There's a lot I love about my life running a cookie dough company. But what I love the most has virtually nothing to do with cookie dough. It's the platform that company creates to share my story, impact lives, and lift up other organizations aligned with the same vision.
Today is my 4-year sobriety anniversary and, if you've been following along the Doughp journey since we began in 2017, you've heard my story and helped me celebrate the last THREE sober-birthdays. Doughp is a direct outcome of my decision to let go of alcohol and embrace all of the awesomeness that makes me, me. September of 2017, just 5 months into Doughp-life I celebrated two years sober with a grand opening of our first kiosk on Market St. We offered 20% off if you came in and said "It's Doughp to be sober!" Then into 2018, we launched the Doughp For Hope initiative - my way of formalizing the impact I want to have on mental health & addiction recovery discussions. Since then, I've been fortunate enough to speak at conferences and events - sharing my journey loud & proud, in hopes that even one person In the audience who needed to hear it felt inspired and made some change in their life. Or just one person left feeling a little more open to discussions around these sometimes touchy topics.
Last week, I was interviewed (watch it here) in a live event series called SUCCESS2 from non-profit, "Open Recovery". They proudly boast the catch phrase, "F Stigma!" and I couldn't agree more. This non-profit is literally EVERYTHING I stand for. Realizing how totally incredible life can be in recovery, and not allowing one drop of shame to cover your past. Sometimes I get the sense from others who remain anonymous in recovery that sharing their journey would show they were 'flawed', or they have something wrong with them. I see it the opposite - being in recovery means I am like a superhero. Sobriety is my superpower and I'm seeing the benefits of it unfold day after day. I choose to hold nothing back and openly share my journey because then people know I'm bringing my full self to the table and, in some cases, it softens them to share some aspect of their journey's too. Sharing your own story with others is like watering the flowers, suddenly the other flowers feel comfortable to open up and begin to bloom alongside you. What's your story?
Re-watch the Open Recovery live stream interview or visit Open Recovery's website to see how you can help #EndShame and support yourself or others to live (read: thrive) in open recovery.
Thanks for your support and all the love. Have a Doughp day, homies.
Founder & Fearless Leader
PS: To celebrate my 4-years today, we're offering 40% off our online store today only (9/14) using code DOUGHP2BSOBER
PPS: OpenRecovery Is one of three non-profits participating in this round of #Doughp4Hope; receiving 100% of proceeds from that flavor sold in our LV storefront. In October, you'll be able to find this flavor in our online store as well!
PIER 39 - It's an iconic tourist attraction of San Francisco and, in 2017, became the home of my first brick & mortar storefront. Only 6-months into business at the time, getting this storefront open was a passion-project from a hellbent entrepreneur who managed to go from keys-in-hand to open-for-biz in a record 19 days! I'd gathered an army of friends and family to strip wallpaper, hang signage, paint walls and move furniture. It was a wild ride and over the last 2 years we scooping up for hoards of your Spoonlicking souls; eager to get an insta-worthy shot in front of my "Legit Cookie Dough" wall!
This March we opened our new flagship store on the Las Vegas Strip and it's everything cookie dough dreams were made of. The future of Doughp is so bright, and we've decided to focus on growing our business in e-commerce (getting dough to your door, nationwide!) and through select retail outlets & partnerships (wholesale). I had to make the bittersweet decision to close down our PIER 39 storefront to refocus our efforts on these other exciting business opportunities.
It's not goodbye for good, it's just goodbye til you get your butt to our Vegas storefront or jump online to get a box delivered to your front door. :)
My Doughp storefront on PIER 39 was an epic undertaking that showed me:
Thanks for taking the time to read a little bit from me. I am so grateful to be on this journey. So grateful to hear from many of you about the impact our message has on you. I'm excited for what's ahead...
Come celebrate one last weekend at Pier 39, and receive 40% off cookie dough 8/9-8/11 by saying "The Pier was Doughp!" at checkout.
It's a Doughp day in San Francisco, and all around the world. Get after it.
Founder & Fearless Leader
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 9, 2019
Doughp Goes Digital in the Bay Area and Says Farewell to
PIER 39 Storefront
At checkout, say ‘The PIER was Doughp!’ and receive 40 percent off through the weekend
After two memorable years of sweet moments and endless scooping in the Bay Area, Doughp is saying farewell to its PIER 39 and Oracle Park locations to focus on bringing their signature edible cookie dough to spoonlickers nationwide through e-commerce and local retailers. But don’t get it twisted, while the storefront is closing, the Doughp jars and Dough-It-Yourself Bar set ups are still available for catering deliveries around the Bay Area.
Small business owner Kelsey Witherow started Doughp in San Francisco and has been scooping edible and ready-to-bake cookie dough since 2017. During this time, Witherow also created the Doughp4Hope initiative which allowed her to give thousands of dollars to local non-profits and participate in numerous community events while working to reduce stigmas on mental health and addiction.
“The PIER 39 storefront was a dream come true,” says Kelsey Witherow, founder of Doughp. “Opening my first Doughp store in a destination that was a part of my childhood allowed my cookie dough to make memories for so many other families. It’s bittersweet, but with the growth we’re experiencing in e-commerce, it’s time to step away from our storefront in the Bay Area and focus on getting dough straight to your door nationwide!”
Clear some space in the fridge and come stock up on Doughp as cookie dough is 40 percent off Aug. 8-11 at the Pier 39 location only – just whisper ‘The PIER was Doughp’ at checkout.
