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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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A Remarkable Year?

I liken our 6th birthday to being awarded 2nd runner up.

Sure it’s something, it’s just not…remarkable.

I mean, 5 years in business felt like a landmark, but six? Six is just…six.

My husband of 18 years and I split this past year. Now, that’s something remarkable.

Significant. Life-changing.

Personally, my year was remarkable. Professionally, honestly, it was a bit of a blur.

I remember on several occasions lying flat on my back in the middle of the cookie kitchen floor, just to feel grounded. I did it so I could feel that I was on this earth and breathing. I did it to start with what I knew for sure, because there was so much that was in transition this year, so much I didn’t know.

By now, I do know Cookie Text. It was just what I needed: consistent, steady, and distracting.  When I’m doing my thing in the kitchen, I get to think about all sorts of good stuff, like who is getting the cookie I am decorating, the funny messages, a nice review we got on the website, or how good cookie dough tastes…all great things. Especially when I’d  thought so much about hard stuff that I was weary.

One thing was tricky: I am so used to the growth mindset with Cookie Text, I had to coach myself a few times this year that holding steady was okay. This year just needed to be consistent and stable. My true focus had  to be on the boys and me, and I just needed to not lose ground with the business.

It was a hard thing to accept that I couldn’t do it all at once. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was most important.

One day this summer, despite my self-coaching, I felt like I was failing at Cookie Text. That afternoon the two younger boys and their friends asked me to take them on an outing. We were out and about for several hours and the boys and I had a great time.

It was just the reminder I needed:

Cookie Text has always allowed me to be the mom I want to be. Any time over the past six years that the boys wanted or needed me to be available or I wanted to be present, I could be. That will always be way more valuable to me than our sales figures or web traffic stats.

While it was a rocky year personally, I look back and think we still had an awesome year of Cookie-texting:

  • Even though the cookie kitchen moved, we never missed a day of deliveries.
  • Even though the kitchen was not set up ideally, we still had a record-setting Valentine’s Day.
  • Even though I was very sad at times, Cookie Text consistently brought me great joy.
  • Even though I might have neglected to send a newsletter reminder, you all still ordered.

Cookie Text was a companion on this journey. And a fun and reliable companion at that.

Now it’s time for me to get back in the driver’s seat and lead this business to it’s full potential.

In the coming year the oldest will be off to college, the middle son driving,  and the youngest will be in high school. I don’t believe this timing is an accident.  As my active-mom role shrinks, my cookie-lady role will grow. Just as I need to dedicate more time to the business, the universe seems to be handing it to me.

I find great joy in Cookie-texting, in mothering, and in just being me. The year’s personal journey was tough, but I have reached the clearing where I can feel the sun on my face and see the beautiful view.

I’m excited about the coming year, and look forward to having more attention to pay to the business. I’m grateful for all that this company is and has been for me. I am grateful for all of you.

By some unexplainable internal process I translate your affection for this company into love, and that love helped see me through.

You are all a very good kind of remarkable.

So cheers to six years, what-daya say we make us a national franchise by 10;)?!

Let’s do this!























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Socks as a Centerpiece and a Knife in the Box

Little wooden Knife

Decorating 101

I had a nice glass and iron candle holder in the center of the kitchen table. There was a pretty blue candle in it that pulled in the colors of the nearby furnishings.

Now there is a basket of socks.

My three teenage sons shower and then dress each morning in their respective rooms. They share socks, however, and those have always been stuffed in a common drawer for them to pull from.

Socks are a pain. I am often standing at the kitchen table, laundry basket on a chair beside me, tackling the sorting and matching of 81 black Nike socks that vary only by either the color of the little swoosh, whether there is a grey ring inside the top hem, or by how much they have faded over time. If you haven’t had a good time in a while, join me. It’s kind of like the game where you have to study the two pictures that are almost identical and circle the minute differences. And just like the kids level-up in video games, my aging eyes enhance the sock challege year by year.

All the matches then go into a collective sock drawer in a nearby room for the boys to pull from. So the barefooted boys get to the kitchen, get their breakfast, and then wander off to the drawer to don their socks.

It occurred to me, as I sorted these socks while standing at the table, the basket of single socks on a chair beside me, that the kitchen table is where the boys are when they need socks. So why the extra trek?

Practicality 102

I moved the candle in it’s glass and metal display, grabbed a wire basket, and filled it with matched socks.

The next morning’s ritual was akin to studying animals in their native habitat. One by one the boys each sat down, did his breakfast thing, the thought of socks washed over him, he lifted his head, saw the basket, grabbed a pair, and put them on.

