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Local Mom Makes Good (Cookies, that is)!

Jeanne and son Eddie

I grew up in Hampton, Virginia. In what is now the hip section known as Phoebus. My parents used to go up to Clyde’s and play shuffleboard. If we were super lucky my dad would take us to Fuller’s for a plate of fries and some Root beers. Clyde’s is no more. Fuller’s is now reinvented as a Raw Bar on a different corner in town.

I worked in Newport News…most of you from my area and era would remember the days of Heartbreak Alley: a giant nightclub with two then three different bars contained within. I’d work there in the evenings and did an internship then some temp work at Newport News Social Services, practically in the same parking lot.

When I had my own family we relocated to the Tabb section of York County/Yorktown to raise our boys. My three sons all graduated from Tabb High. You can’t live in Tabb without popping into Poquoson for groceries or a sunset. All these places are interconnected.

When I launched a cookie cake delivery business back in 2011, I imagined we would deliver to a very small footprint around Yorktown. That quickly changed and expanded.

It makes sense that both Hampton and Yorktown are now big sources of customers for us. Certainly my initial customers were people that knew me and trusted me to follow through…and the majority of people that knew me at the time were from the places I had lived the longest.

We now have quite a bit of business from Williamsburg as well, partly because we deliver to William and Mary, but also because of our family ties to the Virginia Legacy Soccer Club that is based in Williamsburg.

Hampton Roads is my home. I like that I recognize so many names that come through on orders. I laugh that it’s the same for my team-mate, she loves telling me stuff like a sender was her “mom’s neighbor’s daughter who later helped lead Sunday school with her’. I take pride that on the rare days that I personally deliver some of our orders that I know six different routes to the same place. I am proud that my company provides and exceptional product and service to my own community. I am proud that we are also able to give back to this community in countless ways.

When you shop local you support the heart and soul of our community, and I thank you.

 

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Good Vibes

CookieText that says Good Vibes

I have a favorite ball cap. It’s got a little partial rainbow on the front and says beneath the rainbow, “Good Vibes.”

My brother Jerome was hospitalized in early June. He had a lot going on medically, so the forecast for recovery was pretty grim. I would go to see him each day and learned quickly to not have any expectations: each day was different. Most of the time he was pretty out of it, I could talk to him but he couldn’t always respond. Sometimes when he did respond I could tell he wasn’t fully ‘with it.’

One Sunday afternoon I went into see him. I had snuck to the beach for a bit prior to, and I was wearing my favorite ball cap–both to have shielded me from the sun and to hide the hot mess my hair was from being in the Bay. Jerome was talking that day, not much, but some. I was sitting by his bedside and I realized he was staring at my hat.

“Good Vibes,” he said.

“Yea, Good Vibes, that’s what my hat says,” I responded.

Jerome had been struggling with movement, so it took me a bit to realize that he was trying to reach for my hat.

“Do you want my hat?” I asked.

“I want that hat,” he said.

“Why do you want my hat?” I questioned.

He said, “Because it says, ‘Good Vibes’.”

So I surrendered my vanity and placed my hat on Jerome’s head. I gotta say, it looked fantastic on him.

That whole visit that day was the best one he and I had while he was sick. I was about to leave and was halfway to the door when he told me he loved me. I grinned big and did a little dance back to his bed to kiss him goodbye again.

Earlier this week when I picked up an order ticket and saw that someone wanted me to write “Good Vibes” on a CookieText, everything about that day and that visit with Jerome came to mind. It was a nudge from the universe reminding me of the love between my brother and me.

I believe when people we love die their love doesn’t disappear, it’s still here with us:

in the form of Good Vibes…

 

 

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Time to Stop being so Nice.

Fine. Go. CookieText

Here we are! October 3rd marks 8 years of delivering CookieTexts. I tend to sit here at the keyboard around this time of year to reflect on the past 12 months.

I still love my job.

A highlight of the year was working at a Career Fair at John Tyler Elementary  in Hampton in the Spring. I met the cutest little boy.

He asked me: “What do you like most about your job?”

I said: “Everyday, I get to help people be nice to other people.”

That’s my job in its most basic form, and I love it, but everything isn’t always so simple and every year of CookieText comes with some personal growth, too.