Spoonlickers can visit www.eatdoughp.com/ship-it to find special flavors and packs that can only be purchased online and shipped nationwide. The Cookie Dough-It-Yourself Box includes six mini jars of blonde dough with a variety of toppings - a great way to get everyone involved at a party mixing toppings into cookie dough and creating their own sweet treat. It comes with their classic, indulgent blonde dough – or, for the first time ever, you can order it with “GLUTEN-HATER,” a cookie dough made as a gluten-free, sugar-free and low carb alternative! Retail items such as hats, spoons and t-shirts are also available online.
Thursday, Aug. 8 – Sunday, Aug. 11
10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
San Francisco, Calif. 94133
Bay Area fans can still dig into delicious cookie dough by picking up a jar at Hilton Union Square, Firepie Pizza in the Mission District and just before takeoff at Napa Farms Market in the San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2.
Of course, no trip to Vegas will be complete without visiting the flagship location inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Serving up nostalgia with every scoop and curating dope moments of self-love, Doughp – the legit cookie dough company, burst onto the dessert scene in 2017 in San Francisco. After a journey in self-discovery and sobriety, founder Kelsey Witherow renewed her love for baking and inadvertently created an amazing edible cookie dough recipe from scratch that can be enjoyed either raw or heated. Doughp continues to take the world by storm with its flagship location on the famed Las Vegas Strip and nationwide shipping through www.doughp.com. Not only is Doughp sweet on the outside, but is sweet on the inside with its long-standing mission to bring attention and awareness to mental health and substance abuse issues with raw truth – with Doughp4Hope, a national campaign giving back to the community by prioritizing mental health for employees and guest alike. For more information, visit www.doughp.com. Connect with Doughp on social media by liking their Facebook page or by following @EatDoughp on Twitter and Instagram.
# # #
Michelle Wilmoth / Nicole Munoz
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Originally posted on LinkedIn by Kelsey on July 11th, 2019
Growing a business is much like raising a child... Or at least I suppose it is; though to be fair, I only have a cat. Nevertheless... So you bring this child into the world and birthing it is absolute HELL; it's so difficult & uncertain at first but something feels right so you keep pushing. (Ok, my bad. This analogy is getting too graphic.) As it grows, it brings you joy & pain, smiles and tears; but you keep at it, you keep raising this child in hopes that it will one day change the world. I'm just over 2 years into the life of my business "child" with Doughp- and it takes a constant focus to keep going, in the face of adversity and challenging times, it's up to you as the entrepreneur to keep the drive alive.
In the beginning, you've got this awesome idea and you're like 90% sure other people will be on board with it. Get your MVP ready and set out in the world - who's ready to buy? What do they care about? How's the price point? Marketing look good? And over time, with all this new input, you start to perfect your offering. The growth in those early 6 months or so is invigorating; your getting the first signals that, "Holy shit! People really want this!" and the haters seem few and far between. I was so thrilled to see my product in someone's hands; many of them enjoying safe-to-eat cookie dough for the very first time. I couldn't believe it. I was flying.
The hustle game is strong in the beginning. In the food industry, the physical toll was the most intense shift for me. I went from 8 hours at a desk job to 12-14 hours of loading/unloading/lifting/scooping. Believe me - I was banged up, bruised, cut, and occasionally crying. But you've got to do it. Prove your concept before you go balls deep investing in staff. In the early stages, it's all you, alone, all the time. (Unless you have a co-founder, then it's you two...Quick-but-worthy-tangent: If you can grow YOUR idea alone, do it. This nonsense requirement to have a co-founder is, in my opinion, BS. I grew Doughp from $150k in 2017 to just shy of $1M in 2018 without ANY partner/co-founder. You are the magic sauce, you know what you need to do and, unless you require some high-dollar software engineer, go and freaking DO IT yourself!) But I digress... :)
After you've established your concept, you now have the baseline offering locked down. People love it. They are down with your price point. This is where it gets exciting because now you can figure out what you want to say or do for the world. Your brand is this incredible vehicle for a message you want to convey. Yeah, your business can and should make you money. But it also has an incredible power to make a positive impact. More and more consumers are looking into brands and saying, "Why do you exist?" For me, Doughp began to morph into a truly mission-driven company just around our 1-year mark. Simon Sinek said it best, "Start with WHY."
"People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it." - Simon Sinek
When it comes to keeping the entrepreneur drive alive, finding & growing your mission is a HIUGE component to this. Given my journey into sobriety, Doughp took a stance on mental health & addiction and formed the #Doughp4Hope initiative. My socialized alcoholism and anxiety issues were not unique to me; 1 in 2 Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime. We are NOT alone in this, so why not talk about it? Giving Doughp a purpose is what gives me energy on the toughest of days. When it all seems to hard, too overwhelming and you want to give up, stop to consider what impact your "child" is having on the world. On my hardest days with Doughp, I look at this letter I received the day after our episode of Shark Tank aired:
"I lost my son to addiction in February, the disease won. Don't know why but the only TV show I can tolerate is Shark Tank. Seeing Kelsey last night felt like a message from my son. I know, you think I'm nuts, but I do believe. Anyway, your story is terrific and your passions are so genuine. As a mental health professional and mother who lost her son to the disease of addiction, you have my respect and admiration. And this weekend, I will become a customer. Thank you Kelsey and the Doughp team."
If that doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what will. That's motivation. That's why I get up in the morning. As hard as entrepreneur life gets, you get the hell up and keep going; knowing you have the power to make even one person feel warmth in their darkest time.
So I'll leave you with that. Keeping the drive alive is about finding your "why" and moving towards propelling that goal every - single - day. From one entrepreneur to another, you've got this.