Never a comment or question from either of them. Simply, “this is what I need, here it is, I’m moving on.”

And so I have a centerpiece of socks.

In the same vein, you get a CookieText® that has napkin and a knife in the box.

At home and at CookieText I try to make it easy.

Our team aims to anticipate the CookieText ‘experience’ from start to finish and make it as simple for the sender to give as it is for the recipient to enjoy.

Let’s say you are the lucky recipient, you open your CookieText®, are touched by the kindness of the message, want to dig in, and in the same second you realize it needs cutting, you see, right there: tucked neatly on the right side of the cookie cake, is the little wooden eco-friendly knife, just exactly what you needed.

So at home I have a centerpiece of socks, and at work we put a knife in each box.

Different but the same.

Because it’s really kind of special when someone anticipates your needs.

Centerpiece of Socks
Our Centerpiece of Socks-Not quite Pinterest-worthy;)



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Why Coupons are so 2013…

CookieText Shop Local

When we launched in 2011, we sent out discounts and coupons with almost every email. Like most people that start a business or introduce a product, we wanted to sell our stuff. We wanted people to try our stuff. We wanted people to like our stuff.

When you’re just starting out it seems like you have to practically give things away in order for them to catch on. There is a lot of emotion involved in putting yourself and your product out into the world, at the time getting some items out into the world and getting some positive feedback about the product was worth way more to me than any money in the bank.

I was focused on getting customers and building a brand and I gave out a lot of discounts.  Potential customers would sometimes call with a question, I’d answer, and then I’d say, “Oh, and use promo-code ____ for a discount.” Which was silly, because I already had the sale…what was I thinking?

I know I like to get a deal, and when I add items to an online shopping cart I google for a coupon code before I check out. I mean, if I can save some money, why wouldn’t I?

The “Groupon Effect”

Time went on and our product and our brand gained traction. Groupon called. It was tempting, with their promise of exploding your business. I shied away.

First of all, you really end up with only 25% of the asking price when you sell on Groupon. Secondly, it seemed like it was a weird slap in the face to the people that were already ordering from CookieText. Here they had been loyal customers and paid asking price, yet suddenly I’d offer our products to newbies at half the cost? That was totally out of line with my thought process, which is it’s a lot easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.  Kind of like when I go to that church that says again and again throughout the service to invite my friends. My friends are cool, but what about me? I came here because I needed something, but you’re more interested in my friends?

Is it a Business or a Non-profit?

I digress. Gradually we sold more cookies and had more customers and guess what…I wasn’t paying myself. I was paying all the bills and our head is above water, but all the hours I spend working are spent working to build the business, to create the brand, to establish a clientele. And I work hard. And a lot.

Ninety percent of the time it’s fun, but sometimes I’d rather be sitting on my couch watching Mad Men. It is a lot of work. In order to sell this idea, to take the concept to the next level, I have to prove it’s profitable. And it’s got to be profitable while it’s paying the person who runs it. Because other than me, I don’t think there are a lot of people that would operate a Cookie Text kitchen for free.

Instead of up with the prices, away went the discounts. And I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry because our prices are ridiculously better than any other company that delivers a gift and our product is superior to any cookie cake you can find. We make everything from scratch, bake it to order, personalize it, beautifully package, and hand deliver it. And I’m far enough into this excursion to realize Cookie Text is not for everyone. Some people just want to grab a mass-produced baked good from the local grocery. Nothing I can do will stop that. Quality ingredients and preparation time cost money. As we’ve traveled down this road we’ve found we aren’t the right company for everyone. Not everyone wants to be our customer.

Customer Loyalty

We are delighted with the customers we have. And though we very seldom offer public discounts any more, we are inclined to see a repeat customer and sneak a coupon into their account or email them with a promo-code to thank them for their business and loyalty. We’ve been known to gift them with a free CookieText treat from time to time as well. So as much as we want new customers, we want ones who appreciate the work that goes into every product we produce. Therefore we make every effort to provide exceptional service to those who already do.

We think a CookieText is worth every penny of it’s asking price and more. So if you google and don’t find a coupon code, it’s because we have done the math, the comparisons, and the legwork. You’re already getting a great deal.


If you want to read more about coupon marketing and loyal customers, I loved this article.


