District Boss: Lindsay Larner of The Cookie Jar DC
Do you love cookie dough? Do you often find yourself sneaking a bite (or two- we're not telling!) from your grandmother, mother, sister, or friend's mixing bowl? But then afterwards you remember that it contains raw egg and feel odd going back for more?!
Well, The Cookie Jar DC has you covered! The owner behind this indulgent, safe-to-eat treat is Lindsay Larner. She's a St. Louis native that went from working as the marketing manager of a DC startup to making delicious, mouth-watering edible cookie dough similar to the ones you make at home.
1// What is your business? Tell us a bit about yourself.
The Cookie Jar DC makes edible cookie dough, straight from the mixing bowl and safe to eat. We leave out the eggs and we use heat treated flour, so you can eat the dough raw. I started the company in February 2016.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, moved to the East Coast to attend the University of Pennsylvania for college, and then moved to DC after I graduated. I spent 5.5 years at a wonderful nonprofit called BBYO, building and executing a marketing and communications strategy and framework while receiving my MBA. I then worked for a startup as the marketing manager for a year. But I never truly felt fulfilled in my marketing career.
2// What lead you to where you are today?
The idea of making edible cookie dough was a "light bulb moment" when I was looking for a creative outlet beyond my marketing job at a DC-based startup. I always loved sneaking cookie dough out of the mixing bowl when baking with my mom growing up, and sneaking it out of the sorority house freezer in the middle of the night in college! I couldn't find edible cookie dough anywhere, so I decided to make my own. (Beyond that, I'm not a baker and it wasn't ever a dream of mine to be one...this was all very random for me!)
Knowing me, a hobby doesn't stay a hobby for very long. I started setting up in apartment lobbies to sell the cookie dough to residents, and people bought it! From there, I joined a commercial kitchen and started finding sales channels to pay the kitchen rent. I was carried in my first store (Glen's Garden Market) within two weeks, and the business grew from there!
3// What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The best part?
Most difficult part - working ALL the time! I haven't had a day off in over a year. My life is not balanced at all but I wouldn't trade it in for anything. The best part - working for myself. Being able to make decisions without having to go through 10 other people.
4// How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?
Every single minute I am growing my business, I feel 10 times more fulfilled than I did at any of my other jobs. Being that happy naturally propels me to stay motivated and move forward. I'm also always interacting with other entrepreneurs, so we learn from each other.
THERE'S NOT A DAY WHEN I'M NOT GROWING PERSONALLY OR PROFESSIONALLY DUE TO A MISTAKE I'VE MADE OR SOME ADVICE I'VE RECEIVED.
5// What’s your nighttime routine?
We're on all of the on-demand delivery platforms (i.e. UberEATS, Postmates, GrubHub) every night, so I spend my nights fulfilling on-demand orders! In between orders, I answer emails and plan out the schedule and what I need for the next day. Because I spend the mornings and afternoons either in production or having meetings, sometimes I don't even sit down to answer emails until 7pm. I'm a night owl, so I usually finish emails and planning around midnight and give myself another hour or two to relax. And no, I do not usually wake up before 9am :)
6// What’s one piece of advice you would give to other business owners?
I am type-A. I love lists and calendars and plans. But I did none of that when I started this business.
IF YOU PLAN AND PLAN AND PLAN, YOU MAY NEVER START.
Plus, there's no way to know what the market wants until you start, so all your planning may be for nothing. I have to admit there are some major components of my business I wish I had done differently when I first started that will be very hard to change now, but there's no way I could've known to do them differently without the experiences I've had. Funny how that works :)
Thank you, Lindsay!