Founder & Fearless Leader
Doughp Cookie Dough
We've made it. Arguably THE best day of the year is just around the bend. We're letting you get in on the fun with a photo contest that'll get you a FREE 6-pack of Doughp cookie dough.
To celebrate, we’re kicking off the #5DaysofDoughp Contest starting where five (yes 5!) winners will be selected to win a FREE 6-pack of our Doughp® Cookie Dough jars - shipped straight to your door, nationwide. 😲Wanna win? We're taking this contest to the 'gram.
HOW TO ENTER:
1️⃣ Post your BEST pic of or at Doughp® on Instagram
2️⃣ Use the hashtag #NationalCookieDOUGHPDay (yessss, “Doughp” Day) & tag @eatdoughp in your post
3️⃣ Tag two friends in your caption
4️⃣ Be following @eatdoughp on Instagram
Contest closes Thursday, June 20th at 11:59pm Pacific. All 5 contest winners will be announced on our story & Instagram Live on Friday, June 21st!
LET'S DOUGH THIS!
SUPER EXCITING TERMS & CONDITIONS:
Contest voting criteria will be based on: creativity, cookie dough aesthetic, and originality. Voting will be administered by Doughp employees on this criteria after the submission window is closed.
Entry eligibility: Must be U.S. Citizen, 18 years or older. Entry requires: #NationalCookieDOUGHPDay in caption, two accounts tagged in comments, @eatdoughp tagged in the photo and the @eatdoughp account followed.
No employee of Doughp Inc., Doughp California, LLC., or Doughp Nevada, LLC. nor his nor her immediate relatives will be eligible to participate.
The Prize (6-pack Cookie Dough Jar) will be shipped to the address provided anywhere in the continental United States (value not to exceed $75 USD).
The contest is open for public submission until June 20th at 11:59pm Pacific. The winners will be announced on June 21st, contacted via social media requesting the winner to contact us via email. If no email contact is made within 72-hours, a runner-up will then be contacted, and so-on until all 5 winners get in contact.
I can't believe you're still reading these yawn-worthy T&Cs. I mean, I know, it's Monday - tough to get back in the swing of things - but you're amazing, and I believe in you. Quit reading this blog, go enter the contest ASAP, and then go kick some a$$ this week! YOU GOT THIS!
So I did it. I went up, like a lone wolf, and stood before five incredibly powerful, impressive Sharks and I poured my heart on the table. I mustered up all my years of business experience paired with a lifetime of passion for dessert - and gave it my all. I knew my business, I knew my numbers, and I went in there ready to CRUSH IT. In the moments before the doors opened for me to walk towards the seated, stoic Sharks - I have NEVER, in my life, been so certain that I would pee my pants. But those doors opened, my fear melted away and I walked down the hallway as the confident woman I am. I hit my floor mark and suddenly in the (1.5 hour) blink-of-an-eye, filming was done. And it hadn’t gone like I’d envisioned. No deal, and I may or may not have started tearing up on national television. It was over. I’d blown it.
The thoughts start flying around and self doubt started creeping in like a wet blanket. No matter the reassuring words from others, the high hopes you’d set for yourself & visions of what “could have been” start to weigh you down. But then, trying to take some of my own advice-medicine, I brushed it off. I said F that - and I didn’t miss a beat. I know that this is what I’m meant to do and I set off even more determined to bring raw dough & real conversation to the Las Vegas Strip. I never paused discussions with Miracle Mile Shops (the Las Vegas storefront I was gunning for in filming!) - I continued on, knowing that if you believe in something enough you’ll attract exactly what you need, right when you need it.
Like with many times since I started this journey, I got just that. I opened an absolutely magnificent, epic, ridiculously dope (hehe) Doughp storefront right on the Las Vegas Strip, in Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. It’s everything I ever dreamed of for Doughp - we’ve got our #Doughp4Hope pledge on the wall and “Raw Truth Cards” on our nostalgic high-school-bleacher seating, encouraging more real conversation while customers hang in the Doughp shop. It’s the first of it’s kind, Dough-It-Yourself bar where guest can create their perfect cookie dough flavor from a selection of toppings and sauces to be mixed on-site into a blonde cookie dough. The store, the staff, the customers - it’s everything I dreamed of. Come see us.
We’ve also gone after e-commerce, like I mentioned in the Tank! We’re shipping and bringing some joy to homes nationwide. We’ve even got a Tank-inspired flavor called, “Bite Me” - hehe. It’s a blue snickerdoodle dough with white chocolate shark teeth! Get some or give some to a loved one and order online here.
What’s next for Doughp? My answer hasn’t changed since that day with the Sharks - I’m 100% headed for world cookie dough domination. We’re spreading a message of positivity and self-love with every scoop of dough. After sharing my journey through alcohol abuse on national television, I’m blown away by the support I’ve received; including many stories about all of your personal battles & trumps. Keep it up, you are worth it. Sobriety is a gift and it is giving back to me every day.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Damn. I wanna do that.” You’ve got that idea itching in the back of your mind? Maybe something you’ve wanted to do/build for a long time.. Go. Do. It. You’ve got one life, it’s your responsibility to live it to the fullest. Whatever is holding you back - toxic relationships, substance abuse, self doubt, whatever it is - drop it. You deserve to be so insanely happy and passionate about what you’re doing with your life. I hope I can be an example to others and remind everyone that with enough passion & handwork, the world is your bowl of cookie dough… Sounded better than oyster. :)
As a sign-off, in hopes of some of you setting off for your own entrepreneurial adventures, here are my 5 tips for crushing it as an entrepreneur / at life in general:
All of my love, and a big spoonful of cookie dough,
Founder & Fearless Leader
Local cookie dough shop Doughp makes its debut on a national television show
SAN FRANCISCO – April 29, 2019 – You’re gonna need a bigger scoop! The San Francisco dessert scene just got more legit as local cookie dough company Doughp makes a special appearance on the popular ABC show “Shark Tank.” Bay Area cookie dough lovers can watch Doughp’s fearless leader and founder Kelsey Witherow make her “Shark Tank” debut and take on the Sharks with her sweet shop and even sweeter mission to bring awareness to mental health through scoops of edible cookie dough. “Shark Tank” sets the scene for aspiring entrepreneurs to share their ideas and secure deals with the most respected business moguls in the game. Set your televisions on Sunday, May 5 at 10 p.m. and see what happens when the Sharks get a little taste of Doughp cookie dough.
