Languages are expressed in unique ways. The pieces we give are often deeply personal. These gifts don’t go looking for appreciation, but deserve it all the more. Rarely though, will everyday people be waiting in line for it. For Hillary Smith, the line starting at her porch goes on for miles.
The hype? It’s cookies. A frosted sugar cookie business to be exact, aptly named “Hills Wild Flours.”
At first glance, the sensation around Hillary’s gift appears to be nothing unordinary. A small town girl getting some serious local attention. After all, she operates out of a home style kitchen, located in the countryside just outside Astoria. It might fool you, but don’t let it. Smith likes to keep things humble, but she’s got orders ranging in the high hundreds coming from all around the state.
Her clients don’t seem to care what neighborhood the cookies come from, as long as it’s Hillary Smith making them. As she gains recognition across the Northwest, many desperately want to know more about this woman taking in huge orders. Who is this empowering entrepreneurial woman? Hillary, who goes by Hill, agreed to sit down with us and answer the community’s questions.
“Besides cookies, I’m just a mom,” smiles Hill.
It all started with realtor Heidi Stackhouse, a close friend of Hill. Smith was having some fun with a batch of cookies. It was her usual excellence in both flavor and presentation. Proud of her work, she shared a picture with Stackhouse. Her realtor friend was impressed and convinced Hill to bake for her real estate clients. Stackhouse began featuring the cookies during estimates and open houses around the region. The requests for cookies trickled in from there.
Previously, Hill only baked for friends, loved ones and herself. She was unsure of the task at first, almost laughing off the idea of her cookies being a hit with people she didn’t even know. There was no big publicity when the business took off. As people shared the cookies, word of mouth buzzed with “Hills Wild Flours.” All Hill had to do was meet the demand.
“Real butter and real vanilla equals a big mess,” laughs Hill.
Touring the kitchen at “Hills Wild Flours,” we got to taste some of the work. When we gobbled through the frosting and hit cookie, it became clear why they’re so popular. The texture was soft and comfortable. Almost pillowy without being doughy, but still fully realized with a crumbly breakaway. Sugar cookies are traditionally thin and somewhat brittle, but Hill’s denser approach creates a new experience. It’s an enjoyable result. The thickness is never overbearing and one wonders why more sugar cookies aren’t like this.
Flavor was a surprise as well. We discovered a hint of lemon in the batter. It really adds an extra touch, elevating the cookie from a guilty pleasure into something genuinely refreshing.
“Business has picked up,” says Hill. “With twenty or thirty dozen per week on average, this isn’t slowing down.”
It’s true. Hill’s husband, Cody Smith, made an interesting observation. December was a spike in the books, but it wasn’t a holiday spike. There were hardly any Christmas orders. Which meant business was booming regardless.
“I’ll have to move somewhere in town,” says Hill. “I’d like it to stay small, keep it more personal with that homemade touch.”
With the move on the horizon, it’ll put a few other difficulties behind her as well. Making twelve batches of dough per hour doesn’t couple well with her mom duties. It’s Hill’s poise and resolve making it all work. Still, she looks forward to a real bakery with commercial equipment.
It’s been a fast-track learning process since the day her cookies went viral. She works seven days a week, even getting up as early as five. We wonder how she does it, – a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur. For Hill, it all comes down to one thing.
Hill reveals, “I first started baking right out of high school. If you ask any of my family members, I’ve always been this sort of great grandma. I’m an old soul and I give my love in food form.”