Desi Becht loves to celebrate.
"I think there’s nothing more valuable than a celebration, regardless of what the celebration is for," she said in a recent interview at her rural Marshfield home.
Becht was nominated for inclusion in the "Tag, you're it!" series by Jill Phillips, who was the first person to be featured in this series of profiles. The way it works is that we at The Mail introduce readers to someone extraordinary, and then that person suggests the next person for us to interview.
When asked for her recommendation, Phillips did not hesitate to suggest Becht, who she said was extraordinarily creative and positive.
And that seems true. Upon arriving to Becht’s home and settling in for a chat, I was greeted with a plate of the custom cookies she is best known for. One featured a hand-drawn picture of The Marshfield Mail flag, and the other had a poetry-related design, also penned onto the cookie freehand by Becht, who used edible marker as her medium.
A plate full of cookies is a propitious start for an interview.
Becht is a Webster County transplant whose father was in the military, and she said she lived a lot of places, including California and, just before arriving here, Seattle. She is married to Chad Becht, and the couple have two children, Landen, 6, and Caleb, 8.
Though she is well known in Webster County for her cookie creations, she said that when she first moved to Niangua, she found herself at loose ends.
"I didn't have a regular job," she said.
But as a new mom, she had noticed that household and baby products were full of questionable ingredients, and she started to experiment with making her own. Before long, she had started a company she called the Eco-Awesome Housewife, and through it she sold her own wholesome, homemade, chemical-free products, like her diaper rash cream and her magnesium deodorant.
There's no question that her all-natural goods would have sold like organic hotcakes on the West Coast, but they were a bit of a tougher sell in rural Missouri. And that's when Becht discovered a book that would change her life.
The book, by Jen Sincero, was titled "You Are a Badass," with the subtitle, "How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life."
"It asked the basic question, 'What would you do if you could do anything?'" Becht said.
And she realized that there was really nothing standing in the way of her doing whatever it was she wanted to do.
"I stopped everything and started making cookies," she laughed.
Well, maybe she didn’t go straight to cookies. Becht took a cake-making class in Springfield and dabbled in that for a while, and with a good deal of success, but she discovered something about herself in the process.
"I realized that I hated making cakes," she said.
As she was learning cake craft, she was also teaching herself to make cookies by watching YouTube videos.
Cookies? Those she enjoyed.
"Cakes are horrible," she said. "Cakes are such an awful thing to do."
She explained that you can never really tell if you’ve messed up a cake until you cut into it.
"If you mess up a cake, that’s the whole thing," she said.
With cookies, you can sample your product, and that's something Becht enjoyed, until health reasons forced her to give up wheat flour.
People loved Becht's cakes, even if she didn't, but then they slowly began to discover her cookies. Now Becht reports that she is busy all the time.
"I'm just doing what I love," she said. "People are just coming to me and letting me do what I love for them."
She seems to feel a little surprised at her success. She tells me she’s not a networker, but that word spread and she benefitted from it.
"I've been so lucky along the way," she said. "Word of mouth has been incredible."
Part of the secret to Becht’s success seems to be her willingness to lean in to what she loved. In the past, she gave herself pep talks and used a mantra, or she posted encouraging notes to herself.
"When cookies happened, it was like, this is where I live," she said. "It wasn't a matter of Post-its or a mantra."
Becht took art classes throughout college, and said she was always a doodler. Initially, she felt that she either wanted to be a cake maker or a tattoo artist.
In cookies, she has found her true canvas, and she gets incalculable joy from sending her cookies to a special event.
"Even though it's just a cookie, someone’s paying me to be part of their celebration," she said. "I'm not there, but I feel like I'm part of it."
It's important to Becht that her cookies be perfect in appearance and, importantly, in taste.
"There's nothing worse than a beautiful cookie that tastes like booty," she said. "If you're going to waste the calories, let's make it worthwhile."
When asked if she had any advice for people with a dream like hers, Becht's answer was immediate.
"You just have to start," she said. "Take what you have and go with it."
She added that the longer you sit and merely think about something, the longer you put off reaching your potential.
"The universe wants to help you, but you’ve got to do something," she said. "If you're doing what you love, somehow all this awesome stuff happens."
For next week's "Tag, you're it!" feature, Becht nominated another creative force in the community: Alice Bertoldie. Bertoldie’s profile will appear in the Aug. 5 edition of The Mail.