Sweet On Business
It all goes back to the chocolate chip cookies. Carly Ogren ’14 was seven years old when her dad showed her how to bake them. Little did he know, he wasn’t just showing her how to use cup measures and blend ingredients. He was planting a seed, which since has bloomed into Sweetly Entwined, Ogren’s online baking business that specializes in gluten-free goodies.
Ogren is a business management major, as well as co-captain of the WC women’s swimming team who this year was named to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll. She started focusing her baking skills on gluten-free when she had to cut wheat from her diet for a couple of years. Wheat gluten isn’t an issue for her anymore, but while it was, she learned a great deal about alternatives to wheat flour and the burgeoning gluten-free industry. While Sweetly Entwined specializes in gluten-free, Ogren also bakes wheat-based goods as well.
“It has given me a different perspective, not just on dietary needs or how the baking process works, but how to adapt different recipes,” Ogren says. “To me it came naturally to be able to substitute flours without affecting the taste of what I was baking. And this summer I finally realized it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And, it has further educated me on the growing food industry.”
At first, Ogren just baked because she loved it, all the while nurturing the idea of a storefront bakery someday. She would bake for friends’ birthdays or special events, and she did a bake-a-thon to raise money for Washington College’s Relay For Life. Last summer, she was interning at Benchworks, a marketing firm in Chestertown, when her co-workers started encouraging her to accept money for her work. Now, Sweetly Entwined is based on online sales, marketed chiefly through word of mouth and social media. Ogren’s senior capstone project is a formal plan for the bricks-and-mortar business where she’ll bake both gluten-free and regular goods. “I want to have both options, so anyone can come in.”
And her favorites? Well, the cinnamon buns are delicious, as are her signature flourless chocolate cupcakes. But still, it comes down to the chocolate chip cookies. “There’s so much history and sentimental value in those,” she says, “so much connection.”