Just wondering if anyone here actually makes a living strictly off cookies? Can it be done? How nice would it be to do it fulltime. But, could you sell them at the price to pay you for all the time that goes into them?
For a short while, I ran a small business making and selling beautifully decorated, delicious sugar cookies. Charging enough to make it worthwhile was a huge problem, and the main reason I stopped. It took many hours to turn out a batch....making the dough, rolling, cuttng, baking, designing the cookie, outlining, decorating, then packaging (which was a huge job in itself). I charged $3-$5 per cookie, depending on size and complexity. People looked at me like I was crazy, and this is an affluent community.
Cookies by Design sells cookies for about $7-8 in this area. I just checked their website, and a four cookie bouquet sells for $33. NO ONE would pay me that amount. And my cookies weren't hard and dry like I find theirs to be. An ice cream shop in the area bought some cookies from me, and balked at the $3 price, which was a bargain.
As Lucy said to Ricky, (when the salad dressing she made with Ethel cost more to produce than they were selling it for), "We'll make it up in volume".
I agree, people don't think about the amount of work that goes into the cookies. And I tried a couple of different chain cookies like you mentioned for research before I started, and figured I could sell for more since mine tasted WAY better, and I also try to be creative in presentation.
Last week I quoted $2 per cookie with writing on, and they said if I would go ahead and put them on sticks, then it was okay. They should have gone for more. People don't realize how much time it takes, mixing, rolling, cutting, baking, outlining, filling, drying, and yes, the sacking and arranging takes more time than I'd like it to. I sell individual cookies for fundraiser booths for more, I guess because they know it's for a good cause. I just have this silly dream of doing this full time, instead of nights and weekends, of course I need my fulltime job to pay for all the supplies I buy for the cookies!
I operated a legitimate business. My husband is a CPA, and set up everything legally. I had the license, Board of Health certification, and used a registered and approved kitchen. I filed with the state for sales tax so I wouldn't have problems with that. Luckily for me, a restaurant-owner friend let me use his kitchen FOR FREE to get started. That part was great.
Fortunately, my husband handled the business end--the filings, forms and registrations. I tried to do everything else myself to keep costs down--the website, the logo, the brochure, the selling, the delivering, AND the baking, etc.
Plus, I work in my husband's office, and I'm a substitute teacher. It was hectic. I think I would have stuck with it if I saw more potential for success.
I think I calculated that it took about 8 hours to turn out about 48 cookies, from start to finish, including shopping and clean-up. And I didn't use cheap ingredients. I didn't buy in bulk because I didn't want to let the ingredients get stale.
I always thought of Lucy and the"We'll make it up in volume" comment. I'd quote that line to my husband and he'd look at me like I was nuts.
I gave up after about a year. But I still LOVE my cookie cutters.
I think the reason, "Cookies by Design" can sell their product at the price they do, is because they have shops across the United States, and they are so well known. Someone in New York could go in, pick out the cookies they want, sample them, go home and call the shop in California and have that bouquet delivered to someone in that city.
I know I worked for a cookie company, real similar to Cookies by Design, and almost all of our orders were from out of town or out of state, being delivered to someone local.
It is like teleflora, you are paying for the ability to call anywhere and have it delivered. It is much easier to pay the price than buy a gift, package it, and get it off in the mail. The cookies where I worked were actually very tasty, as was the icing (not royal). I don't think the customers bought them for the taste though, it was more for the novelty of the gift.
I think it would be really hard to make it work but I wouldn't say impossible. There is a cupcake place in town and I don't know how she's making it work (well, maybe I do, she charges $25 per kid for a b-day party that only includes baking one cupcake, decorating an already baked one then decorating the one that they made). The work on decorated cookies is ridiculous! I sell them occasionally (don't have the kitchen so I can't really be in business but if someone asks me I might do it). Right now I have someone who wants me to make about 60 and she is already telling me that $3.50 per cookie is going to be too much. I might go down to $3 but maybe I just won't do it. I had make all my tags - yes, these will be wrapped and tagged - extra cost and time.
However, If you want to go for it I would say give it a try - I would never discourage someone from trying and doing what he/she loves.
peeverly, Thanks for the encouragement. I guess if you had a bakery doing cakes already, you could work cookies in. I could never do cakes, I am amazed by what these folks on CC produce, they are beautiful!
I wish I could have made it work. I guess I could have kept at it longer. People raved about the cookies and the bouquets. One real estate company told me that their cookie orders would make me a success. Then they never ordered anything.
Patience, perseverence, determination and hard work are needed in great amounts to make a successful cookie business.
gdlgdl, hard decision between cutting your losses and sticking it out, who knows. If I had another income for my family, I'd go for it, absolutely. But I'm a single mom and have to make all the bills. I'm so furtunate that I'm now in a job with not so much stress and pretty steady hours, so I can do cookies evenings and weekends, and it's not like I'm super busy, usually one or two batches a week, and I do fundraising for breast cancer and downs syndrome any chance I get.
I actually find myself dreading getting in there, "Oh, I've got to bake the cookies". but then when I get to decorating, I'm loving it!!
I wish you much success as you embark on this cookie journey.
I didn't mean to sound depressing to you. I was just stating how I think they get their business.
I know also, where I worked, the owner of the shop went out every Tuesday and passed out flyers for business's to put on their bulletin boards. He advertised in all office buildings. He asked what radio stations they tuned in on and advertised on the radio. (He gave free bouquets in exchange for air time.) He contacted sales people who gave the cookies to clients. For each of the themes, he found a business to let him display a bouquet. We also shipped bouquets to other locations. We made the bouquet, boxed it and put popped pop corn around it. We sent them next day air. We sat up at a volley ball tournament and had the volley ball cookies premade and wrote their names on them in their team colors. The coaches paid for them. We sat up at the fair and had cookies with the fair theme. Catch people when they are in the mood to, "blow" money.
We made our dough once a week and kept some in the freezer and some in the refrigerator. When an order came in we quickly rolled it out and baked. It could be in the mail three hours after we received the order.
Your cookies are really cute. You have that part taken care of. Yes, you could do it. I think the advertising is half of the business........and yes, it is sooo fun. I think it is more fun to decorate cookies than cakes. If I wasn't so old and tired, I would seriously consider trying it myself.
BCJean, thanks for all the info, it is a matter of getting the word out, folks don't automatically think of sending cookies, and a lot of it is the novelty of receiving a 'cookie' bouquet. Doing the fair type deals is my thing, I get them seen, and help a charity. And thank you for the kind words, Oh, I watch CC very closely, if only I had half the talent most of you do....Maybe one day, huh? For now, I shall keep my day job!
My 3D cookies get a lot of interest whenever I make them. My MIL was saying I could sell them, easy, for $1.50 each. What??! You're getting a 3" base with a 3" high cookie on top, and you think they're only worth $1.50??! At only 4 per hour to decorate, I'm looking at a $6.00 per hour wage...assuming all the ingredients were free.
This site smothers me with hopes and dreams!!! LOL When I see all the GORGEOUS creations on here I want to try doing them all -- especially the cookies. But because I'm a newbie (though creative) for the time it takes me to do twelve beautiful cookies, I could do a fondant cake to feed 40 or more... It's frustrating. And darn all you cookie divas to heck, because in spite of what I just wrote, I'm now completely ADDICTED to cookie cutters LOL grrrrrr
Best of luck to you!