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Hello 2024!

Running into 2024

Hello to 2024, Friends!

I hope finds you well and happy. 2024 is off to a chilly start here in Southeastern Virginia, so I’m taking time indoors on this cold day to fill you in on the highs and lows of 2023.

December 2023 brought with it a few new adventures for us. The City of Newport News hosted several Holiday events and we were asked to provide a cookie-decorating activity at two of them. For someone who runs an internet-based business, it was a treat to get out, interact with families, and see people enjoying our products first-hand. Keep your eyes peeled as I think we may be showing up again at events for Newport News (which are always open to all).

We had a big, fun change in the Cookie Kitchen in December.  A regular customer reached out and asked if I’d like a mural in the Cookie kitchen. Now instead of all beige walls I’m greeted each day with a sunshine-y mural that includes our littleJeanne in front of mural red bird and a text bubble I can write on! I’m not sure if the best part is the mural or that in the process a customer became a friend. Please follow Courtney on instagram @Balingart and keep her in mind when you need some amazing colorful art on your walls (or your workplace’s walls)!

In the late Fall of 2023 I made the scary decision to change who was hosting and maintaining The former company, while skilled, didn’t seem at all invested in what we do here nor did they seem to grasp the challenges of small business ownership.

The good news is that our current company is wonderful. Part of that wonderful-ness is that they care. They want to see us succeed, they want to make your experience on the website easy and seamless, and they seem to grasp that we don’t have the budget of a Fortune. 500 company;). There have been a few hiccups with the transition, but I’ll take hiccups over indifference again and again.

Speaking of the aforementioned balloons, we stopped offering them this summer. While I loved them as an add-on to a delivery, between the rental of the helium tank, the cost of helium, and some environmental factors, it was time to let them go. My apologies to those who loved that add-on. If anyone needs a bunch of un-inflated mylar balloons for various occasions, I’m the gal to ask!

2023 was a year of scaling back. The economy has not been a friend to small businesses, and it found me reverting back to doing as much as I possibly can to run the show instead of utilizing employees as much as we have in the past. For the first time I have real fears about the feasibility of keeping this going in a manner that will support my household. I am very proud of Cookie Text and all we do and have done, and I’d love to keep doing it. I think we call this stage ‘watchful waiting’…time will tell.

We have begun preparing for Valentine’s Day and lots of great choices are up on the website! I encourage you to check them out and order early. Valentine’s has always brought us to maximum capacity and I anticipate the same this year. Be My Valentine Cookie Cake

Personally, things are good: my boys are well and happy, the oldest moved to Richmond this Fall with a good friend and is studying for the LSAT, he is loving his new place. The middle son is set to graduate from Virginia Tech this May, and will begin his career with Smithfield Foods this summer. My youngest son has some crazy ability to excel at both his engineering courses and having a good ol’ time as a Hokie. The younger two play Club soccer for VT, so mama is very happy to know they see each other a few times a week and would be able to sound an alarm to me if needed. I traveled in November to Texas to see them compete in Nationals. Not many parents get to see two of their kids compete on the same team at such a high level. It was a cool trip and I am grateful.

Lastly, we are up for a “Best Bakery” award from Coastal Virginia Magazine. If you have a minute or two to cast your vote our direction we’d appreciate it. You can do that here. Primarily the win helps potential customers believe that ours is a product and service they can trust. We’d love to turn potentials into actuals, so thanks for your help!

Cheers to you and yours in ’24.

May it be our best year yet!




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Local Mom Makes Good (Cookies, that is)!

Jeanne and son Eddie

Local Mom Makes Good (Cookies, that is)!

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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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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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® !