limited time for taking orders.
“The reason I decided to do a pop up for Valentine’s Day is just timing wise. The next two weekends, my son has hockey tournaments. So where I would normally take orders from customers, I just didn’t have the time to commit to taking on a lot of orders. So pop up sales work really great for me when I am limited in time, because I can basically just make whatever I can and just sell what I have on hand,” she said.
Tkachyk was born and raised in Fort Frances. Although her family moved out to Calgary, Alberta, for 12 years, they soon returned to Fort Frances after their family expanded. “We had just had our twins. And we just needed more help from family with our kids,” she said.
“So we moved back to Fort Frances. And when I moved here, I was still on maternity leave. And I was just, I mean, I was busy. I had three kids at home. But I was almost restless.”
To fill up her free time, Tkachyk exercised the skills she learned through a cooking course she had taken with a couple of girlfriends back in Calgary. The desire for a creative outlet during late nights after the kids were asleep led to the creation of a well-loved baking business.
“And so when I had free time when the kids were sleeping, I would just kind of play around with the kitchen and I just started decorating,” she said. “Some of my family had started encouraging me to sell. So I just mostly sold to friends and family right at the start. My first sale was in for Mother’s Day, actually, Mother’s Day of 2019.”
Since then, Tkachyk has handcrafted, baked and decorated countless of cookies in her kitchen—with the helping hands of her three boys Chase, Walker, and Finn who continue to be her inspiration behind Oh Boy Sweets.
Her boys’ favorite thing to do is crack the eggs, “which usually doesn’t go very well,” she said.
Her business has garnered over 1.3K followers on Facebook and over 1.5K followers on Instagram. Posts display a range of themed cookie assortments for all sorts of occasions such as sporting events, 40th birthdays, spooky halloween parties, business branding, truth and reconciliation day, weddings, and everything in between.
Tkachyk uses her baking skills and growing business to fundraise for causes that mean a lot to her.
In the past, she has collaborated with Curvy Chick Boutique founder Jennifer Horton for the Shine The Light Campaign. Light bulb-shaped cookies were sold to raise awareness for human trafficking and women abuse.
Tkachyk said she is working on two new fundraising initiatives. One is to the Splash Park, she said, and another to the Tamarack House in Thunder Bay, which offers lodging for out-of-town patients and their companions for the duration of cancer treatment.
“I recently lost my father in law to cancer, so I’m trying to give back to the Tamarack house.”
Tkachyk was a mother when she launched her small business, baking during the late hours of the night.
Despite taking on a full-time job at a healthcare organization in town for the past year and a half, she continues to make cookies before bed.
“I can’t give up cookies, I still love it, I still need it as a creative outlet,” she said.
“I have cut back slightly. But because I’ve been doing it for so long now, I am faster. So I can still get a lot of cookies done. Even if it seems like my time is limited. But I only work on cookies after the kids go to bed. So I try not to do it on the weekends, because it’s just difficult and we have other things going on like my son has hockey, and you know, just trying to do stuff outside. But all my cookie time is typically between the hours of 8pm and 11pm.”
In the past two weeks, Tkachyk experimented with baking macarons which will also be sold at the Valentines Pop-Up Sale. Although she heard that they can be “finicky” to make, she said she has had good luck with them.
Her oldest son Chase has been a loyal taste tester and enjoys trying all the flavours.
Due to the popularity of her sugar cookies, those who would like a custom order are encouraged to book three months in advance. Tkachyk said she takes on about one to two orders a week. Especially around the holidays, things tend to pick up.
“I encourage people to reach out probably about three months in advance of their event, even if they don’t have a theme or a design in mind. Still send me a quick message, I can see if the date’s available, and then we can narrow down the designs closer to the date,” she said.
“And to get a hold of me, most people will just message me through social media, either Facebook or Instagram, or I can be reached by email or through my website.”
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Tkachyk said her and her boys love making crafts such as heart decor. As for her and her husband Dustin, Tkachyk said they will try to sneak out for a dinner date—granted that the grandparent-babysitter is available.
Follow ‘Oh Boy Sweets’ on Instagram and Facebook at @ohboysweets.