From all the great press and reviews you’ll see on Lisa’s Cookie Shop website, you might think the company name is a quaint descriptor for a secretly big operation. You know, like how elves make Keebler Cookies.
Quite the opposite. It really is “Lisa’s” shop. And the shop is a commercial kitchen, attached to her home, in which Lisa herself makes all the cookies.
Recently I had the chance to visit Lisa – on the weekend in which she and her family were furiously producing and packaging cookies for the 2010 Emmy’s gift bag.
It was a made for reality TV moment: Over a thousand cookies, all nighters, and in laws assisting in the production. The cookie? “The Kitchen Sink,” a crispy yet chewy oatmeal cookie laced with chocolate chips, cranberries, and other tidbits. In other words, one of those “healthy snacks” you can justify even for breakfast.
The Emmy gift bag recipients will be enjoying a cookie that Lisa originally made for family gatherings, throwing in whatever she had in her kitchen. Today this cookie is shipped nationwide and has a loyal following in her local town on down to Manhattan.
Food Business Tips from Lisa’s Experience
Product Offerings Tip: “Don’t try to please everyone.”
Lisa started out with options to customize the cookies in lots of ways, along with a number of cookie flavors.
When it’s just you, and you’re starting small, it’s hard to make dough for every order and tweak it. Go with crowd pleasers. Consider how well they travel and shelf life. Test new products at local stores or include samples when you ship a package.
Packaging Tip: When you’re just getting started it’s a big decision to pre-print packages. You’re locked into the flavors and ingredients. If any small thing changes, you’re out the investment. On the other hand the cost and labor of producing and applying many labels can add up. There are always tradeoffs.
The proud (and relieved) Cierello family gets ready to deliver to the post office. They’d given the post office a heads up the packages were arriving.
Shipping Tip: Shop around for different delivery options and consider how to minimize the number packages to greatly reduce shipping costs. You can often tape FedEx boxes together for example.
Do you have a small food business? Please share any other tips from your experiences.