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Hairstylists Start Custom Baking Company With An Edge

By Serena Dai | January 24, 2013 12:35pm | Updated on January 24, 2013 3:37pm

LAKEVIEW — Don't let the tattooed ladies behind Bad News Baking fool you with that name. 

Jenna Kockler, a 25-year-old with hot pink hair, and Tracey Gustave, a 29-year-old with lips painted fire engine-red, are as sweet as the chocolate-topped sugar cookies they make. 

Bad News Baking offers custom baking with a punk rock look and — just as importantly — with a rustic and homey taste. From zombie Hello Kitty cake pops to sugar cookies shaped like skulls, the ladies love decorating and baking goodies with a flair, which they sell online through badnewsbaking@gmail.com and Facebook.

"We don't do the straight and narrow very well," Kockler said. "We don’t want to scare people off with 'bad news' because it’s also very sweet, too."

Gustave and Kockler said they came up with the "bad news" name based on their challenging childhoods and their wild early 20s — but they've since grown up and embraced their sometimes troublesome pasts.

"We've both gone through a lot of trials and tribulations in our lives," said Gustave, whose nickname used to be "Bad News Tracey."

"Now we're taking ["bad news"] and putting a positive spin on it."

The two hairstylists at Lakeview salon Sine Qua Non, 3417 N. Lincoln Ave., make a living doing hair, but said baking is a newfound passion.

The women met at a house party eight years ago and have worked together at Sine Qua Non for about six years. When they started a tradition of baking festive Halloween cookies, they realized they liked the gratification they felt when people ate their baked goods similar to the satisfaction of helping people with hair, but with less talking.

"You’re still making people happy, but without having to give so much of yourself away," Kockler said.

Kockler said she loved the elaborate decorating involved, and Gustave loved finding flavor combinations in the baking. The dream is to someday open a bakery, catering business or dessert bar.

Already, Bad News Baking treats are available at Fuel, a farm-to-table restaurant in Wilmette. And starting this week, the two move their headquarters from Gustave's Logan Square apartment kitchen to a bigger, shared community kitchen in Bucktown owned by a hair client.

"This is our salvation now, the baking," Gustave said.