The first time I told my boss that I was leaving New York to move to Vermont he said, “Just wait, before you know it, you’ll be Diane Keaton in ‘Baby Boom’ making baby food out of your kitchen.” It was a joke. He laughed, I laughed. We all laughed. Less than two years later, my husband and I had in fact started a specialty food business out of our kitchen. I’ve decided this makes me a foodboomer: a baby boomer who starts a specialty food company. There are worse things I could be.
With a two-year-old son, and a daughter on the horizon, Paul and I left behind our life in New York City and bought a 200-year-old house in North Ferrisburgh, Vermont. Paul brought along his sommelier expertise from the finest restaurants in New York and I had my legal background. Not content to spend our free time (of which we had none) and money (of which we had none) on renovating our home, we decided to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. Paul dreamed of having a burrito business reminiscent of his days in the Mission District in San Francisco, but I had always longed for a cookie shop. One day I said, “maybe we should combine our ideas – cookies and burritos.” Then one of us (we will forever debate who) suggested selling cookie dough packaged like a burrito and Vermont Cookie Love was born.
When I was a little girl, I was the cookie baker in my family. Making chocolate chip cookies was something that always brought my family together, even when times were tough. First they’d “sample” the dough, then, if there was any left, everyone would descend on the warm cookies as they came out of the oven. That first sheet seldom made it to the cookie jar. For me, homemade chocolate chip cookies symbolized love — hence our company name.
We started selling cookies and frozen cookie dough at the Shelburne Farmer’s Market in June 2007. By the end of that summer, we had placed their frozen cookie dough in a couple of local stores, and by the end of December 2007, our dough was being sold in 23 stores. In December 2008 we opened The Love Shack, our 1500-square-foot production facility and cookie shop on Route 7 in North Ferrisburgh. As of early 2010, our dough is being sold in more than 60 stores in four states, and is being used by dozens of food services customers.
I believe more and more people are leaving behind corporate America to follow a dream of starting a specialty food business. This blog is for them, for the ones who have creativity, passion and smarts, but who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the specialty food business. We’ve been figuring it all out as we go along, helped in no small part by other specialty food producers who have been generous enough with their time and advice to help us limp into this business. It is my hope that this blog will help me to become a better foodboomer — they always say the best way to learn something is by teaching, right — but more importantly, it is my hope that it will help others who started like we did to find their way with fewer bumps and bruises.