To celebrate, Doughp also debuts a new remix as a nod to the “Shark Tank” episode called Bite Me. This dangerously delicious remix is made with fluffy cinnamon cookie dough dyed light blue with white chocolate ‘shark teeth’ swimming around. This flavor will be available starting today and throughout the month of May. The special flavor and the other hit remixes including Ride or Die, This S’mores is Hella Lit, and more are also available nationwide through www.goldbelly.com.
“When I heard that “Shark Tank” was coming to San Francisco, I knew that I had to jump on this opportunity right away,” says founder Kelsey Witherow. “It doesn’t happen often a national television show hosts an open call in your city, but this was my one shot to get in front of these inspiring business leaders on my own and share with them how I started Doughp with a love for sweets and a mission to raise mental health awareness. I can’t wait for all my friends and family to see what happens when I take a dip into the Shark Tank!”
This exciting journey started when the show held an open call in Downtown San Francisco. Witherow and her Doughp team got in line starting at 6 a.m. and waiting almost three hours, giving her time to perfect her pitch and offer pointers to fellow entrepreneurs in line. After rounds of callbacks, Doughp was hand-selected by the producers to film an episode for the show’s tenth season in Los Angeles. Witherow received the exciting news in mid-September, one day after her three year anniversary of sobriety. “It all happened so fast, I couldn’t believe it,” continues Witherow. “One day I’m standing in front of the producers of the show, next thing you know, I’m driving down to Los Angeles and getting ready to film in front of The Sharks. It was surreal!”
Doughp is located on the second level of San Francisco’s famous Pier 39 and is open Sunday – Thursday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sports fans can also get their hands on edible cookie dough during all events held at Oracle Park at the Doughp Cookie Dough Pop-Up kiosk. Doughp’s flagship location is located on The Las Vegas Strip near PBR American Bar & Grill in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino at 3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd. For more information, visit www.eatdoughp.com.
Serving up nostalgia with every scoop and curating dope moments of self-love, Doughp – the legit cookie dough company, burst onto the dessert scene in 2017 in San Francisco. After a journey in self-discovery and sobriety, founder Kelsey Witherow renewed her love for baking and inadvertently created an amazing edible cookie dough recipe from scratch that can be enjoyed either raw or heated. Doughp continues to take the world by storm with its flagship location on the famed Las Vegas Strip, popular San Francisco storefront on Pier 39, a kiosk located in Oracle Park and nationwide shipping at www.goldbelly.com. Not only is Doughp sweet on the outside, but is sweet on the inside with its long-standing mission to bring attention and awareness to mental health and substance abuse issues with raw truth – with Doughp4Hope, a national campaign giving back to the community by prioritizing mental health for employees and guest alike. The company works closely with The Bread Project, a nonprofit kitchen and job training program that produces all of the delicious dough. Doughp was also featured on the ABC television show “Shark Tank” during its tenth season. For more information, visit www.eatdoughp.com. Connect with Doughp on social media by liking their Facebook page or by following @EatDoughp on Twitter and Instagram.
Originally posted by Dan Moore on March 21st, 2019
Four years ago, Kelsey Witherow woke up in a Barcelona hotel room without any idea how she got there. On the floor, an empty bottle of red wine refracted shards of harsh yellow sunlight. A thatch of damaged clothes sat crumpled in a corner. Confused, she sat up in bed, unlocked her phone. She discovered her boyfriend had dumped her the night before. Coworkers were asking if she was alright. One bemoaned her wasted potential.
Slowly, Kelsey felt her heart crawl up her throat. Her head pulsed with dread.
“I knew I was capable of more,” she told me over Skype, reflecting on the moment. “I knew I had more to give to the world. And I knew I never wanted to feel like that again.”
She flew back home later that day and set out on a road to sobriety––and also, perhaps, to reinvigoration. She’d been working for years as a product marketing engineer at Intel. She was 24 and making six figures, but she was also an alcoholic who’d become complacent and had taken to coasting on natural talent. Since turning 18, she’d been arrested, hospitalized, and alienated from loved ones.
“It was really hard,” she said, “To admit that I had a problem.”
Today, she’s the founder and CEO of Doughp––a mission-driven dessert company born from a lifelong passion for baking. (Think Cold Stone meets cookie dough meets cocktail bar.) The company just opened its third physical location––this time in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each member of Kelsey’s staff is or will soon be mental-health certified. Every six months, she concocts a new “Doughp4Hope Remix” flavor––this month, she partnered with Las Vegas’ Chippendales to create “Chipp-tastic,” an unusual blend of cookie dough, potato chips, chocolate chips, and peanut butter cups––and sends 100% of the proceeds to a different nonprofit. This month, it’s the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Most startups fail before the end of their first year, never making money. Many entrepreneurs buckle under the stress of the effort and quit, or succumb to their own bad habits. Doughp, on the other hand, has been profitable for nearly 18 months. And Kelsey, meanwhile, has not had a sip of alcohol since she stepped out of that hotel room in Barcelona.
