So much more goes into the baked goods that fill the cases of De Colores Cookies y Más than just sugar, flour, and butter. One bite of owner Ely Rooney’s beautifully decorated cookies or traditional Mexican treats and it is possible to taste the love and care that went into each one. The cute brick-and-mortar on Clinton Street in Binghamton is a bakeshop heavily influenced by the traditional panadería in Mexico.
Ely worked in the food and restaurant industry for nearly twenty years when she decided she wanted to take a step away from someone else’s kitchen and into her own. Six years ago, after baking and hand-painting a batch of cookies for a friend, Ely found herself self-teaching new techniques, launching an Etsy shop, and welcoming her husband Brian home in Savannah, Georgia with a bottle of champagne and a new business right out of their home kitchen.
While De Colores Cookies y Más began in Georgia, the bakery didn’t find a permanent location until Ely, Brian and their four children moved to Binghamton. According to Ely, “Binghamton was never even on our radar, we had never heard of it before the University offered Brian his position, but we’ve always been adventurous. We packed up the kids in ten days and moved from Savannah to Binghamton, and it was a great decision for us.” Ely often speaks about the sense of community and welcoming that she was met with upon moving to Broome County, for both her family and her business. Starting by renting a space in a commercial kitchen, Ely began to sell her baked treats in a pop-up store format on Binghamton’s North Side where they first lived before buying a home on the West Side.
“We’ve rented a number of apartments and houses, but this is the first house that we have owned. We are hoping to stay and plant roots here; we feel at home here. We feel safe, our young kids can walk to school, and diversity is really starting to bloom here, which is why I haven’t shrugged away from my heritage and my culture,” Ely says.
De Colores Cookies y Más is known for their intricately designed custom cookies thanks to Ely’s dedication to detail, however, more importantly, it also serves as an introduction into Mexican culture for the community. The “y Más” part of the bakery’s name encompasses all of the other goods that owner Ely whips up in the kitchen including tamales, empanadas, and hand rolled tortillas for tacos. For Ely, it is important to keep her heritage alive and keep these foods here in the community, making them as authentic as possible. She hopes to continue exposing the community to Mexican culture as she rolls out new treats such as her beloved conchas, a Mexican sweet bread, or marranitos and polvorones, two other popular Mexican cookies.
When not filled with her own creations, however, De Colores Cookies y Más shares the case with other local bakers and small businesses. When Ely first opened the brick and mortar on Clinton Street in November 2019, she did so alongside her partner at the time, Morgan from Upstate Grain, with the goal to revitalize Antique Row and lift up the other small businesses part of their community.
“This is a collective,” Ely says, “I want the light to shine on everybody. These are people and products that I believe in. We want to bring in other small businesses out there, boost the antique stores where we bought all of our furniture and pass each day. If you dig a little deeper in this community, you can find some real gems.”
Ely often refers to some of these small businesses as micro-businesses even, and once the COVID-19 pandemic hit many needed that extra support.
“When we first moved here, I had the pleasure to meet other small businesses like myself, and being the true southerner I am, I have kept in touch with everyone. Out of the pandemic, a lot was born. I had a fire in my belly, and I was so stubborn that I didn’t want to let this place go. I fought too hard to get this space and I wanted to be able to keep it and give other small businesses in our community a platform to be able to thrive.”
From this De Colores Cookies y Más started Springtime on Clinton Street. Alongside their new partners Milk + Ice, De Colores Cookies y Más invited customers to come out on Saturdays to visit Antique Row and gave different businesses each week an opportunity to sell their goods. The customers would be able to come out and safely support a variety of amazing small businesses. Ely believes that if a business owner has a good and helpful attitude, not only will they find success, but they will also help other small businesses find success as well, and that is exactly what De Colores Cookies y Más and Milk + Ice set out to do.
For Ely and her family, the concept of a good life is having that strong sense of community, somewhere to grow and expand not only business wise, but a community in which they feel welcomed and safe. Originally from Texas, Ely proudly embraces her southern hospitality and gives off the same warm, welcoming energy her and Brian were first met with when they moved to Binghamton. They believe that getting to know your fellow neighbor and the people around you is taken for granted by many these days and have found the good life here in Broome by incorporating their family into their community, being as welcoming as possible, and building up not only the small businesses in the area, but other community groups that are around them, too.
As proud homeowners on Binghamton’s West Side, Ely and Brian have opened up their porch to Binghamton Porchfest, a community music festival, and have hosted countless band shows in their backyards with local acts, including their son’s band The Droogz. When not enjoying the music with their family, they take time when Ely rents out the bakery case to visit the different parks and nature trails across Broome County like Chenango Valley State Park or the Nature Preserve at Binghamton University. Many question their choice to move from the south based on weather alone, but Ely remarks having grown up in the heat and humidity of Texas, she welcomes the four seasons that Broome County offers.
“We have truly found the good life here in Broome County and are set on placing our roots here. We have made such beautiful friendships between our neighbors and the small business community, we consider them family. We can build a life here and more importantly our kids can build a life here, too.”
Learn what goodies De Colores Cookies y Más is offering each week on their social media and check out their website for custom and catering orders. Be sure to visit them and their partners Milk + Ice at 81 Clinton Street in Binghamton.
Ely Rooney and De Colores Cookies y Más are a part of why #BroomeisGood