Home-Based Cookie Company Fills Need for Local Wife, Mother and Her Community

Published Monday, August 13, 2018 at 11:24 am

By Sherrie Norris

A local wife and mother has discovered a unique way of combining her love for her family and others with a longtime hobby and passion for baking.

Teesa Klear, who lives in Boone with her husband Bill and four children, Sam (11), Carolina (10), Hudson (7) and Tyndale (2), quickly made a name for herself as a great cookie maker soon after moving to the area a decade ago.

Teesa Klear of Boone combines her love for others with a passion for baking cookies.

Today, thanks to the encouragement of friends, her small home-based cookie business, Nomad Cookie Company, is quickly gaining momentum.

Anyone who has been lucky enough to run across Teesa’s cookies at the Boone Winter Market or through the High Country Food Hub — or learned about the online ordering opportunities — has certainly become a return customer, time and time again. Offering eight different flavors of cookies — and all available in gluten free form upon request, Teesa’s Nomad Cookie Company has also recently expanded to include brownies. “Not those dense, cake-like brownies, but huge, fudgy brownies that people really love.”

The gluten-free options reflect Teesa’s concern for health issues, including those of her own family. “We have celiac concerns in our own family,” she said. “I know what it feels like, so I want to make sure that the ones I sell are not only fresh and delicious, but that they are prepared and baked in a safe environment. My kitchen and utensils are cleaned completely and special attention is given to the gluten-free baking.”

Teesa and her cookie company share an interesting history, and while her cookie-baking began thousands of miles away, her move to Boone has helped solidify her business plan.

Originally from Poughkeepsie, New York (with three years in Tokyo), Teesa met her husband, a Florida native, “in the middle,” she said, while she was a student at NC State University in Raleigh and he was in seminary nearby.

“We married and moved to China to study Chinese for four years and then worked at a non-government organization for another three,” she explained. “While we were there, and experiencing culture shock, we really wanted comfort food.”

Teesa admitted that the move came just a year into her marriage — and at a time when she didn’t know how to cook — didn’t even own a measuring spoon, she said, but she was determined to learn.

These “magical cookies” seem to find their way easily around the globe, starting from the kitchen of a humble baker in Boone.

It took some energy, patience and creative thinking, Teesa admitted, but she eventually learned that she could purchase flour by the half kilo from the local baker; they had friends ship chocolate chips from Thailand to their home in Lijiang, and they found butter at a small western food market in another city eight hours away that she packed on ice for the trip home. She also learned how to grate the palm sugar into granules, and soon began experimenting with cookie recipes on a used toaster oven. Not only was she able to eventually perfect a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, “which just became standard,” she also began teaching friends how to make them, too, including those friends who owned a restaurant and added the cookies to their menu. “I was able to teach their staff how to make the cookies. It turned into a really sweet time of sharing our home culture with our Chinese friends,” Teesa said.

They don’t really eat sweet foods there, but some were more than willing to experiment, she added. “I loved baking the cookies for any foreigners who came in, too.”

In the meantime, the Klears planned a year-long trip back to the states, but after their son, Sam, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition while here, they were unable to return to China.

“During that time, we were blessed that Bill was able to find work with Samaritan’s Purse, and I was baking cookies and giving them to friends who were helping us through it all,” Teesa said.

Those same friends encouraged her to take her cookies to the next level.

“When Dusty Stacy placed a large order of my cookies to share with his family, friends and clients at Christmas, I first had to buy a new oven, as my other one had stopped working,” she said. “And, I wanted to make sure I was official and doing everything the right way, so I was able to have my kitchen inspected and approved by the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture.”

From that point on, word of mouth became her best form of advertisement, Teesa said, and she went from selling cookies to friends, to participating in various vendor opportunities around town, becoming involved with the Boone Winter Farmer’s Market and now, her “biggest sales” are through the High Country Food Hub, an online farmer’s market sponsored by the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. “This is such a great resource for our area, in more ways than one.”

Today, The Nomad Cookie Company, named for Teesa’s earlier lifestyle of frequent moves — “never living in one place for very long until coming to Boone” — is enjoying great success from the comfort of an in-home kitchen located in rural Watauga County.”

“We’re just a short drive from the heart of Boone, which allows me to make quick deliveries, sometimes within an hour of an order.”

It has turned out to be such a good thing for her family, as well as those others who are busy and find themselves with little time to bake cookies, Teesa said. She fills orders for grandparents wanting their college students at App State to be comforted during exams, for families heading out of town on a road trip, for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions and events around the High Country area.

“It’s just a comfort food – just like your mom made,” Teesa described. “I bake fresh every time someone makes a request.

I use an Artisan Kitchen-aide mixer and do everything in small batches —usually 24 at a time. Scooping out the dough takes the longest of anything in the process. That’s part of the charm of it, too. It’s not like a machine or a huge mixer is doing the work for me. I think it makes a difference in the taste, too.”

Creations from the Nomad Cookie Company clearly represent the love that comes from the baker herself, as proceeds from the sales help fund foreign mission work.

Whether locally delivered or shipped to the Philippines and beyond, as frequently happens, the Nomad Cookie Company might not be an exciting story, Teesa said, “But it works for us.”

With her husband serving on the China Ministry Team through Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with an office in Boone, her children in Grace Academy two days a week and homeschooled three days each week, Teesa enjoys the flexibility of her home-baked business.

“I don’t allow the children to put their hands on the cookies, but they might help me package them or put stickers on them,” she said.

When asked what makes her cookies so special, Teesa replied, “They are savory and sweet at the same time, a little bit saltier than most cookies; crispy on the outside, but they stay gooey on the inside for several days, providing a good texture in your mouth.”

The main thing, this humble baker described, is the fact that she uses only fresh ingredients — “no preservatives.” And, she added, hopefully, they create a feeling of nostalgia and remind older people, especially, of what their moms made when they were kids. “They are just cookies, but for some reason, they seem magical.”

And, yes, Teesa is the only one who knows the recipe. “I don’t have it written down anywhere. It’s just in my head and heart.”

What is her vision for the future, we asked? “I have taken a business class at the library through Caldwell Community College and I do have a business plan,” she responded. “In five years, potentially, I might like to have a store front, but for right now, I’m happy where I am. I don’t want to compete, I just want to make people happy. Who knows where God will lead us? It’s a good start, but for us, it’s God first, family second and everything else, cookies included, comes after that.”

Presently, 10 percent of proceeds from the cookie sales goes to (overseas) mission work, “helping to support our friends and special needs.” The remainder, she said, goes to fund the children’s needs. “And other things they help identify.”

For more information or to place your order, visit www.nomadcookieco.com.

Email nomadcookieco@gmail.com

Or call (828) 783-0633.

 

 

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