Turns out Leigh Ann Shaner, owner of Your Cookie Rookie, is no rookie. Her business may be new to Waynesburg and Franklin Township, but it is a business she and her husband Andy Shaner have dabbled with for a decade.
In October 2019, they relocated to 1604 E. High St., directly behind the American Judo Hapkido Institute. They provide customers with custom orders of hand-decorated cookies for $23 a dozen, as well as offer a signature cookie of the month for $18 a dozen.
“Ten years ago, I made cookies for my first baby shower accidently because I was too lazy to bake a cake,” Leigh Ann Shaner said. “Our pastor’s wife at the time called and said we really need to make this into something.”
After partnering with their pastor’s wife, who was a public relations professional, Leigh Ann Shaner and Andy Shaner were ready to take their talents to the next level.
“Her and her family really helped with the beginnings of this company and it was really their influence that brought this together,” Andy Shaner said.
The Shaners began sampling their potential product as Leigh Ann Shaner continued to receive requests from friends and family for cookies. Her hobby would soon develop into the successful business they are running today.
“We started giving out a lot of samples and finally nailed down a recipe and it really just snowballed from there,” Leigh Ann Shaner said.
Upon marrying Leigh Ann Shaner, Andy Shaner explained he had no intention of entering the baking business or making it his life’s profession.
“I knew she was Italian. I knew she liked to bake. I knew she liked to make food, but I had no idea this is where we’d be,” Andy Shaner said.
Leigh Ann Shaner’s endeavors originated about 30 years ago while decorating Christmas cookies with her family.
“My mother-in-law just expected us to slap some icing on and it would be done, but I wanted to be fancy,” she said.
Her mother-in-law, Nancy Shaner, inspired her love for cookie decorating by taking Leigh Ann Shaner into a cookie cutter store in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Leigh Ann Shaner received a lobster cookie cutter she had refrained from buying that day at the beach from her in-laws for Christmas later that year. This soon turned into their businesses’ trademark, an essential piece of their family’s tradition and an icon to the late Nancy Shaner.
“She was like ‘you cannot make lobster cookies for Christmas’, and I was like ‘I absolutely can.’ Every time we made cookies after that, we always included the lobster cookie,” Leigh Ann Shaner said.
She continues this tradition within her business. Each customer of Your Cookie Rookie receives a red lobster cookie with their order, along with a small card explaining the story behind the symbolic lobster.
The lobster only ever changes color during two months of the year. In October, customers receive a pink lobster for breast cancer awareness, and in March, a purple lobster for prematurity awareness. To further their support, Your Cookie Rookie donates to organizations dedicated to each cause.
Along with orders for pick-up, Your Cookie Rookie offers decorating parties and classes with Leigh Ann Shaner as well as offering cookie decorating kits for purchase. Upcoming parties will be held Feb. 24, March 9 and March 23.
Currently, Your Cookie Rookie only offers orders for pick-up, but the couple does have an interest in expanding to become a business that customers can visit and purchase from in store.
“It’s all about what God wants us to do. This is a faith-based company. If He prompts us to do something else we’re willing to look at it,” Andy Shaner said. “Even doing 12-14 dozen cookies a day, five days a week, it’s hard to keep up with the demand.”
The Shaners are looking for help from those who share the same passion for what they do.
“It’s going to take a special person that has a passion for doing this and isn’t just doing it for a paycheck,” Andy Shaner said. “We have a passion to help other people with sharing their special day or event. We have one chance to get it right for their birthday party or other event.”