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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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A Lesson in Creativity and Care

Cookies and Care

Stories>Numbers

Don’t tell my bookkeeper. I’m supposed to be pulling some numbers together for her. There is a long list of things I’d rather do than crunch numbers, so I will tell you this story instead:

Things were busy in May for us in the CookieText kitchen, so this story has been on hold for a bit.  In the midst of back to school and Mother’s Day orders, I got a text from a friend. Lori said she had ordered a CookieText®, but that she was going to have to send me a separate email about it.

See, her youngest daughter, Caroline, and her friend Elizabeth had been hard at work. Something had happened to their friend, Mary. I’m not sure if the young girl had been injured or was sick, but Caroline and Elizabeth had decided  they would like to send a CookieText® to Mary to help her feel better. This was to be no ordinary CookieText®, however.

Designers in the Making

I am not sure if it was in school or on the playground, but at some point, Caroline and Elizabeth put colored pencils to paper. They carefully designed a CookieText® so that it would look just how they wanted for their friend.

Lori had taken a photo of their drawing (which was slightly crumpled from some time in a backpack), and emailed it to me. I smiled at the photo and thought, we could do that, no problem.

As this was designed by very hip grade-school girls, there were lots of hearts and it had several colors. These girls are clearly not afraid to get in the game, though, because the Cookie was also designed to represent what must be Mary’s favorite team, Virginia Tech.

Design your own CookieText®
Finished product above, creative design below

 

As I decorated the CookieText® I was a little proud that I ran a company where people could order an item that tastes good, expresses care, and that these young girls had the confidence that we could make their vision come to “life”.

A Lesson in Caring

Then I took a moment to think about these girls, and how kind and thoughtful they were being toward their friend. To think to send Mary something was caring. To design it themselves, that took creativity, and a good bit of effort on their part. If I was either of the girls’ parents I would have been very proud of them.

Then I remembered something. I know Lori and her family from years of our sons playing soccer together. Caroline has food allergies. I remembered in that moment that Caroline has never eaten a CookieText®. She can’t, she is allergic to some of the ingredients.

What an incredible selfless expression of love for another, to give them something so carefully designed and thought out, that you yourself could never have. I shed a tear or two there as the full realization of the girls gift came into my awareness.

What beautiful girls and what a selfless expression of love they showed their friend. We in the cookie kitchen were quickly reminded that we have so very much to learn from the young.

So here’s a long overdue thank you to Caroline and Elizabeth. Thank you both, especially these days, for reminding us to love our neighbor, to express kindness, and that sometimes we all should put others before ourselves.

It’s not how much we give but how much LOVE we put into giving. ~Mother Teresa

 

 

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The Summer Slowdown

Many round cookies with vibrant logo

The Summer Slowdown

It’s July. Our slow time. My hands stop moving and my brain begins to operate on overdrive:

Why is it slow?

We need consistency?

What’s the magic bullet that’s going to make this business boom?

Am I doing all I can?

I have to be more organized.

I’ll try ____ kind of marketing.

 

All that runs through my head, then, honestly, I take a nap. It’s like my brain has so much going through it that I shift into hibernation mode to preserve it for the busy times, and then no action is taken on any of the stuff that was swirling around.

So I’ve decided that the best way to actually GSD (Get Sh&t Done) is sheer commitment and determination. I need to add structure to my day so that I have a specific amount of time that I am at my desk working on the business, not in the kitchen working on cookies.

Because that’s how it works for me: I get the cookies out, and then I prioritize the rest of my life based on which fire needs to be put out the soonest, or (more honestly) which one is more fun to extinguish.

Clearly for me it’s more fun to take the boys to the store for running shoes than it is to work on payroll. It’s more exciting to look for a new couch than it is to organize my invoicing system…

So, I started this week with goals. One of them being that I will write for 20 minutes a day. So today gets a gold star, because I am writing this right now. Some of the goals are personal, the others are CookieText related.

A cool sidenote here is that my oldest then grabbed a pad and scribbled down some goals for his week.

What’s that they say? A goal without a deadline is just a dream…or something like that.

Big Goals:

Be a good mom.

Grow my business this year.

In that order.

Small Goals:

Be a good mom.

Organize my invoicing system by Friday.

Also in that order.

So I’m over here making use of the summer slowdown by trying to enjoy my boys, improve my systems, and not hibernate. Meanwhile I hope you are over there having a great summer.

It could be an even better summer if you were eating a CookieText.

Okay, that was a cheap shot, but funny. You can’t blame a gal for trying;). Now go GSD.

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Inspiration and Influence

Influence other shoppers

Forgive the manner of solicitation, it’s my speculation that the #hamildocPBS has got me wrought with inspiration and I’m inclined to write in rap and rhyme.

I try not to be an imposition I hope you understand this vision that blinds me into asking for your help.

