FD woman turns talent for treats into new business
Liz Watnem admitted she had never thought about opening a business. She just loved to bake and create.
But once people started tasting the sweet treats she concocted, she really didn’t have much of a choice.
Watnem moved to Iowa from Arizona in 2019 and planned to be a stay-at-home mom. But during the pandemic, she began creating different desserts and sweets and gave them out to her neighbors and friends. They were a big hit.
“I was a stay-at-home mom for the longest time,” she said. “During the pandemic, the kids and I started making treats. We made hot chocolate bombs and chocolate covered strawberries and just gave them to my neighbors and people around town.
“I got a lot of good feedback and lots of people said I should start a business,” she added. “I thought there was no way. I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.”
However, people that tasted her creations began to talk and some asked about placing orders. So she decided to try it out and it blossomed into her business, Sweet Snax, now located in Fort Dodge.
“I originally started with chocolate covered strawberries. That’s my signature dish,” said Watnem. “After that, I added wedding cakes. Now I do all sorts of different types of desserts. All my chocolate items are very popular. It’s things you can’t find in stores.”
Watnem said she’s more than willing to work with customers to design whatever they can imagine and turn it into the dessert of their dreams.
It’s not just her friends and neighbors who think her desserts are delicious. She’s earned several awards for her items. She recently won a second place in the Sugary Artistry Professional Division at the Iowa State Fair for a Stiletto Red Bottom Chocolate dessert.
She first started her business at her home in Wesley and was named Entrepreneur of the Year for Kossuth County. She has also won several other awards at the State Fair in past years.
“I honestly have surprised myself,” she said. “I was just a stay-at-home mom and I didn’t realize I had these talents. When I started to get into it and I would express myself creatively, I was surprised how well I was accepted. Then I went on to win awards and that surprised me even more. And now I have people wanting to learn from me and that’s surprised me, too.”
Besides making all her creative desserts, Watnem is also offering classes to teach others how to design and create desserts for themselves. She has been offering cake-decorating classes on a regular basis. She is planning a holiday baking session several times in December, including one for both parents and children to take together.
All of her classes are held off site. She plans to have her holiday ones at the Bob Heun Shelter at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
“I have been offering classes for about a year now. They usually sell out in the first 24 hours,” said Watnem. “I really think it’s the way I teach them. I limit the amount of people, usually 10-15 max. I want everyone to feel they can ask questions and they can get individualized help if they need it. If they can’t get a technique down, I want to be hands-on and be able to help them.”
Watnem runs the entire business from her home and is the sole employee. She handles the advertising, the marketing, the ordering and the baking and, of course, the cleanup.
“I am accomplishing some major milestones and I couldn’t be happier,” Watnem said. “I have been accepted by the community and I get to help people achieve something special. For now, I am happy doing everything out of my home. Once my kids are both in school full-time, I may look into a brick and mortar store.”
Watnem has also given back to the community through her business. She works with a non-profit called Icing Smiles that connects critically ill children with bakers all around the world to offer them cakes and other sweets. She also donates birthday cakes to any child currently in the foster care program.
“I am always looking for ways to give back to the youth and the community,” she said. “I have been blessed with these talents for a reason and I love to give back.”
Watnem and her husband, Christopher, have two children.
Anyone wanting to order from Sweet Snax or wanting to register for baking classes can find all that information on her website, IowaSweetSnax.com. There is also more information and samples of her work on her website and her Facebook Page.