March 13, 2013
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.
We began organically out of a simple question and a curiosity in the response. Creatively stifled after 10 years of working in punk rock music and magazine PR, I fantasized about starting a food business. The perfect opportunity arose when I was asked to open a small cafe in the lobby of my children’s school. All of a sudden, things were happening. Lines started forming for my $1 chocolate chip cookies that I had spent a year creating. One day, a cookie-fan-mom asked me if I could recreate the “cookie,” for her five year old daughter, who had celiac disease. She said that most gluten free cookies “sucked.” My quest began. I dumped thousands of dollars on every variety of gluten free flour. I baked, burnt and tossed hundreds of hockey-pucks masquerading as cookies – Until one day, I hit it! We began baking in my kitchen, grew to a commercial kitchen, then a co-packer and now we are looking at working with a bakery that can make 1,000 cookies per hour!
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT?
We grew organically out of a need. Every decision since then has been based on how we can produce our cookies so that they are accessible to everyone! Artisanal New York production is incredible, but it is such a tiny slice of America. We have an all-natural gluten free cookie that is for cookie lovers of all kinds. It’s totally not a typical gluten free cookie and we don’t market it that way. My experience is, if people are really gluten intolerant, they ask or look closely at the labels and will see that it is indeed GF, but so many people love our cookies just because they are great, and I want everyone in America to have access to them! Our cookies reflect our New York City lifestyle: creative, chaotic, classy and edgy. Our product is made so that our personality can be both shared and enjoyed. Not only are we focused on providing a tasty product, but also on the experience that lasts long past the consumption of crumbs.
WHAT’S THE BEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?
Kathryn Gregory, the founder of the Entrepreneur’s Space, the innovator of food incubators in New York, called me and said, “Shira, you have an incredible product and you’re a mess. If you don’t get yourself a bakery expert who can streamline your production process, you’re going to be out of business in a year. Stop trying to be everything, and just be great at being a creator and a marketer, and let the people with experience scaling mass production help you.” Following was a snowball effect of conversations and guidance from the best of the best. We were led and taught how to create a product that is not only accessible to the general public but one that also does not run us into the ground.