Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Lola Marie and I began my chocolate chip cookie company Chocolate and the Chip
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been in the arts and music for pretty much my entire life and through a series of unfortunate events and then a pandemic, I needed to drastically change my course and decided to go all in on my cookies. Cookies were just a hobby and I had been perfecting my recipe for years at this point. I made them available on Etsy and when they quickly became a best selling cookie on that platform, I thought I might have something special here. When the world was shutting down, I connected with local pop up vendors and made the leap into that world selling my cookies on sidewalks, markets, where ever I could. From there, I’ve been able to expand into nationwide and international shipping, garnered accolades from NBC, Eater, The Daily Beast, Spectrum and other news sources and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds. This wasn’t in my plan but I’m so fulfilled and happy about this plot twist!
Describe the process of launching the business.
It’s not for the meek! You have to have a thick skin and you have to believe in your product. There are so many elements to starting a business and there’s so many things you need to actually launch one like licenses, permits, requirements that can be extremely overwhelming. Sometimes you learn the hard way and ask for forgiveness rather than permission. In any case, you have to just keep going.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The product! I believe in my recipe wholeheartedly. Also, being so connected on social media has been a big plus. I actually started taking orders on Instagram via DM so I really got to know my customers on a more personal level, which has been awesome. I still have my day 1 customers that order cookies at every pop up!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
There will be good days and there will be bad days and you just have to accept that and keep moving forward. Right now, I’m dealing with the repercussions of a recall that was voluntary issued because the CDHP and the FDA decided that my product labels were insufficient and instead of helping me correct said labels, they decided shutting me down and dragging my company through the mud would be more efficient. Mind you, there were no reports or complaints against my company. They had stumbled upon my kitchen space while I was not present and decided to essentially raid my things until they found something they could use. My labels had always listed each and every ingredient, what was missing were the sub-ingredient information, specific allergens and the weight of the cookies. This whole process has been terrifying and pretty crushing for a small business of my size but I will land on my feet with the support of my customers and peers.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
With starting my business, I think the most helpful thing I have learned is that community is everything. When you support the people around you, you are also supported. Don’t look at the people around you doing similar things to you as competition. There is room for everyone and the sooner you realize that, the sooner your business will begin to thrive.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Mostly instagram, a little bit of Facebook and my website.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The community that RegardingHER is creating has been such a blessing. Started by women owned entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, they are creating a safe space for other women owned businesses to connect and support each other.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Believe in your product, be willing to accept feedback, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Where can we go to learn more?
Over at my website https://www.chocolateandthechip.com
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