It’s a story I find fascinating. I, too, have grappled with a certain insistent propensity for self destruction, and I’ve thought hard about what it takes to defeat it.
I’ve also counseled others on the subject. In a former life, I was a school teacher. Once a student of mine asked me how she could become a CEO when she grew up. I believe I told her some version of, “Think of a problem to solve, go to college, and work really hard to make your solution really great.”
Kelsey’s story reflects the timeless relevance of that boilerplate advice. But in an age of Theranos, the Fyre Festival, and Facebook, especially, it also compels an important addendum: in an age of deceit, to be great, you have to be authentic––both in your belief in your product, your commitment to self-improvement, and your desire to better the world.
How to pick yourself up. A quick disclaimer: I’ve known Kelsey since college. We met at a philanthropy event our sophomore year. Right away I found her charming, intelligent, energetic. We became friends in the frictionless way of satellites and space objects, passing each other amicably in orbit. We lost touch after graduation.
That was back in 2012. Two months ago, I saw her on the news. I sent her a Facebook message congratulating her success and asked if we could find a time to chat. I told her I was interested in writing a story about her company; I was doing a series on millennial founders. We spoke for about an hour over Skype the next day.
On the call, which she took from her new apartment in Vegas, Kelsey told me about the morning she woke in Barcelona. Then she detailed how when she got back to Oregon the next day, she set about putting her life back together. The first thing she did was enroll in AA, find a sponsor. Then she went back to her roots, the pursuits and means of leisure that brought her solace, peace.
That meant baking, which she’d always loved. Each night, after she got home from work, she occupied her time and her newly-sober mind making truffles and cakes, brownies and, yes, cookie dough. She baked for her friends and for her coworkers. She recalled it as a kind of kinetic therapy, but it turned out to be of tangible value, too; everyone who tried her treats loved them so much, it became obvious to Kesley that she could try selling them.
Thus began her first foray into entrepreneurism: an online store through which she tried selling her desserts. She ran into in retrospect inevitable complications, though, and shortly thereafter had to shut the business down.
What came out of that short experience, though, was the identification of a kernel of an idea that could eventually work: Kelsey’s early customers loved, in an outsized way, her vegan, eggless cookie dough recipe. In the manner of almost-successful creatives throughout time, she knew she had something––she just wasn’t sure how to harness it.
Hustle and dough. Six months later, Kelsey was given a chance to move back to San Francisco, where she’d been raised, to help run an Intel-affiliated nonprofit called Hack Harassment. Still sober, she’d get to run it in concert with Lady Gaga’s anti-bullying organization, Born This Way. At a time when millennial unemployment was still unfortunately high, it was something of a dream opportunity.
Kelsey saw it, too, as a chance to reset, or perhaps settle. But working in the nonprofit space proved a new source of inspiration. I believe it instilled in Kelsey an appreciation for the importance and moreover the opportunity of doing good. Culinarily talented, and still entrepreneurial at heart, I believe it was here that Kelsey started thinking seriously about how to couple philanthropy with a means of making money.
Inspiration didn’t truly strike, however, until Kelsey joined a group of friends for a night out in the Mission. Kelsey, assuming her usual role as social shepherd, guided the group from bar to bar and, at the end of the night, suggested getting desert. No one was in the mood, however, for ice cream or for cupcakes. That’s when it hit her. Kelsey steered everyone back to her apartment, where she made globs of cookie dough and served it by the appreciative, drunken bowl-full.
The next day, she made another batch of cookie dough at home and set up a little table in San Francisco’s Delores Park. She of course didn’t have requisite, licensed equipment to make her product at scale, nor a full recipe, nor really even a business plan, but she wanted to see if her idea was real, and so she decided to go for it. She advertised her “Edible Cookie Dough” with a sign taped to the table’s plastic brow. She had to explain to a few initial customers that her product was not in fact edible marijuana––“Oh sweeeet, edibles!” initial customers exclaimed––but this writer sees it as telling that those folks walked away satisfied anyway.
Apparently, so did Kelsey. The next week, she contacted SPARK Social, a food truck park and event space in San Francisco’s Mission Bay district. The SPARK team added her to the summer lineup that day. Her first afternoon, she sold out her entire batch. Promptly thereafter she invested $3,000 of her own money to rent a commercial kitchen, hired part-time help, and set forth on the founder’s grind––you know, the combination of long hours, isolation, and teeth-grinding grit required of nurturing a flicker of light into a profitable flame.
Success. Before too long, Kelsey’s fire caught. She quit her job for good and branded her company Doughp. She was making money working events and filling catering orders all over the city. The next step, she determined, was to make good on her authentic desire to couple profits with purpose.
It was to this end that she partnered with The Bread Project––a nonprofit kitchen based in Berkeley that provides work-readiness and professional-development programs for marginalized East Bay residents. They helped her with dough production. (Doughp is now The Bread Project’s second biggest partner, behind San Francisco Soup Company.)
Next, she began sharing her story publically. She did press in which she detailed her struggle with alcoholism. In the weeks leading up to the opening of her first brick and mortar location on Market Street––an opening which coincided with Kelsey’s two-year anniversary of sobriety––readers on Doughp’s social media pages were told that if they said, “It’s dope to be sober” at check out, they’d get 20% off their order. Subsequently, Kelsey’s inbox and Doughp’s Facebook page were flooded with messages of support and commiseration, from former addicts to those still struggling to kick drugs or booze.
