La Crosse Local

E. 233: Leah Hammes | Sugar Mama

Listen to “E. 233: Leah Hammes | Sugar Mama” on Spreaker.

I find myself liking a really chewy cookie…moist, chewy, thick…you wouldn’t think that cookie making is an intensive process, but it really is…a lot of experimenting…

We got Leah Hammes of Sugar Mama on the phone, Leah is serving some sought after homemade cookies all around the area. We talk about the origins of the business, favorite flavors, covid and the business, what’s next for this busy baker.

La Crosse Local is proud sponsor of the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival.

Amy Gabay 00:01
La Crosse Local is proud to be a sponsor of the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival brought to you by Ultra Federal Credit Union. We invite you to celebrate music, cuisine, artists, makers, brewers and distillers in the new La Crosse Center Riverside ballroom. Musical entertainment includes Dan Sebranek, Three Grimm, Tugg, the Remainders, Greg Hall and the Wrecking Ball and the Tripping Billies, the nation’s most renowned Dave Matthews tribute band. La Crosse Winter Roots Festival is presented by the La Crosse Center, La Crosse Local, and with special thanks to the Remainders. Find out more information and how to get tickets at We got Leah Hammes of Sugar Mama on the phone. Leah is serving some sought after homemade cookies all around the area. We talked about the origins of the business, favorite flavors, COVID and the business, and what’s next for this busy baker. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 01:09
I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 01:10
And this is La Crosse Local.

Leah Hammes 01:12
I am Leah Hammes. I was born in La Crosse, I am a La Crosse native. How did I get into baking? I’ve always been a pinch hitter baker like I’ve always been, you know, family events. Try birthday cakes for the kids for their birthdays. I’m always trying to like do different things and try to impress people with certain flavors and recipes. So basically this all started though with my kids are six and three and they went back to school. And I don’t like housework. So I basically was like, hey, what can I do to avoid doing laundry? So I basically was baking and put it out there like hey, anybody want some delicious cookies? Like, here we go. And then it kind of just blew up overnight. Like it was crazy. I was not expecting that I mean. I’m a stay at home mom, so I’ve got time to do that stuff. But it just yeah, it kind of just blew up. And here we are today. Here I am Sugar Mama. So.

Brent Hanifl 02:19
So when was the step like was it a few months ago? Or a couple years ago? When did Sugar Mama actually go from that, just kind of doing it for friends and family to doing this?

Leah Hammes 02:29
Literally September. So when I kind of started and people, friends and family, it’d be like, hey, can you bake for this? Hey, can you give me cookies, and then I would do it. And then it kind of like word of mouth. And then I started a social media account for it. And it kind of just yeah, like, overnight. Everybody asks me all these questions. And I’m like, I have no idea because this is literally also new to me. I mean, my family and my in laws and everybody, they’re business owners. And I’m basically like, I don’t know, I took that I took a step back from whatever I was wanting to do and I became a stay at home mom. Because I had two kids and daycare is super ridiculous in that area. And yeah, I didn’t really have a path. Like I had no idea of what I wanted to do. And it was kind of scary. So yeah, then I got into this and it just blew up. And yeah, it’s been crazy. It’s been a whirlwind.

Brent Hanifl 03:25
For someone just kind of jumping into this and just finding out about you. What are some of your favorite flavors that you’d like to create? You know, I see some with some looks like fruity pebbles, some are iced. I mean, just a whole variety of different cookies. What are some of your favorites?

Leah Hammes 03:40
Yeah, so I’m OG chocolate chip. I love chocolate chip. Yeah. And I don’t like, everybody has their particular what they like about a cookie. And I find myself liking like a really chewy cookie. I don’t like hard biscuit like cookies. And I mean some people it’s really crazy. You get into like this, this avenue and industry. And you get so many opinions on what everybody likes. Everybody has their childhood, you know what they prefer in a cookie? And you can’t please everybody, but I think the consensus has been overall super positive. Most of my cookies are yeah, just very, like moist, chewy, thick. Yeah, and it’s an intense process. Actually, you wouldn’t think a cookie making would be an intense process, but it actually is there’s so many steps to it to create like an actual decent cookie. There’s a lot of experimenting but yeah, getting back to the question though, because I get off on these little side quests. Chocolate Chip, chocolate chip would be one of my favorites. Fruity Pebble has been like a second. That’s kind of like, everybody’s favorite is like the fruity pebble. It’s amazing. Fruity pebble white chocolate. I mean, the fruity pebbles are baked into the cookie. You just can’t get much better than that, so.

