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Customer Stories

How Cookie Doughboy found sweet success

Brooke Alexander and her husband Danny started a cookie business in the middle of a pandemic. But their initial challenge didn’t involve delivery delays, lockdowns or restrictions—it was keeping up with growth.

It all began in New York City. Brooke and Danny would often visit Levain Bakery—a New York City cookie institution—to indulge in the baked treat. “Levain was the inspiration behind Cookie Doughboy,” explains Brooke. “We’ve just put an Australian spin on them.”

Danny had always dabbled with the idea of them owning a business. But as they were both working full-time, it stayed as just an idea. When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, Brooke had to take forced leave. The time at home provided an opportunity to reminisce about New York by trialling and testing cookie recipes. “It was a blessing in disguise,” Brooke says.

The experimentation stage led to offering the cookies to relatives and friends, which quickly progressed into greater interest and more customers. “I was also working part-time when our customer base started to increase. We were all in by that point, developing a website, cookie testing and trying to market ourselves. Then, we finally decided on a launch date,” explains Brooke.  

The cookies were a hit. Cookie Doughboy grew rapidly, allowing Brooke to leave her job and completely invest her time in the family business. 

“Initially, I was daunted by the idea of starting a business because neither my husband nor I had any business knowledge. It’s all good and well to have an idea, even a good product, but do I know how to run a business and make money? Having to accept that we’re going to learn as we go was a big challenge,” Brooke shares.  

The next hurdle was gaining exposure. “No one knew us, so why would they buy our product? How do they know it’s good? How are we going to get business?”. The pair relied on their family and friends to spread the word. They also began marketing their business on social media—which quickly helped raise awareness. “A lot of word-of-mouth business came out initially,” she says. 

Cookie Doughboy may not have happened without COVID-19. Brooke counts her business as one of the lucky ones, having thrived during a difficult time. 

“It was also a challenge for us because we went from a steady pace to boom; lots of orders were coming in. It was a steep learning curve for us. Plus, we were also dealing with family life, having the children at home, and learning the basics of running a business.” 

As the business continued to grow, Brooke looked for ways to help streamline the financial side and move away from manual bookkeeping. After much time spent researching and a recommendation from a family member, Cookie Doughboy subscribed to QuickBooks Online.  

“It is very user friendly. Also, since I’m always moving around, I can use it at home, the commercial kitchen or while doing deliveries. To have the app on my phone has been an amazing time-saver,” Brooke shares. “I can log my mileage and get a snap of any receipts. QuickBooks has helped our business become 90% paper-free.” 

The other benefits of QuickBooks include invoicing, as all transactions are processed digitally, proving valuable when Cookie Doughboy started wholesaling to cafes. 

“It makes our business more professional and saves time. I get alerts on my phone when there are outstanding or paid invoices. Customers can now also pay via direct deposit, credit card or PayPal. It helps to run the business efficiently,” she says, adding that it helped increase efficiency by over 70%.

QuickBooks continues to support Cookie Doughboy in its growth, letting Brooke focus on other facets of the business. “It provides a clear picture of our financial situation, helping us plan for the future and identify areas which need improvement,” she adds. 

Since entering the world of small business, Brooke and Danny have learned many lessons, such as the importance of taking feedback on board.  

“A few months into wholesaling, we had several chefs suggest that we make a plain milk chocolate chip cookie. Initially, I was resistant because I always wanted it to be full of nuts and chocolate. But they kept asking and saying that customers would like it,” Brooke says.

“I finally agreed, worked on a recipe and sent them the cookies. Well, they ended up being a winner.” She says that it’s not always about personal taste. “You need to make products that people want.” Another lesson is to ask questions and be willing to make mistakes.

As parts of Australia ease out of lockdown, Brooke recognises that the business will have to adapt. The next step is to get more wholesale customers on board and then promote the business for Christmas and corporate gifting.  

“In the future, we’d like to have a food truck or sell at food markets, or even potentially open a shop front. But these are longer-term goals. So, watch this space,” Brooke concludes.

You can follow Cookie Doughboy on Facebook and Instagram, find their cookies at your local cafe, or buy direct through the Cookie Doughboy website.

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