Meet a Mom: From Broadway to Broadway – Meet Caroline Wagner, Founder of Little Broadway Cookies! | Chicago North Shore Moms

Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new Chicago North Shore Moms spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law.

Caroline Wagner is the creative force behind Little Broadway Cookies, a delightful confectionery nestled in the heart of Evanston. Originally from South Carolina, Caroline’s journey led her through bustling cities like New York City and Boston before settling in Evanston over a decade ago. With three lively children in tow—twin boys and a daughter—Caroline’s days are a whirlwind of activity, from chauffeuring to sporting events to crafting delicious treats in her sunny backyard studio. Drawing on her background in graphic design and fashion merchandising, Caroline infuses each cookie with vibrant colors and intricate designs, creating edible works of art for any occasion. As she continues to sprinkle sweetness across the North Shore, Caroline’s mantra of resilience and gratitude shines through in every batch of her delectable creations. With a heart full of gold, she often gives back to her community (read on to see how she supports local nonprofits). Plus, the self-proclaimed “cookie nerd” has managed to convince her warm climate parents to “winter” here in Evanston!! Welcome Caroline and Little Broadway Cookies!

 


Hi Caroline! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?

Hi, North Shore moms! I’m Caroline Wagner. I grew up in South Carolina, went to college in North Carolina and landed in Evanston about 11 years ago after turns in NYC and Boston. We were living in NYC when our twins were born and decided it was time for a little more space so my husband applied for a job in Chicago and the rest is history. I had actually only been to Chicago once before we traveled here to buy a house – a big leap of faith that thankfully turned out well! We love living on the North Shore and couldn’t imagine raising our kids anywhere else.

I have twin boys who are 13 and a daughter who is 9. My husband, Bryan, and I were living in NYC when our twins were born.They are fun, active kids who keep me on my toes (and in the car driving to and from countless sporting events and at orthopedist appointments for lots of broken bones!).

 

What are one or two fun facts to know about you?

There is an event called CookieCon that I attend every year where hundreds of us cookie nerds convene in one place to learn new things in the cookie decorating world. It’s always one of the highlights of my year!

We love living in Evanston so much that we recently convinced my parents to also move up part time from South Carolina – they’re like reverse snowbirds now! It’s wonderful to have them close by after living far away for so long.

 

What are your favorite North Shore places, spaces and eats to frequent?

I love our little stretch of Central Street in Evanston – DeSalvos or Bluestone for family dinners, Backlot for much-needed coffee, Notice for fun shopping, Hewn for all things delicious. Other favorites include: Five and Dime; Cupitol; Hartigans Ice Cream; The Fat Shallot; Joe and the Juice; Fred’s Garage; Pomeroy; Guildhall.

For self-care, I’m a devotee of Sky Nails and Images Day Spa (see Maria for the best facials around!)
For home design and decor cloth+home – They are a great shop in Evanston that supports local designers and sometimes I do pop up cookie shops there. I actually have one coming up for Mother’s Day on May 11th!

 

Your mantra?

This too shall pass. It sounds a little more ominous than I mean for it to but essentially I just find it very helpful to remember that each phase typically has a beginning and an ending. Your kids WILL eventually get potty trained and probably won’t go to college with a pacifier although it can definitely feel like it at the time.

 

What gets you through a tough day, week, month, etc.?

I definitely couldn’t get through the day without coffee. I’m also a big fan of OrangeTheory Fitness Evanston for a good dopamine boost. I love to go on runs or walks with my husband Bryan, or good girlfriends. I also love learning more about cookie decorating and have a lot of fun taking online classes and traveling around the region to take classes with other cookiers.

 

Your business began on Broadway in New York City and now you’re making these gorgeously yummy creations out of your Evanston home. Tell us all about Little Broadway Cookies and include how you got started in the custom cookie business.

I’ve been making decorated cookies for quite some time now – probably around 20 years. I got my start making custom cakes and quickly discovered after a few wedding cakes that cookies are much more fun for me (and less stressful!) I started baking for friends and coworkers in my tiny kitchen on Broadway in NYC and now bake on Broadway Avenue in Evanston. I thought it was such a fun coincidence and decided to play off of that when naming my business and Little Broadway Cookies was born. I am licensed under Evanston Cottage laws, which means that I have my food handlers certification and can bake out of a residential kitchen. We recently added a studio in our backyard so I now have a sunny new spot to work and it’s been a game changer.

In my previous career I was a buyer in the fashion industry so I’ve enjoyed being able to apply my training in design and color theory to cookies. After my youngest started kindergarten I decided to give the cookie thing a go full time and haven’t looked back. I love getting to know people and designing fun cookies that make them look good at their events.

 

Photo credit Pam Lagger Photography

How far out do you need requests? Do you deliver? What is your minimum order? What is your maximum order?

At a minimum I require 2 weeks lead time but often I am booked out well in advance of that. Busier months like May/June and November/December book up months in advance so get your orders in early! I don’t deliver at this time but I have had clients order an Uber delivery so that’s always an option. My minimum order is one dozen and maximum is pretty big with enough advance notice.

For printed orders, such as company logos, I can often add those into my schedule with less notice so it never hurts to ask!

 

Photo credit Pam Lagger Photography

Do you have anyone helping you with orders?

No, right now it’s a one woman show but I’d love to add helpers in the future. In the short term I have my eye on a commercial sized mixer, which would be a huge help!

 

Photo credit Pam Lagger Photography

What is the most unique cookie project you’ve worked on?

I get attached to every order that I work on but some that stand out in my mind are a pregnancy announcement order, cookies made to benefit the Children’s Heart Foundation and cookies for the daughter of a certain famous Chicago-based music artist. I also made cookies that traveled to an Usher concert and got to meet him backstage!

 

What did you do before you launched Little Broadway Cookies?

I studied graphic design in undergrad and later went to the Fashion Institute of Technology to study fashion merchandising. From there, I worked as a buyer for several companies including Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Talbots. I loved working with designers and planners to determine assortments and having an inside peek at what was coming up in the fashion world.

 

Giving back to our local communities is something you’re passionate about. Tell us about your involvement with Bundled Blessings Diaper Bank.

For the last several years I’ve been involved in Bundled Blessings Diaper Bank, a local all-volunteer organization that supplies approximately 41,000 diapers each month to local families through partnerships with social service agencies such as Connections for the Homeless and World Relief. It’s a great cause and they’re always looking for groups willing to host diaper drives.

 

Any advice to moms out there looking to start up a small business?

Just take the leap! It’s never going to be the perfect time but once you get started things come together and you can figure it out as you go. Also connect with other people doing similar things. I have found some really fantastic cookiers out there on the North Shore and beyond who have made the cookie journey even more fun and have given me great advice along the way.

 

Give us your dets!

The best way to check out the latest at Little Broadway Cookies is through Instagram @littlebroadwaycookies. For ordering and inquiries, please fill out a form on my website at www.littlebroadwaycookies.com or contact me at [email protected] anytime!

About our Meet of Mom Sponsor

A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].

 

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