Brent Hanifl 04:56
I think it’s just more common now for people to come this kind of no contact. You know, people come and pick stuff up from people’s houses that they purchase. A lot of different kind of home baking businesses blowing up around La Crosse. How did COVID effect your business? Was it something that some ways helped it? Or what was that experience like?

Leah Hammes 05:14
I think it pretty much helped it. And I like to consider myself an introverted extrovert. So like, the positive about COVID has been that I can like talk to people, but I don’t have to. Like I love people. I love and I have no problem having a full on conversation with somebody. But like, I like takeout and like all that stuff like they leave it at the door. Awesome. You know, it’s not like the weird small talk or whatever. But I’ve overall had like a really good I’ve been handing my cookies off to most of the people and getting to meet them and you know, see their faces, which has been really awesome. But yeah, like if I’m, if I’m running out because I still am a stay at home mom, I’m full time. If I got to go pick up kids or I’ve got an event because they’re getting older, they’re in like, freakin events every night. I just kind of set it out on my stoop. And I kind of inform them like, hey, it’s out there and they come and take it. It’s been really awesome. It’s been a very smooth process. So I think that’s up to people their expectations to like they prefer you know, for the most part contactless you know, you like set it out there and whatnot. I don’t know it’s been it’s been pretty easy. It makes things a little bit easier. So yeah, introverted extrovert. I, yeah. I love talking to people. And I will have a conversation, but I also enjoy contactless.

Brent Hanifl 06:44
With this business now, what are you excited for? For the, you know, the next year or two? Is there some kind of thing coming down the road? Are you just going to kind of keep sending out cookies? Or what’s the very next steps?

Leah Hammes 06:56
Well, it’s just absolutely like, it got way bigger way quicker than I thought it would like, absolutely insane. So and then I got a logo and then I got all these things. And I don’t know, I’m kind of like a go with the flow. Like, if you were to ask my sister in law, like she’s very, like, let’s plan this, let’s do that. And I’m always like, 15 minutes late, like always, like, hey, what can I grab from the store, and I’m trying to get better, but I’m so go with the flow that I will just kind of see where things go. I don’t know. I’m kind of been meeting with, you know, certain people or whatever, to get things aligned up and straight and narrow, like on the business side of things, but I think I’m doing pretty good right now the way I am. I don’t want to get too big for my britches, you know, and then crash and burn. But also, it’s like, I don’t know what you think like, hey, is this my five minutes of fame? Should I just like, keep this momentum going? Should I just keep on this train? I don’t know. I know, somebody could open their own home bakery and make better cookies than me, you know? So it’s like, I don’t know. I don’t know, what should I do? So I’m just kind of taking it day by day and giving people some dang good cookies. And, you know, just kind of seeing where things play off. And, yeah, I don’t, I just go where the wind takes me.

Brent Hanifl 08:15
Speaking of that, you know, providing people cookies, how do people order?

Leah Hammes 08:20
So yes, so I am 29 years old. And I am so technologically disadvantaged, I don’t know anything about anything. I feel like I am eight years old when it comes to all this technology, social media marketing. So I’ve had a really awesome friend Kathleen, who helped me out with Instagram, with all of that stuff. And she’s going to be creating a website to make ordering a little bit easier. But right now I have a jot form. And it’s linked to in under my about me or the about section of Sugar Mama. And basically there you go. And you can order all the things that you want to order. And you can see menu customization. I’m kind of just working out the kinks. Like I said, this like happens so quickly. And I’m just kind of learning as I go what’s going on. But yeah, so the Jot form is how you do it and a lot of people have been asking and I maybe have not been so clear on how to order but there’s a link in the about section. And that’ll lead you to my job form where you can write all your information and see a menu.

Brent Hanifl 09:28
Sweet so people can just head over to Crosse and order some cookies?

Leah Hammes 09:35
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And like they’re gonna make you lose weight. Like they’re baked with love and lots of you know, so I mean, they taste really darn good. So I’ve had a lot of repeat customers and a lot of really good feedback, which makes me feel awesome. So it’s basically like you have to try it out for yourself.

Brent Hanifl 09:55
Yeah, love and butter, two good ingredients.

Leah Hammes 09:59
Hey, it’s hot girl summer is over, it’s fat girl fall like we’re whipping out the sweatpants like you know it’s everybody’s getting cozy. Nobody cares what you look like, eat more cookies.

Brent Hanifl 10:11
There you go, giddy up.

Amy Gabay 10:16
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like to rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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