I arrived to this country completely on my own will, unaccompanied by any family, at the tender age of sixteen – with a dream and a crisp rolled-up $100 bill in my pocket. Landing at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on August 20th, 1993 was one of the best days of my life! My dream of coming to America finally came true! I had to pinch myself to verify that it was real. I have dreamed of coming to America since I was eight years old. I hoped and prayed for that to happen so much, that one day “the sun, the moon and the stars lined up!”  OK, that is a sugar-coated version of what happened, it took a lot of work, sacrifice and some luck, in order to make that dream a reality. Through some connections in Cleveland I had an opportunity to showcase my artwork to Hawken School, who offered me a full-ride to their fine learning establishment, based on my artistic abilities and academics. 


A week after my landing, I started school. My English language skills were average, at best. Back in Lithuania, I was one of the top English language students in my class, however that was not quite enough to delve into studies at a private school with a rigorous academic agenda. There were days I worried I would have to pack-up and go back home, that perhaps I had “bitten off more than I could chew.”  However I am not one to give-up. For three straight months my nose was stuck between a dictionary and textbooks, it was a “do or die” situation.  I finally broke-through the language barrier. I think I was quite an amusing foreign “specimen” to many of my classmates as I constantly made blunders in my efforts to improve my English. Instead of getting upset about it, I just asked them to correct me when they were done laughing, so that I would not make that mistake again. So went the painful process of acclimation, by the end of the school year I had completely lost my accent and spoke clean, almost perfect, vernacular English. Things were really looking up.  


At the end of the school year, I was very pleasantly surprised to receive the gift of a scholarship for a second year at Hawken, which meant I was to graduate from there. It was a difficult, yet pivotal decision for me and for my parents. I am an only child, and I missed my parents as much as they missed me. Together we decided to make the sacrifice of not being able to see each other yet another year, so that I could complete twelfth grade in America. 


After graduating I enrolled in Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, got married in my senior year, graduated with a B.A. in Accounting, worked in the financial services industry and became a full-time mother of three. Life was great. Yet throughout my career in the corporate world and the hectic days of raising three toddlers my true passion in life always stirred my conscience and flickered inside me just waiting to burst out. It was that same reason that afforded me the opportunity to come  to the United States in the first place: art! My need for creative expression just couldn’t be acquiesced, assuaged or calmed. 


One day, I started creating cookies for various family gatherings, holidays and birthday parties. The cookies were made in all different shapes, sizes and designs to complement each occasion. Soon everyone looked forward to and even expected me to make cookies for each gathering. My husband’s beloved Aunt Erika, herself an immigrant from Germany, shared her words of wisdom with me “Emily, you really have a gift with these special cookies you make. You ought to sell them.” I also heard similar suggestions and encouragement from friends with whom I shared my newly-discovered hobby. My answer was: “OK, sure, if you will buy them from me, I will sell them!” Thus my business “Cookie Art” was born out of my passion for art and an entrepreneurial spirit that was instilled in me by my father, who owned a travel business back in Lithuania. 



For the past six years I have been selling my designer cookies to family and friends, and also their friends and acquaintances.  I established a website, printed business cards – and the business began to snowball. I see huge potential for Cookie Art and want to share the joy of custom/designer cookies with Clevelanders and beyond. I dream of having a bakery and distribution center here in Cleveland, with many employees; hopefully many of them immigrants, who can begin to realize their American Dream at Cookie Art and write their own success story someday.