This year I’m learning that I need to focus all that connecting at work and to stop helping people be nice to other people in my personal life. I know, it sounds harsh, but hear me out…

For example: I typically might text my son’s Uncle to say something like, “Andrew is going to be a 4-H counselor!” in hopes that the Uncle would congratulate Andrew and make a big deal of it. Uncle would be in the loop, Andrew would be happy to be congratulated. It sounds nice right?

My child is 15 years old. If he’s going to have a relationship with his Uncle, one or the other of them needs to take the lead on that.

I think I lost a bit of myself in fostering relationships and connecting others.  I tried to be the bridge between too many people and in doing so my role in all these people’s lives was murky. I’ve had to resort back to asking myself, “what is my intention?” when I’m intervening.

Most of the time when I asked myself that, my intention was to strengthen a connection or relationship between two people fully capable of sharing that information between themselves if they chose to. By doing that kind of stuff all the time I was trying to manufacture other’s relationships for them, and maybe worse, giving people a false idea of who the other person was.

I mean if my son wishes you a happy birthday every year, you’ll think “Wow! what a thoughtful guy”…but if he does it simply because he’s told to do so by me every time, is he really that thoughtful?

And where do I stand in all these relationships I was trying to bridge? I was connecting two others, but how strong is my personal connection to each person? Do I value them? Do they value me? And if they do value me, is it genuine or simply because I’m doing their legwork?

I know, it’s a lot to think about for a cookie blog. But that’s one of my big takeaways for the year:

It’s time to keep my aiding and abetting of niceness at CookieText Headquarters.

I get to help people be nice to other people every day, and I get to do it on a deliciously personalized cookie cake…I can bake it and personalize it, I can even sprinkle and box it, but it’s not my role to place the order or to know who should say what to whom: that’s entirely up to the parties involved.

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10 Rules for Asking a Small Business to Support Your Cause

CookieText Keller quote

Nobody wants to talk about this. I don’t want to talk about this, but as Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.”

Before we discuss the do’s and don’ts of asking a small business to support your cause, let’s establish givens:

A. I love my community.

B. I am a giver by nature, so it’s tough to say no.

I think it’s pretty safe to say many small business owners are similar to me in those traits.

I run a small local business and we have seen some success. As with many businesses, there is bit of disconnect with regard to how great the public thinks we are doing versus how great my book keeper thinks we are doing;)

We participate in many events that support our community and important causes. Many of these we began supporting the year we started business. They are “grand-fathered in” so to speak.  If all we did was continue with these causes, I believe we’d be doing our fair share.

That said, events keep coming, people are always raising money for their team or their cause, and that is a beautiful thing. Because of this, we are asked multiple times each week to support various meaningful causes. It is difficult for me, who is inherently a giver, to say no. It’s also silly to say yes, as my book keeper and I see the bottom line and need to accept that this is a business, not a non-profit.

With that conundrum in mind, I think some rules for asking a small business to support a cause are in order, so if I were the rule-maker, here’s what I’d propose:

  • Don’t get offended by a no.

It’s not personal and it’s certainly not that we don’t think you have a worthy cause. We simply cannot support every cause or person.

  • If there is a form to fill out to request something, please use it.

Sometimes there are decisions to be made between selecting one thing over the other to support, it’s easier on the ones making the choices to have the same information from each organization, and a provided form makes that possible.

  • Ask nicely, without expectation.

A note attached to the form or a text message or email that says, “I’ve submitted a request online for some help for something, just want to give you the heads up. We love your business and thanks for considering.”

  • Be a client or customer.

If you have never bought our goods or used our services, please do not ask us to donate to your cause.

  • Tell us what’s in it for us.

I know that seems shallow, but we are a business, hopefully there is some way our support will translate into a bit of marketing for our company, and if there’s nothing in it for us, be real about it.

  • Don’t be offended by a lack of response to a request.

Our business is small, yet I could hire someone with the sole job of charitable giving coordinator and they could work 20 hours a week. Small business owners typically are juggling many roles in their companies, if they don’t respond please realize it’s a time thing, not a lack of care or concern for you or your cause.

  • Make it easy for us to give.

Offer to pick up, accept something via email, etc. Don’t make us have to do additional work to support your cause.

