Just desserts

Story and photos by Daniel Friedman

Lin Sue Cooney and Cindy Leech have a business, Sweet-Stops, making cookies, cupcakes, brownies, truffles and dark chocolate pecan toffee. They also teach classes on food and entertaining.

Businesses have to figure out how to somehow become known amongst all the other businesses vying for consumers’ attention. One advantage Sweet-Stops has is that almost everyone in Phoenix knows Cooney because she’s been on Channel 12News forever (since 1984). But public recognition won’t mix the batter any quicker or decorate cookies any faster, and yes, Cooney and Leech do all the baking themselves. And the deliveries. And the marketing.

There are no day-old cookies or cupcakes at Sweet-Stops because it’s all made to order. Much of their business is corporations looking to give treats to clients or someone having a celebration. The AJ’s Fine Foods stores at Central and Camelback, 44th Street and Camelback and Val Vista and Baseline all sell Sweet-Stops goods, but Cooney and Leech have no plans for a retail store, at least not yet.

Leech has operated her own business, Deck the Halls, for 20 years, decorating homes during the holidays and special occasions. So she knows her way around organizing, planning and sustaining a business. Cooney says she likes to do the baking and 50 things at once and that Leech is the steady, patient and calm partner.

Leech says being in business for yourself means putting in the time and “keeping your hand in the business” to maintain a personal touch. And do what you love, she says, because “if you don’t love it, it’s just a job.”

Sweet-Stops holds classes in cooking and entertaining about six times a year. The classes are announced on their Facebook page. At a recent class, Cooney was demonstrating how to decorate a sugar cookie with two colors of icing. She explained what kind of icing to use, what consistency the icing should be and how to apply it just so. It was obvious Cooney was having a good time and the students were taking in every detail, oohing and aahing over the tips and tricks they were learning.

Cooney says former co-anchor Kent Dana’s wife gave her a toffee recipe 28 years ago. “But I couldn’t leave it alone,” she says. She tweaked the recipe over time and friends requested the addictive sweet, which they referred to as “crack” and suggested she start selling it. Cooney says she has always loved baking dessert because, “It’s pretty, it’s decadent, it’s fancy and makes you feel good.”

Learn more about Sweet Stops.

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