COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — A current healthcare worker and future nursing student is seeing some serious success after launching an online-based cookie company in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pedro Camargo was supposed to start his nursing degree at Grand Rapids Community College last year, but COVID-19 had other plans.
After pushing the start of that degree to August of 2021, Camargo decided to expand his wealth of experiences by finding a job as a tech in Butterworth Hospital's emergency department.
Before that he spent about three years working within the mental health space at Pine Rest.
Camargo's foray into baking began as lockdowns were put into effect in early 2020, prompting all of us to spend more time exploring our hobbies at home.
“So I started looking at my talents, and I was like, 'Well, I cook a lot... but I can't exactly open a regular kitchen. So, what can I do?'” Camargo told FOX 17 Thursday afternoon.
Baking muffins, croissants, and all sorts of baked goods, Camargo would bring the treats into work for his coworkers to try and critique. Eventually he decided he would focus his efforts on cookies.
Under Michigan's Cottage Food laws, Camargo was able to begin selling his baked goods from his home kitchen. Eventually though, he decided he wanted to expand his business.
“Starting a whole kitchen by myself wasn't exactly in the playbook, because I'm going to nursing school and trying to save for that. So I started looking at different options,” he explained.
What he found was Cooking Connection, a shared kitchen space in Comstock Park owned by Holly Delrosario.
“We want to give a space where it's licensed; people can operate legally... Everybody in here needs to be licensed as their own businesses,” Delrosario said Thursday.
She has run her own company, Cookie Chicks, from the space for nearly seven years now. While there has always been other small businesses sharing the building with her, only a few months ago did she officially launch Cooking Connection.
“They come in here, they can put their signs on the wall, they can have retail, they can put the address on their business cards, and we work together to try and support one another as small businesses.”
All of the businesses within Cooking Connection must have some sort of charitable activity that gives back to West Michigan.
There are currently two cookie companies, two coffee companies and a bread maker working out of the space—each of them donating a portion of their proceeds to a different charitable organization.
“This was definitely one of those things, like... I didn't think before COVID I would ever start a business; I just never had the time to sit down and think about it and say, 'Hey, I could probably make a good run at that,'” Camargo said Thursday.
“This opportunity here has allowed me to actually start pursuing it without, you know, going bankrupt right away.”