Three months later, Doughp opened its second physical location, this time in Pier 39 on the well-trafficked wooden planks of Fisherman’s Wharf. (Presently, the Fisherman’s Wharf store runs a 15% net-income ratio.) Then, on March 16th, Kelsey opened Doughp’s aforementioned third location in Vegas.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Kelsey told me. “Actually doing the thing you set out to do.”
Today. Now, it should here be noted that Kelsey’s story is not without controversy. In 2017, for example, upon giving her initial menu offerings unique names like, “This S’More is Hella Lit” and “Cold Brew is Bae,” she was accused of cultural appropriation. She apologized, promptly adjusted her perhaps misguided branding, and focused on further strengthening her communal ties.
The appropriation controversy is interesting, though, in that both her response to it and her quick course correction further substantiate her case study. I think of the young girl in my class years ago. I think of the many millennial entrepreneurs I know and write about today. And I can’t help but feel there’s a lesson here. Authenticity and an honest commitment to creating something valuable and good act as a kind of oxygen for the fire you cradle in your palm. It fosters customer loyalty and acts, in a way, as a market differentiator. It can also propel you through mistakes.
It’s one reason, I think, that Kelsey and Doughp have been successful. The company found a niche, yes, but Doughp’s success is also entwined with the fact that its altruistic ambitions are genuine. When it’s all said and done, Doughp very well might leave a lasting, positive imprint on the world.
Or it might not; I’m not an entrepreneur, and I’m definitely something of an idealist. But idealistic or not, if I was an entrepreneur, Kelsey’s is the kind of business I’d want to start: one that makes money, but that also at least seeks to make a difference.
Near the end of our Skype convo, I asked Kelsey if she was proud of what she’d accomplished, given how far she’s come since that hungover morning in Barcelona. She was doing what so many before her had set out to do. She was a millennial example. She was sober.
She thought on it a moment.
“It’s dope,” she said, without a trace of irony.
Yes, I thought. Dope indeed.
Originally posted by Sober In Vegas on March 6th, 2019
It’s been a minute since I’ve had a chance to feature a local Vegas place…I’ve been working on the sobriety and spending series, the new parent deck, and just being a human being in general with a full time job and a family.
But recently, I had the chance to meet Kelsey Witherow, the owner and creator of Doughp (Cookie dough that is both safe and ridiculously fun to eat!) who is opening a Vegas location at Planet Hollywood on March 16th.
Thanks to the beauty of the internet, instagram hashtags, and the incredible online sobriety community, Kelsey and I met up for a cup of coffee at Vesta Coffee in DTLV and it was like meeting a long lost friend.
Kelsey, who has been sober since 2015, is the real deal.
She’s a woman who cares about her employees, mental health issues, business ethics, and local community.
In late 2015 during her first year of sobriety, she reconnected with her love of baking with so much newly found hang-over free time to kill. After starting a small online baked goodies delivery service, she began experimenting with Vegan cookie dough recipes. In 2017 she opened a pop-up on Market St. in San Francisco, and in honor of her two year soberversary she offered a discount to her fellow folks in recovery–walk up and say “It’s Doughp to be sober” and they received got 20% off their order!
Kelsey, the owner of Doughp (image via Doughp’s website)After her success in San Francisco with locations at Pier 39 and AT&T Park, she’s opening up shop in Vegas. The location inside of Planet Hollywood will provide a “bar-like” environment, complete with a “Happy Hour You’ll Actually Remember”mocktail menu.
The staff at Doughp also receive Mental Health Certification to be prepared to see signs of suicide risk and to be better educated to listen/engage/attend-to people as we bring up these topics in our stores. Doughp also has a mental health policy that offers two mental health days a year to staff no-questions-asked. In her words, “It opens up the conversation between employer-employee to talk about what’s really going on in your life.” Doughp also helps to subsidize mental health care for employees upon request.
In addition, Doughp the #Doughp4Hope flavor sold in stores allows them to give back monetarily to local nonprofits supporting mental health and addiction-treatment. They donate 100% of proceeds from every scoop of #Doughp4Hope to a different rotating non-profit.
Doughp is also going to be hosting tons of sober-friendly community centered events locally here in Vegas, so be sure to subscribe to their newsletter via their website and RSVP to their grand opening on Saturday March 16th from 12pm-4pm!
As Kelsey as been working to get Doughp up and running, she’s been spending a fair amount of time exploring Las Vegas. Despite working long hours, she’s also had the chance to host family members and friends while she’s been here, and taken advantage of every minute.
I wanted to ask her a few Vegas-centric questions, as I’m always curious about the experience for out of towners:
What are your favorite sober-friendly places in Vegas?
My favorite places are outdoors! I was just blown away by how much there is to see within ~1-2 hours of Vegas! Arizona Hot Springs, Red Rocks, Valley of Fire…I’ve been all about that outdoor life since making it here! Also – thoroughly enjoyed some of the plays/comedy/magic shows on the strip. Get soda water with lime, or ask a bartender to make you a mocktail if you’re feeling wild! It’s amazing entertainment right at your finger tips and you get to remember the show! BONUS!!!!
What would you tell someone who is sober who is visiting Vegas for the first time?
You can have an amazing time here without alcohol. If you’ve got to head to the strip, just have a purpose and try not to linger in the bars/casinos too long if it makes you uncomfortable. There’s so much more to Vegas than the strip – Get outside and hike/sight-see! Go to the Hoover Dam! Visit the Grand Canyon! Or find a new restaurant! Or join the bouldering/climbing community! Or any other hobby you’re into! You can do this!
