What better way to kickstart my Feature Friday blog about highlighting local businesses than with something sweet. I had the chance to meet with Linda Holbrook of Holbrook House Cookie Shoppe recently and I had so much fun. I was there to take behind the scenes pictures of her in action and she was so easy to talk to that sometimes I would forget to take pictures because I was so wrapped up in the conversation. Read on to find out more about her and her delicious cookies. I didn't mind taste testing at all!
1. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I definitely enjoy the outlet for creativity. I love creating new designs, learning and using new techniques, and making people smile when they see their idea come to life on a cookie.
2. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR LINE OF WORK?
I grew up making these cookies, and I progressively improved with my decorating. While living in Italy, I took cookies to my kids' school events and was repeatedly asked if I took orders. Eventually, I figured why not!? So, in 2011 I set up a web page and a Facebook page, and my business took off from there.
3. WHAT SEPARATES YOUR BUSINESS FROM THE COMPETITION?
The taste! I bake using my grandma's recipe, and I've never tasted another cookie like it. Also, I never use royal icing or fondant. While they look beautiful, buttercream and glaze can't be beat when it comes to flavor.
4. WHAT'S CHANGED IN YOUR INDUSTRY OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS AND WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE?
What's changed for me is going from a hobby mindset while living in Italy to a licensed and inspected business once we moved to Virginia Beach. As far as the industry itself, I've only been in this industry for two years, but there appears to be so much potential. Cute, individual desserts like cupcakes and macarons are still hot, and custom decorated cookies can be the next big thing!
5. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE NEXT?
In the future, I'd like to grow to the point of having a storefront/cafe while still retaining the family-business, local feel. I'd also like to move into the wedding industry, creating custom cookies to complement the cake and/or as favors for the wedding party and guests.
6. WHAT'S ONE OF THE FUNNIEST THINGS YOU'VE EXPERIENCED IN YOUR BUSINESS/LIFE?
Looking back now, one of the funniest incidents was when a friend of my husband's was visiting us in Italy. I had finished a cookie order, set it to dry, and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, my husband was pacing the floor. He looked at me with fear in his eyes and told me his friend had eaten two of the cookies in the middle of the night. I had to deliver the order in mere hours! I refused to take them to the train station to get to their train on time, and luckily I had extra dough, so I spent the next couple hours replacing the eaten cookies before delivery. I wasn't laughing at the time, but it makes me giggle now.
7. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DESCRIBED BY THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH?
I would like to be known as an honest, dependable, helpful businesswoman. I'm quick to help out with last-minute orders and rushed requests whenever I can. I'd hope to be described as reliable, pleasant, and accommodating.
8. WHAT'S THE MOST SUCCESSFUL AND SATISFYING WAY YOU WIN BUSINESS?
Both the most successful and the most satisfying way to earn new customers for me is through word of mouth. I love when I get an email or a Facebook message from someone anywhere in the country telling me they were referred to me from a past customer of mine. There's no greater compliment to me than someone liking my product enough to recommend it over all the other options that are out there.
9. WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL TYPE OF CLIENT/CUSTOMER?
My ideal customer is one who knows what they want in a final product but is also willing to trust in my experience and creativity. My goal is to make a cookie that fits the customer's event/business/occasion perfectly, and my ideal customer believes in my ability to do so.
10. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
I run! I love the me time involved in running mile upon mile alone on the road. With three daughters at home it's often the only chance I have to be alone with my thoughts. I also love to read. As a family, we love to travel and be outside when the weather is nice.
See samples of her work below or stay up to date with Holbrook House Cookie Shoppe on Facebook
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Survey Questions taken from Expat Women