Focusing on every sweet little detail, our NJMOMpreneur Myrna Chernick of Sugarworks Cookies has built her baking business through creativity, intricate planning and purposeful collaborations with other mom-and-pop shops right here in New Jersey. This Ringwood mom of two girls is admittedly “cookie-obsessed,” leading her to create gorgeously intricate sugar cookies that taste as good as they look. From her passion for lifting up her community, to her love of nature, to her dedication to offering deliciousness for gluten-free and dairy-free diets, this baking boss is serving up some serious inspiration. We sat down with her to talk about the creative process for “cookie-fying” everyday objects, her favorite hiking spots around the state’s Highlands region, and her pick for best pizza (shrimp scampi pie anyone?) in North Jersey.
featured image via Amy Roth
Founder of Sugarworks Cookies & NJMOMpreneur Myrna Chernick
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Myrna: Sugarworks Cookies are charming, buttery sugar cookies that give me the opportunity to offer a sweet alternative to traditional gift giving or party favors. Dessert tables are a mainstay at almost every event nowadays, and a platter of themed cookies is a perfect compliment. With so many food intolerances out there, I bake sugar cookies that are also gluten-free and eggless. I’ve developed a gluten free recipe that yields remarkable results like my traditional sugar cookie recipes.
Always preplan, don’t give up too easily and be willing to work/collaborate with someone who may know more than you. You’ll always need to up your game, be open to mentors and teachers. Most importantly, you know more than you think you do, so be kind to yourself.” – NJMOMpreneur Myrna Chernick
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Myrna: I love all things handmade! In our family, we are big DIYers. When my girls were small, like many moms, I spent a good amount of time planning themes for their birthday parties. Pretty cookies were just starting to hit the scene, but cookie bakeries were scarce and super expensive. I decided to decorate my own cookie favors and became cookie obsessed. That’s how Sugarworks was born.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Myrna: My absolute favorite part is the creative process as opposed to the actual baking. Before I turn on an oven or fill an icing bag, I trace cutters onto my sketch pad and begin designing, sketching and coloring ideas. I try my best to “cookie-fy” just about anything that catches my eye, often with hilarious results!
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Myrna: I worked in corporate sales for many years before rolling out cookie dough. Because I worked out in my territory, not behind a desk, I needed to be highly disciplined working alone. Spending the necessary time pre-planning a baking and decorating schedule has helped provide structure to my tiny business. The needed focus to approach other small mom-and-pop businesses to partner with comes from being able to identify potential opportunities by sitting down and doing the homework first.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Myrna: It was exciting having my cookies make it to Broadway and knowing maybe a few famous actors and dancers are waiting for the next batch to arrive! Just saying.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Myrna: I do yoga and meditate daily. It’s truly a lifesaver especially because yoga helps me cope with autoimmune disease. Deep tissue fatigue and a foggy brain can hit at any time and yoga provides healing movements and a balanced mindset to begin my day with an advantage.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Myrna: Personally speaking, my hubby and I will be empty nesters soon. Which means, professionally, I can delve full time into cookie happiness. I can begin by offering regular cookie decorating class workshops for beginners and intermediate decorators and collaborate with hyper-local small businesses to do pop-up shops and events.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Myrna: There are so many worthwhile charities, but I’m most passionate about local charities like Eva’s Village in Paterson and the Ringwood chapter of the Center for Food Action. The need is great to help supplement nutritious meals but also provide a safe environment that extends respect and dignity at a food bank.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Myrna: Too many to choose from! My parents, for starters. They’re always supportive and nurturing. My dad was a super hard worker, logging in very long hours never asking for a drop of help. My mother-in-law, who I call a cheeky senior, still works at her local library (long after she retired from IBM) because she loves it.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Myrna: Don’t make big decisions when you are sad, mad or very happy. Never on a high or a low. Sleep on it and then listen to what your spirit has to say.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
If you have a problem you can solve with action, you don’t have a problem.”
– Mel Robbins
I like this quote because it lends tremendous value in assessing and quantifying situations and freeing up much needed time to focus on real problem-solving.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Myrna: My family and I love spending time outdoors. During the winter, we head to Mountain Creek for a season of skiing. If skiing is something you love to do frequently, buy the season pass, it’s a good value. Around the warmer months, we log in a good amount of time mountain biking in Ringwood State Park and taking long walks through Skylands Botanical Garden.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Myrna: Instilling a love of community to my daughters from a young age and watching them grow into compassionate and capable young ladies that can identify a need and help fill it. Both girls earned their Girl Scout Silver Awards with community-based projects during middle school. They continue to inspire me with their continued commitment in remaining proactive in our town, as well as in their respective high school and college.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Myrna: The fam and I enjoy a good pizza! We especially love the mouthwatering, wood-fired pizza at Coney Island Pizza in Riverdale. Try the one topped with shrimp scampi. A flight of sangria at Sangria Restaurant in Mahwah always makes me happy, along with half a dozen tapas. During the summer, ice cream is a must and Curly’s Ice Cream in Riverdale is scrumptious. Banana Oreo or Cannoli ice cream? Yes, please. Aside from my own cookies, for gift giving, I almost always turn to Pazzazed in Franklin Lakes for handcrafted goods. When I want to get my craft on, I head to Creative Den in Glen Rock for handcrafting and other classes.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Myrna: I live in beautiful Ringwood, nestled in the Highlands region of northern New Jersey. Skyline Drive is the mountain road that brings you into Ringwood State Park and our lake community. The drive is especially popular during the fall foliage and it offers a bird’s eye view of Manhattan on clear days. Winters are gorgeous, complete with frozen lakes to ice skate on or go ice fishing. Our summers are lazy, mostly spent lakeside and hiking with our dog, Charlie. What’s not to love? Over the summer months, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove are our favorite beach spots complete with the beachside boardwalk, tiny shops, and cafes. The best part? They’re pet-friendly.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Myrna: Always pre-plan, don’t give up too easily and be willing to work/collaborate with someone who may know more than you. You’ll always need to up your game, be open to mentors and teachers. Most importantly, you know more than you think you do, so be kind to yourself.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Myrna: Cookies are best eaten with your name piped on them with fluffy pink icing ?