Startup Backstory is a new series asking some of our most diverse clients pressing questions about their startup’s journey. Each interview is unique and represents the various ways in which the entrepreneur’s path is their own. Read more on their story of how they made their idea come to life, feel free to follow, share, and connect with them!
How would you describe the uniqueness of your business in a couple sentences?
Happylicious is unique in that we sell our edible cookie dough in bite size pieces. They are perfect for an on-the-go snack or for enjoying them at home on their own or mixed into ice cream/smoothies/drinks, sandwiched between mini pretzels/cookies or as a topping to individual desserts.
What made you decide to start this business?
I did not intend to own my own business, yet life has its way of pivoting from ones original plan. After my divorce nearly 8 years ago, I started working outside the house for the first time in 21 years. I worked part time in the office of a very talented pastry chef and ate a frozen chocolate chip cookie dough ball for lunch every day for the three years I was there. When I took the job, which I was most thankful to have, I did not know what my long term looked like. I just knew that it would not be there. When my nieces introduced me to edible cookie dough, something clicked. Through the years, I had started a couple of cottage baking businesses but did not like being beholden to the oven even though I loved the end results. Edible cookie dough required kitchen time (which I loved) without the oven time (which I did not). I got to work fine tuning my edible chocolate chip cookie dough utilizing my large blogging community, family and friends. I took batches of my dough with me to a food and wine conference where I gave forkfuls to the attendees as they passed by. What propelled me to move forward with Happylicious was leaving the conference with 150 food bloggers telling me how amazing my dough tasted.
What keeps you motivated?
Passion and determination keep me motivated. I feel that failing is not an option which, in turn, means that I will charge at challenges and work on finding successful solutions.
Who are your inspirations?
Dr. Anna Etienne at FIU StartUP Food inspires me on a regular basis as an advocate for Happylicious and mentor. Her perseverance is exemplary, and I am thankful that she is a role model for me. Another person who inspires me is Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. She started with an idea and just kept going and going and going, overcoming tremendous obstacles along the way.
What type of impact are you trying to have with your business?
There are really two different impacts I would like to have with Happylicious. The first is that I want people to realize the importance of following their passion regardless of their age. When I started Happylicious at age 56, I did not look like most of the other entrepreneurs I met….by decades. That’s ok. Move on and focus on the task at hand and get going!
The second impact I would like to have is in regard to helping people understand the importance of enjoying sweet treats in moderation. As someone who considers a pint size container of ice cream to be a single serving, it was important to me that I not to pass that poor dietary choice forward with Happylicious. Our grab-and-go packages contain 4 pieces of our all natural/non-gmo edible cookie dough. Should a customer intend to eat just one bite of happyness but ends up eating all 4, which we completely understand, the highest calorie count for any of our eight flavors is 260 calories. A sweet treat and responsible eating can go hand-in-hand.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received while starting your business?
Admit what you don’t know! I follow that advice all the time and seek out people who know what I do not.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has not always been a smooth road and this pandemic really hit Happylicious hard. It was imperative to accept what was out of my control and assess what I could do within my control. As an example, a huge part of Happylicious’ traffic in grocery stores was through demos, something I do not see coming back very quickly as a result of the pandemic. Happylicious is now working with our grocery stores to offer in-store promotions which is new for us. We also did a quick pivot of focusing on our online presence, creating beautiful gift options, and teaming up with other companies that are able to utilize Happylicious in what they make. I think it is important to remind myself that when I slam headfirst into a wall, it isn’t the end. It means I have to go around or over the wall or go back and see what fork in the road I missed. Then charge forward once more delivering happiness in just one bite….at a time!
What are some things you wish you knew before starting this business?
I do not spend time focusing on the past in terms of wishing for something that I did not know or have. Rather, I accept that there are still things that I do not yet know in regard to running a business and I strive to focus my energy changing that.
Anything else you want to share?
Be as comfortable with what you do know as admitting what you don’t and always be willing to reach out to others to ask for assistance/guidance/help from those you trust and respect. My first phone call when I started Happylicious was to Dr. Linda Neider at UM. She was a professor of mine when I attended. I told her that I wished that I remembered all that she taught me but, sadly, I did not. However, I knew to reach out to people smarter than I and she was and still is one of those. Then asked if she would meet with me, which she did. It truly does take a village to make it work.