By Amy Holditch
Photos by Mary Margaret Smith
Many of us are amateur chefs, preparing the perfect pot of soup or creating an Insta-worthy meal or inspiring salad, often on a daily basis. But, creating iced sugar cookies is a whole different game. The perfect cookie must be built from the ground up, with each and every ingredient having a specific spot in the foundation of this comforting, soul-soothing creation. Like most things, it’s all about the chemistry. You either have it or you don’t. Kat Jones has definitely got it.
Postbox Sweets—formerly named Hey Kat Bakes—is her labor of love. After watching her friend Melissa Galbraith bake and decorate cookies, Kat was hooked. “Royal icing is tricky and often frustrating. But, she was always so encouraging so I kept going,” Kat says. When introduced to royal icing in 2016, Kat’s love of food and art came together, and she began creating edible works of art that also helped to create meaningful events. Royal icing, for those not in the know, is icing that hardens to a candy-like texture, smooth and blemish-free. “Royal icing was invented for Queen Victoria’s wedding cake and is used to decorate all of my sugar cookies,” Kat explains.
The Auburn graduate is a service industry veteran. She started working in her father’s Mobile restaurant, Hart’s Fried Chicken, at the age of 14, and her family has all kept those restaurants going for more than 50 years. She grew up on the assembly line and fell in love with the process creating a product from start to finish. “I’ve always loved baking.” Kat says. “So, when I learned the art of decorating cookies, it all came naturally to me.”
Today Kat creates custom cookies for all occasions as well as subscription boxes. Each piece of cookie art is delicately iced, lined and colored. Need sloth cookies? She’s got you. Tent cookies for your next campout? Done. The possibilities are endless. Her best sellers are The Cookie Club, a three-month subscription of holiday-themed boxes, and Paint Your Own sets. “The paint kits come with an edible paint pallet, and you use it just like watercolor,” Kat explains. “Just dip the paintbrush in water, then color and paint the cookie.”
Just before the pandemic began a year ago, Kat had started teaching classes at local businesses and holding pop-ups around the holidays. And then came COVID. “I held my breath when the pandemic hit,” Kat says. “Since I bake from home and not in a commercial kitchen, I reached out to my contact at Cottage Food Industry, and she gave me the go ahead to keep on baking. Aside from not doing pop-ups or teaching, I really haven’t been impacted at all.” (The Alabama Food Cottage Law went into effect in 2014 and basically states that individuals can produce certain nonhazardous foods in their homes and cannot be sold to restaurants, novelty shops, grocery stores or over the internet.)
In these times in place of the pop-ups Kat has been offering The Cookie Club and allows for pre orders where people can shop online and pick them up. “For now, there are big tables full of cookies from which to choose,” Kat says. “It was one of my favorite things to do.”
In these strange times, though, came a new name for Kat’s baking business, which she’d called Hey Kat Bakes from the start of things. The new moniker, Postbox Sweets, was inspired by her love of all things British. “Elements of Victorian era stamps, The Royal Mail and Queen Victoria’s crown became inspiration for the logo design and brand illustrations,” Kat says. “I come from a long line of restaurant owners, and hearts are incorporated into the design as a nod to our family restaurant, Hart’s. Our loyal and brave lion mascot is also named Hart.” The logo was created by Holly Hollon. “I’m extremely grateful for her creativity and expertise,” she says.
Although Kat has no current plans to open a storefront, she is “always dreaming about having a spot somewhere or finding someone to collaborate with.” As for now, “It’s me, wearing all the hats,” she says, noting she accepts only two to three custom orders per month and stays booked.
On any given day, you can find Kat doing all the life things on top of her baking business. “I’m shuffling kids to and from school/activities, cleaning house or catching up on laundry. Other days, I’m baking, making icing, decorating cookies, packaging orders or waiting on clients to pick up cookies,” she says. “I think it’s what I love most about the job. Every day is different, and there is always something to do.”
And then that’s not even getting to the treasure of the cookies themselves: “Whether it’s a big holiday month, wedding season, birthday or celebrating our amazing teachers, it all brings me so much joy!”
To learn more about Postbox Sweets or place an order, visit postboxsweets.com. You can follow Kat’s cookie creations on Instagram @postboxbykat too.
A Chat with Kat
What’s your favorite dessert?
I have never met a dessert I didn’t like, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be fruit tarts. My husband, Hank, always gives me one or two on special occasions.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding running a small business?
I have several small business owners as close friends, and they have all shared wise words with me. I think the one that I have held close is, “Rest in what you are doing well.”
What do you do in your downtime?
I love spending time with my family. We have two boys and love movie nights. We also love riding bikes, camping and making art.
Describe your perfect day.
Spending all day outside, hiking and exploring.