Jessica Genaw is one of those people. Those enviably ambitious pandemic-born entrepreneurs who, against all odds, saw Michigan’s shelter-in-place orders as a silver-lining opportunity to launch a passion project out of her home office.
A graphic designer by trade, Genaw worked as a litigation designer, creating presentations to educate juries in court. “I always felt a bit stifled doing that work,” she says. For nearly four years, Genaw dreamed of a business that would allow her to tap into her creative energy, but balked at the idea of giving up the financial stability of her day job. Last July, the decision was made for her when Genaw was laid off from the company she’d been employed by for more than a decade. “I thought, ‘This is the push I needed to go for it,’ ” she says.
Genaw spun the layoff into a positive and used her newfound spare time to launch Cookette, a boutique online retailer offering coffee-table cookbooks and specialty kitchen items. The brand gives Genaw the opportunity to combine her eye for design with her passion for food and entertaining. “Collecting beautifully designed cookbooks, cooking, and entertaining have always been hobbies of mine,” she says. “I knew I wanted Cookette to be part independent cookbook store with a focus on gifting.”
At Cookette’s website, shopcookette.com, customers can find a range of home goods, including a collection of nearly 60 coffee-table cookbooks; hand-molded taper candles; and a Baharat spice blend featuring notes of rose petals and fresh black peppercorns.
There are also themed gift sets curated by Genaw. “I have a huge interest in cooking in different cultures, so that weighs heavily on the concept,” she says, touting the Middle Eastern Culinary Passport inspired by Eden Grinshpan’s Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day (Clarkson Potter; 2020) as one of the sets she loves most. “Most of us don’t have the luxury of time or money to travel to these places, but we can connect to them through food.”
These days, Genaw’s travels mostly entail getting lost in cookbooks centered on far-flung destinations and strolling to her favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Madcap Coffee Co.
“I start every day with an Iced Miel at Madcap — it’s the honey cinnamon latte and it’s really good,” she says. “Then I walk around the city for about an hour, and that’s my version of a commute before I come back to my apartment and work!”
The minimalist setting at Madcap adds to the allure for this design hunter, who says, “I just don’t want to be anywhere that’s not beautiful.”
More of Jessica Genaw’s Favorite Eateries in the Detroit Area
Grey Ghost Detroit
“I love this place so much. Their cheeseburger is life changing and it’s really hard for me to not order it when I’m there. I think it’s because it’s like a gourmet Big Mac. I like the thin patty and the dill sauce is so special” Grey Ghost Detroit, 47 Watson St., Detroit; 313-262-6534; greyghostdetroit.com
“I love a lot of our local bars. Candy Bar is so beautiful. It’s a great place to bring people from out of town. And obviously, you just feel like you’re in a jewelry box.” Candy Bar, 1509 Broadway St., Detroit; candybardetroit.com
“I was really sad when Lady of the House closed, because of those pancakes but now they’re at Karl’s. I’m not even that much of a sweet breakfast person, but those are so special. There’s a smoky element that gives them this bacon flavor, which is like magic.” Karl’s, 1509 Broadway St., Detroit; 313-855-2757; karlsdetroit.com
“Everything about Olin is awesome. The short rib is really good. I’m glad that it’s close by my apartment.” Olin, 25 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-774-1190; olindetroit.com
This story is featured in the September 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.