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Pandemic pivot from dog groomer to cookie maker

Chelsea Walsman had been a certified dog groomer for years. Then, in the middle of the pandemic, she decided to start designing, baking and decorating cookies.

FORTVILLE, Ind. — Chelsea Walsman had been a certified dog groomer for years. Then, last October, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to ditch the dog groomer gig to start designing, making, baking, decorating and selling cookies. Yes, cookies. 

"I got to a point where I thought, 'I don't know when this (pandemic) is going to end, and I don't know what the future is going to look like,'" Walsman said. "So I can either just go for it, or I can just wait for this to end. But at that point, I felt like no end in sight, so I thought, 'Let's do it!'"

During her downtime during lockdown, she found herself watching "The Great British Baking Show." That inspired her to start cooking, which moved into baking cookies, which moved into designing cookies, which moved into her selling her cookies. That became a new career. 

"I thought, 'I'm going to be an amazing cake decorator!'" Walsman remembered before admitting, "I was terrible at cakes. They were dry, they were ugly and I was really discouraged. So I decided to try cookies, and I thought, 'I might be onto something here. These taste a lot better!' And they definitely look a lot better than my cakes did. The icing is a royal icing, so it dries hard. But it's a really nice, soft buttery sugar cookie, which tastes really good."

Now, this new cookie career has her selling hundreds of specially designed sweets and treats weekly from her Fortville home. 

"I would like to maybe have a storefront someday to do cookie classes and birthday parties for kids who love to bake and decorate," Walsman said. "I'm having so much fun doing this. I just feel like the sky's the limit with it."

Walsman took a chance, but she's not alone. According to a Forbes survey, there are now thousands of "pandemic pivoters" who are looking to change their careers amid a new economic climate. That study found 61 percent of women were planning a career pivot during the pandemic.

"I never thought, less than a year into this, that it would be this way," Walsman said. "I just feel so honored to wake up and truly do something that I love every day."

If you would like to order some cookies from Chelsea, you can find her on Instagram at @CookieGiftsByChelsea.