During this prolonged period of isolation under stay-at-home orders, more people around the world have used the time to bake. Photos of sourdough loaves, banana breads and cookies have flooded the Internet. For Eastlake High School sophomore Joey Arens, this situation has given him ample time to advance his baking passion by growing his business and serving his community.
Founder of Joey’s Sweet Eats, Arens, 15, started baking in sixth grade, and gave his creations to friends, family and even the office ladies at the schools he attended. Using baking as a way to express himself, Arens’ passion quickly turned into something more. In 2017, with a new logo created and an Instagram feed started, his home business Joey’s Sweet Eats was born.
“Food makes you happy. You can’t be mad when you eat something delicious,” Arens said.
Arens started out baking for events at Eastlake such as the Lax Bash, as well as for the basketball, cheer and football teams. He supplied birthday parties and delivered made-to-order cake designs. From these humble beginnings, Joey’s Sweet Eats expanded in popularity in Sammamish.
“Joe has always been very philanthropic,” Jess Jajesnica, Arens’ mom, said. “He mentioned a couple years ago his goal was to ‘bake the world a better place’.”
That mantra has become a key attribute of his business. Arens has been filling orders for the University of Washington’s Police Department for several years, and now has a standing order for delivery to that police force.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, giving back to the community has become even more important for Arens. His family went into full baking mode while under lockdown. Baking supplies now fill his house. The closet is stacked with pans, tools and molds. The garage contains fifty-pound-bags of flour and sugar. His home even had a commercial-sized oven installed.
“When the stay-at-home order was announced, he started baking several times a day,” Jajesnica said.
Dropping off cookies for friends and family sparked conversations and comfort within their neighborhood, and helped to maintain that human connection even during isolation. Realizing that the drop-offs of delicious treats were making people happy, Arens and his family came up with the idea of giving back to healthcare workers.
“One afternoon we were chatting, and it was just like a light bulb went off about sending cookies to health care providers,” Jajesnica, who has worked as a nurse practitioner for 22 years, said.
Since then, hundreds of cookies have been delivered to healthcare workers and first responders in the area. Starbucks even got involved. For every cookie Joey’s Sweet Eats donates, the coffee company is giving $1 to the First Responders Children’s Foundation.
Even from the beginning of Joey’s Sweet Eats, the focus on charity was always there. At last summer’s Sammamish Farmers Market, homemade cookies from Arens were a big hit, and he donated all of the proceeds to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
“Donating to charity feeds our souls,” Arens said.
With a clear vision for what he wants to do, Arens enrolled at Lake Washington Technical College in 2019 and took a class in chocolates and confections. The class paid off when he entered different baked goods competitions at the Washington State Fair. His chocolate chip cookie dough macaron and dark chocolate salted caramel bon bons won numerous awards.
When asked about potentially entering more baking competitions, Arens said he does not love the spotlight or attention, but just wants to be in the kitchen working on more treats. Creating seems to be what he does best, and longtime customer and family friend Jenifer Beardall agrees.
“The fact that he’s so professional and talented at a young age is so impressive,” Beardall said. “Everything he makes tastes amazing.”
The future for Arens and baking could include pastry school in France, attending the Culinary Institute of America, or even a degree in business. No matter what path he takes, his passion, selflessness and gratitude will surely follow.
“No one at his age has a view like he does, that this is what he wants to do and where he wants to go,” Beardall said. “It’s extremely rewarding watching him grow, not only in maturity, but in his business too.”
To place an order from Joey’s Sweet Eats, simply message his Instagram @joeys_sweet_eats or call (425) 200-8263.