Originally posted by Angelina Hong on March 8th, 2019
Just in time for International Women’s Day! I want to feature and honor another “doughp,” female, food, business owner: Kelsey Witherow.
I had the pleasure of hearing Kelsey’s story, and I’m so excited to share it with you all! It is powerful, raw, and real. She also touches on some major points that I feel are so relatable. As someone who has struggled with mental health, it’s so refreshing to hear someone advocate so boldly for these types of conversations. Please enjoy!
How would you describe yourself and the identities you hold most close?
I’m a passionate millennial ready to change the world! I’m the founder of Doughp – an unconventional dessert brand dishing up edible, bakeable, and ridiculously tasty cookie dough. To burn off all the sugar I eat, I enjoy yoga and hiking to clear my mind! I’m 3½ years sober which lets me really soak up all that life has to offer. :)
28 years old
I’ve read about your personal story behind creating Doughp, specifically your journey through addiction and sobriety. Can you tell me a little more about that? How did those experiences lead you from idea to fruition of Doughp?
My journey to Doughp was an interesting one. Though running a cookie dough bar as your profession doesn’t exactly have many “normal” paths. (Normal totally sucks anyway!) It wasn’t until after 10-years in the tech industry that I ditched the processor chips for chocolate chips and started Doughp. At 16, I began an internship with Intel that would take me through high school and college until becoming a salaried employee in 2013 when I graduated from ASU.
I grew up with pretty high standards for myself. I was that girl who would cry when she got a “B” on a test – heartbreaking. I wanted to be THE best at everything and desperately wanted everyone’s approval. The stress just compounded when I introduced my perfectionism issues to Corporate America while still just a kid. The need for approval transversed both school and personal life with this intense desire to also be “cool” – but I never perfectly fit in with any one group in high school. That’s when I found my “friend”, alcohol. In high school, I think alcohol filled two needs for me. One, I “fit in” and could use it to prove that I was cool and could hang, throwing back as many beers/shots as the guys (even if that inevitably ended with me being carried out of the party in a blackout). And two, it gave my brain a break. I drank to blackout regularly and it was when I was drinking that my brain wasn’t running on overdrive.
This continued into college…as did my budding career at Intel. From the outside looking in – as is often the case with alcoholism – I seemed to have it all together. As I aged, I could see this problem was growing. I tried to get sober at 21 (*this should’ve been a big red flag. LOL.*) and had the intention of “resetting” my drinking ways after 6-months sober. It was only a few weeks after that til my next blackout and a morning full of apologies.
Our society makes it crazy difficult to accept you have a problem with booze. The generation normalizes social alcoholism, so for a long time you’re told to shake it off, it’s just a phase, just count your drinks, just have water after each drink, and on and on. Nothing worked for me. And in September 2015, while living in Portland, Oregon… I found my rock bottom (which is sometimes referred to as the point in which you decide to stop digging). I like that concept – we all get to decide how low our rock bottom will be, to decide when we want to turn it around.
Well I turned it around! In late 2015, I was sober, figuring out what my new life would look like, and spending an ungodly amount of time in the kitchen! I had a longtime love of baking, but it often took a backseat to a hangover. It was great to be at it again, I was making cakes, cupcakes, truffles – you name it. I was loving life baking and started a little online/local delivery for my baked goods called “Monster Baby Bakery”. My first soiree into entrepreneurship and I was hooked. But then, that next spring, Intel moved me to a new position down in San Francisco and I put my bakery on hold to get adjusted to the new city.
As one does when they move to the Bay Area…I gave veganism a try! However, as more of a part-time vegan I was frequently using butter but leaving the eggs out of my recipes. That led to one day making a batch of cookies and feeling significantly less guilty saving half of the dough to chow on raw! Eggless but butter-filled – I had this delicious & safe-to-eat cookie dough recipe on my hands.
Everyone loves cookie dough, and I hated that we were forced to suffer with just cookie dough ice cream (pathetic little nibs surrounded by way too much vanilla ice cream – blah!) I had an opportunity to take my entrepreneurial spirit + a nationwide affinity for cookie dough and turn it into an epic dessert shop – unlike all the other girly dessert shops, we’d make something really chill, somewhere you’d want to get together with friends and hang out at night. I was going to make a really doughp dessert shop. The rest is history!
Can you tell me a little more about Doughp 4 Hope and mission behind that?
As the company grew, we hit a milestone on my 2-year sobriety anniversary (Sept 14, 2017) and opened a pop-up kiosk on Market St. Though only ~100 sq ft…it was ours! We threw a big grand opening on 9/14 and, after sharing my story about sobriety, offered a discount: walk up and say “It’s Doughp to be sober.” – you got 20% off. :)
It was the first time I had shared my journey on Doughp’s platform and we got an incredible response from people. Many reaching out to share their personal struggles with it, some asking for help/advice as they were in early days of sobriety, etc. It just shook me – it showed just how shrouded these topics typically are and when you share just a little bit, you offer this platform for a conversation to begin. These people wanted to talk, to share their story, and there likely are many others who remained silent but so desperately needed to hear that someone else had gone through something similar to them – and made it out. Giving them some hope in the future…
So, it was born. #Doughp4Hope launched as my way to coordinate all of Doughp’s philanthropic efforts around one topic: Mental Health and Addiction.
1 in 2 Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime. If 50% of people (and this is arguably even higher given non-diagnosed populations) suffer from something – why in the world is it so taboo to talk about? #Doughp4Hope is about elevating the conversation on mental health – truly reminding people that it is ok to not be ok (addiction battles, mental health issues, etc.) and encouraging them to reach out for help when they need it. We do this in a couple of ways:
Creating spaces for booze-free fun; our Vegas storefront provides a “bar-like” environment; complete with a “Happy Hour You’ll Actually Remember” mocktail menu.
