Have you ever seen edible artwork? That’s exactly what Luna of Arlo’s Cookies creates. Delectable, bite sized pieces of art, in cookie form! Growing up on a little island off the coast of Belize, Luna uses her love of color from her homeland and her current love of design, textiles and plants as her daily cookie inspiration. You can find her spending time with her family, enjoying the great outdoors, and dreaming up her next cookie design at her home in Utah.
Becoming Luna Ellis
What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?
Oh man, I feel like a hybrid of all of these! I grew up as an artist, had a career in design, I’m also a current business owner and educator! What I love most about what I do is that I get to be all of these things!
What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?
I really wanted to become a doctor, then when I realized how much school that was I designed to go the design route. 😉
Where did you grow up? Are there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?
I grew up on a teeny tiny (like realllly small) island off the coast of Belize called Caye Caulker. I had an amazing, free living childhood. Actually the bright Caribbean colors are what made me first fall in love with design and influenced a lot of my work when I was in design school.
What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?
How to be more out-going. Can that be taught?! Or public speaking.
What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from?
Go with the flow. Don’t stress over the small stuff and always remember what is really important to you in life, whatever that may be. I have so many influential women in my life and pieces of this advice are from all of them in one way or another.
What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?
I went to school for visual communications with an emphasis on design. So I always knew that one way or another I want and need to be doing something creative.
What sparked your interest in baking? What attracted you to this field?
I made a super hard decision to leave my career behind and stay home with my son, Arlo. Once day I was browsing Pinterest for 1st birthday ideas and came across decorated cookies! I looked at them and thought “I can do that” and I did! I became instantly hooked.
What are three words to describe your style?
Calm, Modern, Feminine.
What inspired you to take your baking and designs to the next level?
Shortly after started I quickly realized that decorating cookies was filling a void in me. I always had some part of design in my life from my line of work in digital marketing to my hobby of hyper realism portrait drawing. For a whole year I was doing nothing, and then I just clicked with this (as weird as it sounds). It’s like I still have the digital design that I love (when planning out sets) and the hands on creative work in the decorating that I loved about drawing.
Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?
This is a hard question, because I feel so lucky and blessed to have so many encouraging people in my life and have made so many “cookier” friends over the past two years. But if I had to just choose one person I would choose the owner of Brighton Cutters, Amanda. I connected with her early on in my cookie journey and from day 1 she has always been so encouraging and supportive.
What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?
I honestly love ALL of my cookies and each set because my new favorite. There are a few pieces that I’m really proud of though! One is a cookie based off of Gia Graham’s work. She’s an illustrator/letterer/designer and the piece says “There’s room for all of us.” I just love the meaning behind it so much.
Where do you find inspiration for new creations?
Everyday life! I’m constantly taking photos for inspiration of things I see. Textiles, wildflower fields, home decor, the list goes on! Sometimes if I’m having a hard time planning something out, I’ll just bake my cookies, mix up the icing & colors and start decorating with no plan and let my creative mind take over.
What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?
Oh man.. where do I even start? I love Amber Davenport, her use of bright colors gives me all the tropical feels which just brings back so many great childhood memories. I love Megan Warne from Downtown Dough T.O. She’s an amazing, supportive, kind human and a fellow cookie decorator & designer who lives in Canada! Also my mom, Cindy Novelo, who is a musician, yogi, and life coach. I could literally go on all day!
What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?
I don’t even know if my music is in these days, but depending on my mood you can find me listening to bluegrass, folk/indie or reggae 😀
What is the most challenging part of your work? How have you, or how do you, overcome those challenges?
Honestly, working too much. I love what I do so much that I’ve found myself just ignoring all other parts of my life and only focusing on Arlos Cookies. Being a business owner and a mama is hard! When this starts to happen I literally just will sit by myself and talk—yup, talk! I’ll remind myself what’s most important to me right now, which #1 always is Arlo and spending time with him because these years go way too fast! Then I’ll set goals for myself, like stop working by 4 pm. If I am working and Arlo asks to play, it helps to take a break and play! When my work life and real life are balanced, I find that my anxiety and stress go way down. So if I ever find myself super overwhelmed I’ll reevaluate my schedule and goals!
What are some stereotypes of your job that you wish to break?
“Cookies should be cheap.” Cookie artists are making edible art, not large batch chocolate chip cookies! They take hours and hours and lots of planning!
Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?
I feel like I’m still learning every day! As far as selling cookies go – charge your worth! A rule I live by is once I’m turning away too many orders because my schedule is full, that means it’s time for me to up my prices! I started at $4/cookie two years ago and now charge $18-22/cookie. Again, it’s not just any cookie, it’s literally edible art!
How do you deal with negativity, stress, and/or anxiety?
Disengage from social media, go on a hike, or hug Arlo!
What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year?
I started out working at home. I took over our kitchen table and our house and life started getting over-crowded with all things cookie making. Now I have my own little cookie space near downtown SLC where I can escape to, clear my mind and be creative!
How do your surroundings influence your work?
I need somewhere calm, quiet, and clutter free or my creative mind just shuts down!
Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive.
Lists! Also important to me are going for a walk and realizing when I need to take a break!
What is a typical day like for you?
Lately, I’ve been waking up and getting in a walk or workout. Then I sit and enjoy some coffee—hopefully all before Arlo wakes up! Then we’ll have a little play time before heading to the kitchen to bake, make icing etc.
Then we play some more, go on a bike ride, and have lunch! Arlo gets to pack a bag and he knows he can fill it with toys. Whatever fits he gets to bring to my studio. He’s the sweetest and will sit and play while I get some decorating work in!
Some days I have all to myself and these are usually my busy decorating days where I’m sitting at my desk decorating cookies from what feels like sun up to sun down.
How has social media influenced your work?
Without social media there would be no Arlos Cookies! Arlos Cookies first started out as an Instagram page that I created to share my cookie work so that I didn’t annoy friends/family with the constant cookie pictures. And now, thanks to Arlos Cookies’ growth on social media, I was able to turn this from hobby to business!
How do you make social connections in the creative realm?
I have to go back to Instagram again and thank this platform for all of my social connections I currently have. I’ve met so many creatives on social media that I would not have been able to connect with without Instagram!
Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?
Hmm, I like to knit! But I haven’t knitted since I took up cookie making. I was by no means great at it, but I loved doing it! And also drawing! A few years back I had the opportunity to take an intensive, week-long workshop with German artist Dirk Dzimirsky. If you don’t know who he is you have to check out his work!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?
Just go for it! If you love what you’re doing, passionate and true to yourself success will come!
What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?
Educate more! I have lots of dreams as far as educating and teaching others and I hope to one day make them all a reality!
Is there anything more you would like to “become?”
I think about this a lot actually. Maybe one day I’ll go back to school, learn more. Maybe become a nurse?!
If you love these Becoming interviews as much as we do, you can find more here! We’ve interviewed so many amazing women, and every time we feel so inspired and wowed by their lives and trajectories. If you have someone in mind that you’d love for us to interview, let us know in the comments!