Amber Spiegel has turned her passion and talent for cookie decorating into an online empire. From her studio in Kingston, her stunning creations reach millions of followers and have been featured in publications and websites like Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle, The Knot TV, The Huffington Post, and Better Homes and Gardens. In 2017, she made the Forbes list of top influencers.
Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
Hi! I’m Amber Spiegel and I am a cookie decorator and content creator living in Kingston, NY. My passion for creating edible art is what helped me turn my hobby into a career.
When I’m not working, I’m running after my daughters, Olive (3) and Sidney (7 months).
How did you discover the Hudson Valley?
I grew up here! I lived in Rosendale until I went to college in 2001. My parents moved to Kingston around that time to be closer to my dad’s work, Spiegel Architectural Woodworks (or SAW Moulding for short). I bounced around the country a little bit before coming back to settle in the Hudson Valley.
Walk us through a typical day.
I drop the kids off at daycare around 8:30. My cookie studio is located in my home, so bringing the kids to daycare and picking them up are usually the only times I get out of the house during the week!
After drop-off, I come back to the studio and tackle my to-do list for the day. Ideally, I’ll work on a cookie decorating tutorial first thing in the morning, but sometimes I have to sit at my computer and answer emails or do administrative stuff like QuickBooks.
Once I’m finished filming a tutorial and taking photos of the cookies, I send the files off to my editor, Ian. I also send him the written instructions so he can caption the video. I’m able to spend way less time in front of the computer since he started editing for me!
While Ian is editing the latest video, I’ll work on writing a blog post to go along with a video tutorial that was filmed and edited the week before.
The tutorial is then posted on my blog, my YouTube channel, my Facebook page, my Instagram account, and my newly launched Patreon. Every platform gets a different version of the video and I write slightly different copy for each, so this part takes quite a while.
At some point during the day I’ll tear myself away from work to eat lunch. My workday is done at 4:15 when I leave to pick up the kids.
Before I met my husband and we had our daughters, I was working well into the evenings, seven days a week. These days I’m lucky if I get 28 hours in, so I have to make every minute count!
What do you think it is about your work that’s made it so resonant with so many people?
So many people have written to me to say that they don’t even bake but they watch my videos just to relax! I think my videos fall into that “satisfying” category, so they appeal to a wide audience.
Do you have a go-to coffee or beer order, and from where?
Rough Draft has great coffee and a little area with a basket of books for the kids to read, so we like to go there on weekends. They have a different flavored latte every month (cereal milk latte shown here), so I’ll usually try one of those or just get a coffee with lots of room for cream.
Where do you do your best creative work?
I do my best creative work in my cookie studio. Before I worked from home, I was renting a space in the Shirt Factory. I loved it there! But after having my first daughter I decided I wanted to move my studio into the house. We had an addition built in the summer of 2018 and now I have a little cookie haven with its own kitchen, an area for filming, storage for all of my cookie tools, and an office in the corner.
How has the Hudson Valley influenced or impacted your creative work?
Being so close to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park was and still is beneficial to my career as a cookie decorator. I graduated with a degree in baking and pastry in 2007 and just last year I taught a cookie decorating class there as part of the CIA Foodies program.
The scenery in The Hudson Valley has inspired some of my cookie art, like my fall sunset cookies. There was a time when I was living in Kingston and commuting to a rented studio in Beacon (where I lived for about 2 years) which gave me the opportunity to see a lot of beautiful sunsets during my drive home.
What’s surprised you most about living and working in the Hudson Valley?
The thing that has surprised me most about living in the Hudson Valley is how much I love it. I took it for granted when I was growing up and couldn’t wait to get out of here! Living in other parts of the country made me appreciate this area so much more. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
What do you hope to see from the Hudson Valley creative and culinary scene in the next five years?
As our area becomes an even more popular destination over the next five years and beyond, I hope that the creative and culinary scene in the Hudson Valley will continue to cater to locals as much as it does tourists.
Anything you want to plug or promote?
I wrote a cookie decorating book that’s printed locally and is available in my shop: https://sweetambs.myshopify.com
I also have a line cookie decorating kits. They’re great for those who want to try their hand at cookie decorating but don’t want to invest a ton in tools and ingredients: https://globalbelly.com/collections/sweetambs