Mental Health Certification for our staff to be prepared to see signs of suicide risk and be better educated to listen/engage/attend-to people as we bring up these topics in our stores.
Mental Health Policy – We offer two mental health days a year to each member of the Doughp Squad; a no-questions-asked relief from a shift if they need it. It opens up the conversation between employer-employee to talk about what’s reallygoing on in your life. We also help to subsidize mental health care, upon request.
Non-Profit Donations; in our storefronts, the #Doughp4Hope cookie dough flavor allows us to give back monetarily to nonprofits supporting mental health and addiction-treatment. We give 100% of proceeds from every scoop of #Doughp4Hope to a different rotating non-profit.
What difficulties, if any, do you face being a woman in the food industry? How do you counteract these?
I don’t look at these as difficulties. I just seem them as opportunities to get more creative!
I think being a female and a CEO in general has its unique opportunities – recent studied showed less than 2% of female founded companies will ever reach $1M in annual revenue. I think a major driver in this is the challenges in accessing funding. Many VC’s have started to step up and enact some funding goals for female companies – but it really needs to be a genuine shift in human perspective of a woman’s worth/value, not a quota to hit. “Handouts” like this just undermine what we’re after.
I want someone to invest in me because Doughp freaking kicks BUTT – not because it’s run by a woman. I don’t love being referred to as a “female CEO” – one day I want to just be a CEO. (This is the same battle “female engineers” are going through – they’re like, “Hey! I’m an engineer just like you!”)
I may be young. I may be a woman. But I don’t act any different than some other older/male CEO would. I think commanding a certain level of respect can throw my “differences” to the side – I walk with my head held high and engage everyone and every opportunity like I’m a BOSS. Cause Beyonce said so. :)
What’s your favorite Doughp flavor?
Ooooooh. Long time favorite is Lavender Dreams. It’s an oatmeal, lavender, and white chocolate flavor sent from heaven. :) I’m a huge floral/herbal fan in desserts so this one won my heart — even if it wasn’t a crowd favorite from the public.
Is there anything you want to tell me, or your customers? Any big news or upcoming events?
Big stuff coming in hot for Doughp! Our Las Vegas dessert bar will have a Grand Opening on March 16th, 12-4pm (even Chippendales is making it out for an appearance!). It’s located inside Planet Hollywood at the Miracle Mile Shops, 3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Please sign our #Doughp4Hope Pledge and help spread this important message: YOU. ARE. ENOUGH!
Hey there Doughp fam!
When Doughp first opened its doors in 2017 our fearless leader, Kelsey Witherow, had a lot more in mind that just some kick-a$$ cookie dough! She was on a mission to reduce the social stigmas surrounding mental health & addiction; through her vulnerability, many of you have found the courage to open up the conversation with friends and family.
Doughp has pledged to always keep it raw and real when it comes to mental health. This pledge is something anyone and everyone is able to be a part of, and that’s what I’m going to be doing today. Doughp has 3 steps you have to commit to though before taking the pledge.
Step 1: Answer straight up when someone asks “how are you?”
Well Doughp fam, I haven’t been too great lately. I’ve had a headache that feels like it’s been following me around all week and in just a few short days my college classes will be starting up again. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE college, probably a little too much, but the hustle of keeping up with school definitely gets to me sometimes. On those stressful days I like to turn to my dog, Ozzie. Somehow he always seems to be able to lift my spirits. He has a no F’s to give kind of attitude and the way he shakes his booty with excitement when he sees me MAKES. MY. DAY. He really is my superhero in doggy disguise! Just typing this little bit about him was enough to make me crack a smile.
Here is my good boy, Ozzie! -------->
Step 2: 2. Give & accept compliments without hesitation.
Everyone loves dishing out a good compliment, but why does it feel sooo much weirder to accept them? This is definitely a step that I will have to work on after I take my pledge!! Giving compliments is a small way of brightening up someone's day, and while I do love my fair share at a compliment, giving them out is where the magic really happens! Seeing people smile over a simple sentence is what makes communication so unique. We as humans have the chance to lift up one another and it can even be as simple as telling them you like their nail polish. Think about the last time you gave out a compliment, if you can’t think of a recent one try to give one out today! You never know how this simple gesture with change someone's day.
Step 3: Keep an open door for anyone who is struggling.
In my humble opinion, this step is the MOST important. We have the power to comfort and care for our fellow human beings. Why wouldn’t do our best to try? Whether it’s sitting with a family member in silence or taking a drive with a friend, reaching out and being a place of comfort for those who need it is a mission we all can succeed in. When we allow those who are hurting to find safety within us, it opens new doors for the conversation on mental health to begin. Being open to another’s struggles and not outcasting them for their pain helps ease the tension around wanting to share our feelings. People have bad days. We all have bad days. Why not make it easier to turn to others and confide in one another. I know that any time I have a loved one come to me with their pain I do my best to make sure they know how much love surrounds them. I never push them away or shame them for being real and raw with me. Life can’t always be rainbows and butterflies, so let’s try to help each other through the rain.
Well Doughp fam,
I took a chance today and pledged to make life a little sweeter for everyone around me.
If you want to get in on the action just head to ----> https://www.eatdoughp.com/pledge-form.html
Lots of love and a little bit of sprinkles,
Doughp Social Media Intern
All of us here at Doughp are forever rooting for you.
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