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CookieText’s Guide to Launching Your Business

Jeanne Fiocca, Peninsula Women's Network 2014 Networker of the Year

Though I concede that I’ve not yet built a Mrs. Fields-type cookie empire, I have learned a lot about small business in the four years since I launched CookieText. Since most of the wisdom out there comes from what seem to be unreachable big-wigs, I thought I’d give you the from ‘someone you might know’ perspective on what it takes to start something that will take off.  I am “the cookie lady,” but what I’ve learned translates for anyone who is considering launching their own business.

Here are the things I know for sure:

You Won’t Be a Millionaire Overnight

I think one of the biggest hurdles is that in the era of Shark Tank and instant pop music sensations it’s easy to think that if you aren’t successful overnight, then you aren’t achieving. Since those are the stories so often seen in the media, we think instant success is the norm, it’s not. Slow and steady can win the race. In reality the slower but steady growth of is what has given me and my team the ability to continue to offer excellence despite increased volume.

If we had our current volume of business two years ago, we couldn’t have handled it. We didn’t have all the systems in place. We’d go through a busy time, be exhausted, and have to sit and figure out where we were wasting time or working too hard.  Then we put something in place to fix that piece for the next busy season. It takes time and patience to build a brand, a reputation, an organization’s systems, and quite frankly, to build sales.

You Should Use Your Community Resources

Use the community resources out there to assist you as you write your business plan and formulate your concept. I had no idea how many resources there were that do just that–and they do it for free or practically free. Start with some books and basic internet searches, but you have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs and find the programs nearby that will help you get started or grow. The local colleges as well as city and county governments have numerous programs for small business owners to not only learn what they need to know, but to meet others who are trying to launch or grow their business as well. Cast a wide net. You might not find all you need in one location. In the tech-savvy age, it’s easy to think you can learn everything online–maybe you can, but that’s not been my experience. Start somewhere like Small Business Administration or the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center to get information about workshops and programs you can attend to learn what you don’t already know.

You need Money to get Started

Where do you find it? We launched Cookie Text on a shoestring, but that’s not typical. Of course we would all like a grant to start our business, and while checking around for these is smart, they are hard to come by. The best current resource we have found that gives amazing information about business financing is over at a site called They have an amazing comprehensive article that covers everything from how to qualify for a small business loan to special options for women, veterans, and start ups.

You Have to Really Want It

As a small business owner, especially in the formative years, you have to work your butt off. There are days that if I was punching a time-clock it would have said I worked 20 hours. Though I argue that I do have a life, Cookie Text LLC is constantly front of mind. If business is slow, I’m working on how to get more. If business is hopping I’m working on making sure everything is in place to execute properly or doing some other mandatory task that has to get done (did you know we pay property tax on our dough mixer)?  Whatever you’re planning on starting or doing, you better like it. If you don’t, you won’t put the energy in it to make it a success. On the off chance you don’t love it and still make it successful, then you’re really in a bind…because you’re stuck doing a lot of what you don’t love.

If you think you’re going to launch your business and throngs of people are going to be knocking down your door to use your service or obtain your product then you’ve watched far too much reality television. Creating a business doesn’t stop on opening day, you have to create every day: connections, opportunities, plans, buzz, etc. My new friend, Zack Miller over at Hatch will tell you; if you want to succeed you have to hustle. My favorite definition of hustle is “to obtain by energetic activity,” but it’s often easier to spot than it is to define. If you have to ask yourself, “do I hustle?” then the answer is probably not.

Creating a business doesn’t stop on opening day, you have to create every day…

You Need a Support System

People that launch their own business don’t typically have lots of people working with them from the start. In the beginning it was critically important for me to connect with other women in business that were also balancing all that goes along with that. I found those people at Peninsula Women’s Network. I attend what is called the Leading Ladies Leads Group lunch twice a month and those women are my safety net. At many networking events I feel like I have to show up as CEO and have my game-face on. But the leading ladies women, those are the ones that can look at me across the table, figure out it’s been a tough week, and then offer compassion or advice. These women were my first work friends.

Since then my work-world has expanded.  Tim Ryan, director of the Launchpad of Greater Williamsburg, would call that getting out of my ‘fishbowl’, which is critical to success.  My environment had to expand. A smart thing to consider a co-working environment where you can work around other people in a space that inspires productivity. I promise it will result in some work-related relationships as well that will help you and your business thrive.

I know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs now, but among them I have a strategic handful that I call on when I face a big decision, dilemma, or want to share a success. Without them I’d flounder.

This doesn’t cover everything I’ve learned, but it surely hits the highlights. Here’s hoping some of it helps you on your path. Then again if you think you read all of this for nothing, reward yourself with a CookieText® !