  • Share about your event socially, and tag us or take a photo with our product or donation.

Social media is everyone’s go-to. It keeps our business top of mind. We benefit from every positive post about our business.

  • Let us know how it went.

Keep us involved. Let us know afterwards how your event went, how much money you raised, the reaction of the person who got our prize, etc. Otherwise it feels like we’ve thrown something into an abyss.

  • Say Thank you.

Last, but maybe most important, please say thanks. Send an email, write out a card, mail a photo of the event with a note scribbled on the back. I have some plaques on my wall, and as nice as they are, they are NOT necessary, an email is perfect. A hand-written card is gold.  Nothing makes me less inspired to support a person’s event than zero recollection of our support being appreciated.

Okay, that’s my list, but I bet my fellow business owners have other things that are important to them when it comes to charitable giving. I invite them to chime in. Meanwhile, next time you ask a small business for help with a cause you are supporting, please consider the things I’ve mentioned, and assume the best: we want to help everyone, we simply can’t.

 

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Where do you Draw the line on Delivery?

CookieText Delivery Car

Having a delivery business is a bit of a challenge. Where do we draw the lines? Are they set in stone?

Our Southside delivery doesn’t always make sense to people. That’s because the website had to be set up by zip code. Either the zip code was in or out. For instance there’s a zip code in Chesapeake that stretches from near the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel all the way to the North Carolina border, so that’s one of them that got the boot.

That’s why I often tell people that before they accept no as an answer, email us the exact address, we will take a peek at the map, and then let them know if we can make it happen.

The Ask.

On Friday someone sent a message asking about delivering to Portsmouth.

I sent back the cookietext.com delivery zone link for them to check via their zip code if we cover that area.

They soon responded that according to the website we don’t deliver there, but they’d really like a CookieText for their spouse’s birthday.

Mind you these messages were happening during prime cookie decorating time, so forgive me, but as I actively considered my Saturday agenda and wrote at the same time, my email response was this:

Would you please provide the actual physical address so I can peek at it? Heck. Never mind. Just put it through. I’ll run it over personally.  ~Jeanne

I applied the work-around to get the site to accept the order, and they placed it right away. I was delighted to see it was a larger order, so that made going the distance a little sweeter.

The Task.

On Saturday morning, off I went to make the delivery. As I got further and further and saw it wasn’t a case of a huge zip code, this place was really far away. As I finally pulled off 664, I saw two of my favorite signs: 7-11 and Speedway. Both fantastic places to stop for a giant fountain soda on the ride home, it would be my karmic reward for going that far.

The location wasn’t far off the highway, I wound through a neighborhood of one-story homes and found theirs on a cul-de-sac. House numbers are funny, so I was thrilled that the initial on the garden flag matched the first initial of the last name on the order.

The Delivery.

I knocked on the storm door and could see a bed set up in the living room: someone was sick, maybe they are taking care of a grandparent?

The sender answered the door, smiled and said a thank you. What I heard his eyes say was, “I know you went out of your way, I appreciate it.”

As they turned to go in the house,  I noticed the pajama pants. I saw signs of past medical procedures. I knew in that moment that the sender was the sick one.

It occurred to me that this person likely could not have driven to pick up a birthday dessert for their spouse. It kind of looked like there was a chance they might not be around to celebrate many more family birthdays. Little do I know for sure, but that was certainly the impression that I got.

I walked back to my car and my eyes welled a bit. What if I had stuck to the webite’s determination that the delivery location was too far? What if I’d said no? I felt so relieved that I had said yes, that I would deliver it myself.

The Why.

At CookieText.com, we can’t always say yes to going out of the structure of the business. We do try to remember that we are servicing people and needs vary, so we bend the rules if we are able. We also follow our instincts. In the midst of Friday morning mayhem, I oddly agreed to spend part of my Saturday delivering to an unknown destination. I had the time, and it just felt right.

It seems that we always reap some sort of reward for our yes’s. This one was absolutely the case. Though my eyes had welled up, I felt good as I climbed in my car. I felt good about my business, good about my product, and good that I’d gone out of my way for a customer who clearly could benefit from a yes, from something being easy and stress free. It was incredibly rewarding.

But don’t get carried away, I still stopped and got that giant fountain soda for the ride home;)