Passion for baking turns into a blessing for Morton woman

Julie Schimmelpfennig / Times Correspondent
Lisa Rodeghiero finished the icing on bridal shower cookies Friday morning at her shop Baked Blessings by Lisa located at 111 West Washington Street in Morton. Fridays are her busiest day of the week.

MORTON — What started out as a fun activity to do with a friend grew into a full-time business for Lisa Rodeghiero of Morton. She is the owner of Baked Blessings by Lisa located at 111 West Washington Street in Morton.

Rodeghiero, 49-years-old, is a registered nurse and has been for 27 years. She started working part-time at OSF St. Francis in 2001 and for the last 7 years has been on the Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) Team there.

One of her hobbies has been baking. She said she would bake for fun and then in 2009 she and her friend were asked to bake for events such as graduation parties. Rodeghiero said she did not know how much even to charge for cookies because these were for family and friends. At that point baking was still very sporadic.

Then came a life changing event. Her father passed away.

“I dove into making cookies to deal with it. It was like my therapy,” she said.

Word of mouth from customers helped increase business and with every cookie she made she practiced ways to get better.

“There is always room for improvement,” Rodeghiero said. “As my techniques grew and changed, the more business I got from referrals.”

She was baking custom themed cookies out of her home kitchen and customers would pick up their orders from Rodeghiero’s house. People started asking her about getting her own place for her business.

“At that point I didn’t see this as something sustainable,” she said. “I would tell people that I’ll bake cookies until the door closes. I was also limited because of health department regulations and I knew there were certain things I couldn’t do.”

More changes were happening in Rodeghiero’s life. She said she had been so focused on the baking cookies opportunity door that she had not noticed the door slowly closing on her nursing career.

At the same time, the owner of So Chic Boutique, Sara O’Shea, was looking for a new location and the one she found had a set up for a kitchen in part of the building. O’Shea approached Rodeghiero about the location.

“I talked with my husband about it,” she said. “He told me this was it. This was my opportunity. I was emotional when she (O’Shea) showed me the location.”

She could picture her once hobby moving into a location outside her house and giving this a try as a job. Her next move was to work with Tazewell County Health Department so she knew expectations and limitations of what she could do. Rodeghiero said she was worried that there would be so much to do in order to be certified that she would not be able to do it. 

However, that was not the case. She said they were very accommodating and that she and her husband walked away knowing what to do. Baked Blessings by Lisa is 100- percent fully certified, she said. She opened the doors to Baked Blessings by Lisa in February 2017.

She has not given up her nursing career, but has scaled back.

“I’ll never fully walk away from nursing,” Rodeghiero said. “But I now work one day a month at OSF (St. Francis). We are continuing to grow every month (at Baked Blessings by Lisa). It’s been a complete blessing. Some days I can’t believe I’m here.”

She makes an average of 900 to 1,000 baked goods each week for sale. Fridays are her biggest baking day of the week. Currently, she books out 6 months in advance. Pictures of her creations can be found on her Facebook page Baked Blessings by Lisa.

“I feel nervous about getting it done until I sit down with that icing bag and get started,” said Rodeghiero. “I hate saying ‘no’ to people but there is only so much I can physically do and I have a family. I always do what’s best for my family and for the business.”

Recently she hired someone part-time to help with baking, the dough press, and cake pops. The demand has continued to surprise her. Every month Rodeghiero has a seasonal treat she sells in addition to her custom orders. At Easter last year, she opened a sale online at 5 p.m. and had to shut it down at 5:13 p.m. because she had sold 6,000 products. 

One local business has a monthly standing order. Velde Ford in Pekin orders cookies for Customer Appreciation Days. Lynzie Gruden, Assistant General Manager at Velde Ford Sales, Inc., said she heard about Baked Blessings from a co-worker. 

“She’s done our children’s birthday parties and we just adored her work,” Gruden said. “When we decided to have a monthly Customer Appreciation Day at Velde Ford, we knew her cookies would be a perfect fit. Not only is her work top notch and is absolutely delicious, she’s a gem of a person. We’re blessed to have her bake for us each month.”

Rodeghiero’s business continues to grow and she said she works well over 40 hours per week.

“My customers keep me on my toes with the new things they ask me to make,” said Rodeghiero. “I hope I’m creating memories. Some of my favorite themes are for baby showers because they’re just so stinking cute. I did a Strawberry Shortcake order. You can’t go wrong with Strawberry Shortcake. Cookies have been a healing process.”