This time of year, especially, sweets of all types are being made and given as gifts. But for Coni Brigner of Englewood making and giving sweet treats has been a lifelong passion since she started baking as a young girl.
“My mom was a baker and taught me a lot of techniques,” Brigner said. “I started baking Christmas cookies and giving them away as gifts when I was 21.”
And this holiday season, Brigner and her family worked together, as they have for the past 39 years, making nearly 450 dozen cookies and placing them on 100 trays.
“This is a six day event in my house,” Brigner said. “My daughters and I coordinate our schedules and bake for five days straight. On the sixth day, we deliver sweets to family, friends, neighbors and service providers. We also take trays to homeless shelters, the YWCA and the House of Bread in Dayton.”
And though Brigner’s sweets have become well known and people have suggested she sell them, she hasn’t charged for them. “I’m a nurse and I work two jobs,” she said. “Even though the word has gotten out about my sweets to thousands of people, I just don’t have the time to take orders and sell them.”
Brigner’s lifelong dream has been to have a brick and mortar bakery. “I’ve always baked everything in my small (10-foot-by-10-foot) kitchen and because having a bakery would require a huge investment, I started thinking about other ideas.”
About four years ago, Brigner said she began noticing the proliferation of “food trucks” appearing in the Miami Valley and she began to think about a new concept for her business. “I know trucks cost a fraction of what a building would cost,” she said. “And it seemed a great way to get the sweets out to people.”
Sweets on the Streets, is becoming a reality, as Brigner has started soliciting funds to make her dream come true. She applied for funding through Kickstarter.com, a website designed to help projects get started. “We put a lot of effort into our video and trying to get our message out there,” Brigner said. “We put letters on all of our cookie trays this year, asking friends and relatives to consider supporting us.”
Brigner’s goal of $15,000 will purchase the truck and the equipment she needs to get started. “I will be putting in a little money in,” Brigner said. “But the bulk of the project will be funded through Kickstarter.
The business will be a family affair, with oldest daughter Kate Springhart, who is also a registered nurse, helping bake and staff the truck. Brigner’s middle daughter, Lauren Straub, also a baker is already selling some of her wares in Cincinnati where she lives.
“My teenage daughter, Natalie, is very business minded and she has some great ideas about marketing,” Brigner said.
Brigner hopes Sweets on the Streets will open for business in the spring of 2014, and she will be able to take items like her famous chocolate chip cookie, made from an old family recipe, bread pudding with whiskey sauce, “ooey gooey” cinnamon rolls and 30 types of sweet treats out to the neighborhoods in and around Dayton. “We also have a salted caramel cake that people go crazy over,” Brigner said. “I hope to park outside businesses in the morning and sell coffee and sweets for breakfast and throughout the day we have plans to be around the college campuses and even offering late night snacks.” Brigner said she will be offering a few savory items as well, like gourmet grilled cheese and crepes.
Brigner’s Kickstarter deadline is Jan. 15, and she is offering treats from her truck to investors, based upon the amount pledged.
“I believe that it is never too late to pursue your dream in life,” Brigner said. “This has real meaning to me because you hear so much about how loving what you are doing can make your work joyful. There is nothing I love more than creating and offering wonderful sweets. This is why I’m asking for help. If a lot of people offer a little help, we will reach our goal.”