If you don’t think of Sopapilla Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies when you think of fall, that might be just what comes to mind after a visit to the In The Mix Dessert Shoppe in Wichita Falls.
Teenage baker Abigail Cardona offers this sweet concoction along with a range of baked treats that are appropriate for fall or any time of year.
Her offerings change weekly, rotating and evolving with the season and her latest creations that she has dreamed up. But the cookies in question will be available until November, as long as sales continue.
Cardona, who turns 18 this month, is the youngest member of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce. She has her baked favorites, both to recreate and to enjoy.
“I like doing the Brookies. It’s half brownie, half chocolate chip cookie,” she said. “The sugar cookies are really good for nibbling.”
Cardona rolls them in sugar before baking, and they become soft and crumbly with a coating of crystallized sugar that forms during baking.
On a recent visit to In The Mix on a late August afternoon, fall was in the air and on the shelves.
Apple Spice was the cupcake of the week, bags of harvest crunch popcorn lined the shelves, and pumpkin bread, pecan pie brownies, and mini cinnamon buns were within reach.
“Their goal is to have a new experience almost every time someone comes back, but still have the things that sell best,” mom Monica Veretto said.
This means, for example, that favorites like chocolate chip cookies are always on offer, while cupcakes rotate weekly.
In The Mix recently launched a new product, jelly donut muffins with strawberries or apricots, to satisfy customers asking for donuts. The store also sells Cardona’s hot chocolate, coffee, and cider bombs.
Cardona has aspired to be in the baking business since she was 7 or 8 years old when she was baking cupcakes to help her mom feel better after knee surgery.
“I thought this would be a lot of fun. I would like to do that. Maybe we could do a cupcake business or something,” Cardona said. “I wanted to create a place like this.”
For a time, Veretto told her she was too young to run a baking business. But Cardona kept asking, inspired by a cupcake shop they frequented together when she was younger.
“They had a little place to sit, and they had cupcakes and cinnamon rolls, and I loved going there,” Cardona said.
Her shop has a seat, board games to play and a television. She hopes to create a community of people coming to her store.
A few years after that first batch of cupcakes, things got more serious when Veretto gave her homeschooled daughter a commission: create a business plan for a bakery.
Cardona researched the cost of renting various locations in Wichita Falls, as well as prices for chairs, tables, and other items she would need for a full-fledged bakery.
“We talked about loans and loan repayments. We’ve heard of interest,” Veretto said.
The time was not yet ripe. But when Cardona was 16, she asked again.
“I’d really like to do this cupcake business,” she told her mom.
It was October 8th, 2020 and the pandemic was ongoing.
“Obviously we’d all been locked down for a while, so she baked, and I said, ‘Let’s try. You’re 16. Let’s see what happens.”
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The business was born on a Monday and on Saturday they were selling cupcakes at the farmer’s market.
“We started out as a cupcake business,” Veretto said. “It quickly morphed into more and is still growing.”
Cardona opened the storefront in May and celebrated with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon average.
“Ms. Abigail is our youngest member ever. She’s an incredibly driven and talented young woman who rock stars for parents who believe in her,” Christina Bell, COC director of membership development, said via email.
Veretto said they are still considered cottage bakers.
“Their goal is to have a full-service kitchen here so we can expand our offerings,” Veretto said.
In addition to what’s in store, In The Mix also sells cupcakes by the dozen, cobbler’s pans, cookie bowls, and other items.
“We can do catering or we can do a charcuterie board that we put the loaves on and then we put some crunch and some mini buns, cookies and fruit,” Cardona said.
One of the things she enjoys about being a baking entrepreneur is making a customer’s day with something sweet.
“She has a heart for people. She loves people and she loves blessing people,” Veretto said.
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A blessing plaque hangs on the wall of the store for customers to purchase a coupon for cupcakes or other treats and stick it on the plaque.
“So if there’s a mother who can’t afford cupcakes for her kid’s birthday or something, she can take the voucher, no questions asked. He’s already been paid,” Veretto said.
Cardona has also donated treats to nurses, firefighters and others.
“She just loves it when you show up and they don’t expect you. You show up with these plates full of cookies and cobblers,” Veretto said.
It’s just one of many ways Cardona is living up to her store’s motto: “Making Wichita Falls a little sweeter.”
In The Mix Dessert Shoppe is open Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30am to 5:30pm, Friday from 8:30am to 7pm and Saturday from 9am to 6pm. The shop is closed from Sunday to Tuesday.