I’m needing your opinion to influence the decision of the unsure patron that’s running through our site.

Friends must earn our trust, but in ecommerce that’s a bust: online we just believe what other shoppers write. Reviews they guide our purchase, often resulting in a surplus… of crap from Amazon we do not need.

So if you are a fan, we request you take a stand, and guide some other shoppers to the light. Take a moment to review any product that you choose that’s on our site.

It’s my speculation, that your shared jubilation will influence perusers on the fence. Help us tip them over, like Rover rolling over, so they can know the joy of sending CookieText.

I know I’m no Miranda, even without your brutal candor, but it’s fun to write in something other than straight prose. I’d appreciate your review, and will email a discount for you, if you write one in the next few days. Not at all a bribe, simply an incentive to transcribe, your happy thoughts of CookieText long gone.

[Simply visit any product on the website you love, scroll down under the photos, click the Review tab and leave a review. We’ll email you a discount coupon for your next order as a thanks for taking the time.]

 

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Can you make a $5 cookie cake?

Prologue:  

Since this blog was originally published we’ve gained some fans and some readers…we thought it was worth re-visiting, especially since the Juggle for Hunger event is tomorrow at CNU. Read through to the epilogue for what’s changed since this post…;) 

 

I lost both of my parents at a fairly young age, so I find myself very adhered to men and women I respect who are older than I. I’m not quite sure if I’m looking more for guidance or approval, but that’s okay, it might not matter.

One of the people that I have grown to respect as wiser and more worldly is my middle son’s soccer coach, Steve Shaw. He’s a soccer Guru. He can spot a player with potential and coach them into a true asset to any team.

There’s more than that to Coach Shaw, though. Steve Shaw is a believer. Not just in our youth. He’s a believer in God and His goodness. Coach Shaw believes that if we all give a bit more of ourselves than we are now, then the world as a whole will improve.

See, Coach Shaw is well-traveled. Me, not so much. I work to make a little impact nearby, but Coach Shaw has his sights set on China and places I’ll likely never see. I guess that’s where trust comes in. When someone you respect asks you for something, you have to trust them.

I know nothing about China. I have many abilities, but the dynamics of world politics, poverty issues, and how I could possibly have a role in them is not one of them.

The Challenge

It was March 15th. We were at a soccer tournament in Prince William County. Hanging out in the lobby at the Hampton Inn, and Coach Shaw asked, “Can you make a $5 cookie?”

As part of his initiative called Juggle for Hunger, Coach Shaw was hosting a Collegiate exhibition soccer game between Christopher Newport University and William & Mary. All the funds from the event were going to benefit his mission work in China. We could sell the cookies at the game.

Well, a CookieText® cookie cake retails for $25, and even a bag of CookieBites™ is $12. So a $5 cookie cake was a challenge.

To make a long story short, we came up with a $5 cookie. We call them our Emoti-Cookie®, because they are the perfect size for an emoticon. We made 250 of them for Coach Shaw and sold them at the CNU vs. William & Mary soccer game.

We gave them to Coach at cost (true cost, not labor). So every bit of  money made went to his mission work. When the exhibition game ended and we had leftovers we brought them to his church the next morning so that his peers could offer donations to his cause in exchange for an Emoti-Cookie®.

When all was said and done, we almost tripled Coach’s investment. Which is great. But that is not the point.

The Result

“Can you make a $5 cookie?” That question completely altered our business.

Our desire to help someone we respected resulted in a major payoff.

We expanded our product line. We now offer the cutest little homemade, hand-delivered $5 cookie cake you will ever find. We sell them by the 6-pack to make them deliverable. They are a huge hit.  They are adorable and irresistible. They are just right.

Our signature item, the CookieText® cookie cake, is the backbone of our brand. It is the foundation of the company.

But the question, “Can you make a $5 cookie cake?” resulted in the development of a product that, in keeping with the brand, offers a bang for the consumer’s buck while increasing the number of potential customers who receive our product. More people get one, more people like one, more people learn about Cookie Text, visit our website, and hopefully purchase our CookieText® cookie cake products.

So, yes. We can make a $5 cookie cake. For all the right reasons. Great product. Fair price. Thanks, Coach Shaw, for the challenge.

Epilogue:

Coach Shaw has moved on to become my youngest son’s coach and we just learned that he coach my middle son’s team again beginning in the fall.

April 14th marks CookieText’s 5th year sponsoring Juggle for Hunger. Our business has grown such we no longer ask Shaw to cover our costs. Last year we switched over to bags of CookieBites and they were a hit, so that’s what we’ve done again this year. 

Come see CNU face W&M on April 14th at CNU…and have some CookieText while you’re there…this year’s proceeds benefit the purchase of water purification systems in China.

Learn more about tomorrow’s event here.

Learn more about my boys’ soccer club at www.valegacysoccer.com .

Learn more about CookieText at www.cookietext.com .

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