With DOUGHP being the latest addition to the local food truck gathering, Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center. They sat down with our founder, Kelsey, and got the scoop on life running this new cookie dough business! Personal growth, business growth, and even a few tips for fellow food entrepreneurs. Read on...
What excites You (Or scares you!) the most about participating at OTG:FMC?
The invite to be an OTG:FMC vendor was the icing on the cake (or cookie dough) for what’s shaping up to be one hell of year already. We just opened the doors of our new shop on PIER 39 and our catering business has been picking up some serious steam - but to get our story out in front of the thousands at Off The Grid…that’s next level for me. I’ve been a fan girl of OTG since moving to SF and it’s a true testament to this city’s love & support of small biz.
The Bay Area really cares about the people behind the food - it’s not just an awesome fried chicken sandwich or a crazy good scoop of cookie dough…it’s who made it and why they’re making it. I’m most excited about OTG for the opportunity to share my story that comes along with the cookie dough, and maybe inspire a few to take the leap and go after what they love. It’s a wild ride, but so worth the risk.
What defines your long-term success?
I just want to be happy and share this ridiculously tasty cookie dough with people….It’s such a rad thing to share this recipe with the world. We’re not just selling dessert, a scoop of cookie dough is like giving people a flashback to their childhood. Nostalgia by the scoop. I’m on cloud nine watching people enjoy DOUGHP and talk about memories they have of sneaking a bite of cookie dough. But that happiness is sometimes tough to maintain when wearing all the different hats it takes to run a small business!
I left a 10-year career in tech to follow this sweet tooth of mine, so working long hours wasn’t something new to me. But these new hours are more like 24/7. Owning your own company means you’re on, all the time; at least while we’re still small! It can be tough to find that balance between self-care & bad-ass biz owner. I believe this will be a big breakthrough year for DOUGHP, so I hope to focus on getting the right people on the team to share the load. Also, a good support system is crucial and I’m lucky to have very patient, supportive friends - admittedly, they may just be sticking around for the perks: free cookie dough. ;)
In my eyes, DOUGHP has a place in a few other big cities (LA, Austin, Las Vegas…). I’m also getting the gears moving on a DOUGHP Road Trip down the west coast in a food truck! To accomplish all this awesomeness, I’ll need some help. Something my grandma used to say to me, “Kelsey, you can do anything. But not everything.” So for 2018, success is finding the balance: kick ass and stay sane.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone starting out in the mobile food business?
Shit’s about to get real. Don’t give up, and ask for help when you need it. There are so many of us who have been RIGHT where you are. It’s overwhelming. Your to-do list has 10383709 items on it. It feels like you’ll never make it through. But you will! You’ve got a great product, now it’s time to figure out where to make it, who to sell it to, and the right avenues to sell it. If you’re not sure - just ask! Nearly every big decision (and lots of little ones) I’ve made for DOUGHP, I ran it by another contact in the food world. Hiring, scheduling, payroll solutions, health department inspections, etc. Someone else has been through it - they probably got a helping hand and would be more than willing to lend you one. I know I am.
There are things that come easier for some than others - marketing for example. That’s just not natural for some of us. Consider this common scenario: You make GREAT pies. You love your pie. You think everyone else will love your pie. But you don’t know how to market/advertise your pie business. You sell no pies. You are sad. DON’T LET THAT BE YOU! If marketing isn't your strong suit, find someone who can help you! The most important thing in running your business is knowing what YOU want to be good at. You don’t have to be good at everything, so outsource (when financially conceivable) the items that aren’t worth you learning/doing. Accounting, for example. Not my thing. So I hired a pretty legit accounting firm off the bat. Boom. Done. Off my plate. I save money by focusing on growing my business instead of looking up what GAAP means. :) Shout-out to the accounting crew at Why Blu for saving me from that misery.
Bottom line: Do what you love, do what you’re good at, and get help for the rest of it.
What do you see as the biggest obstacles to your business' success?
There are no obstacles - just new paths! :) Hehe. Well...I think our biggest area of focus is handling scale. We have something super new, unique, and the more word spreads - the more demand we get. Which is great! ("Good problems to have,” as they say) But I definitely feel the growing pains of how quickly (and responsibly) I need to hire and train the right staff & management to take advantage of all the sweet opportunities in front of us. It’s walking that line between overextending yourselves and missing out on a killer opportunity. It’s a pivotal moment in a company - but I’m loving every second of it.
The stages of growth are just awesome - Back when I started last April, employee-less and working every single event alone, I remember freaking out when someone said they had heard of DOUGHP. Like “Woah! someone that is not my friend or related to me has heard of this thing I started!?” And now, I was interviewed for ABC7 Bay Area last month (Hi mom! Hi dad!) and there are thousands of people trying our product at Pier 39 - often without even meeting me! The problems you face change so rapidly and now that it’s grown to the point where I can’t be serving every single scoop of dough (98% sure my wrist would fall off), you’ve got to focus on having people who can embody the same vibe you had and share that same passion for this product. Starting the business was a huge hurdle, but scaling it without losing the experience you’ve created is certainly my biggest undertaking yet.
**GUEST BLOG courtesy of one bad-ass cookie dough photographer, Courtney Cain.**
What do you get when you mix together a sweet tooth, a love of photography, and a brand new cookie dough company? Fast friends!
Hello! My name is Courtney and I’m the camera behind some of DOUGHP’s dopest cookie dough photos. In August, on the day I moved to the Bay Area, my childhood best friend, Lizzie had lined up a meeting with Kels (DOUGHP's founder!) to chat dessert photos. At the time we’d just started creating content for a few small businesses and were looking to grow this passion.
Lizzie is a lover of all things sweet and San Francisco and caught wind of DOUGHP’s social media account over the summer. After a few months of semi-intense stalking Kelsey/DOUGHP - we felt like we already knew her and set out on a mission to befriend this passionate entrepreneur! We met for coffee in downtown SF and the rest is history! If you’re getting Ingrid Goes West vibes, I see you! Nothing has gotten creepy… yet. :)
By the second friend-date, things got serious. I met Kels at The Bread Project in Berkeley for a get-to-know-you photo shoot and ride-share into the city. We talked passions — mine for social justice education and hers for ethical, community-based DOUGHP development. The photos turned out wonderful; Nothing breaks down inhibition faster than cookie dough. In fact, getting to know Kelsey has convinced me that sugar might be a better conversation-starter than alcohol!!
In the following week, Lizzie and I traded Kelsey a batch of cookie dough for a batch of photos and ran around downtown SF to make it happen. We threw Fruity Pebbles and marshmallow topping across Market Street and snuck up to skyscraper rooftops to get wow-worthy shots. There was something really inspiring about merging the Bay Area grunge with scoop-able cookie dough (read: barbed wire and graffiti were our friends!).
From there our friendship really blossomed! We would continue to shoot photos for Kelsey as she opened up her first brick and mortar shop at The Myriad Market. Lizzie and I would occasionally pick up DOUGHP from The Bread Project in Berkeley, snagging a spoonful of dough waiting in traffic on The Bay Bridge. We shared cars and campfires, hammocks and hangouts. What started as a singled-out social media account lead to a successful business partnership and an extraordinary friendship.
Shooting for a small, growing business is so fun because there is so much space for creativity! Sometimes this means snagging bottles of cinnamon and pulling rose petals off backyard plants to shoot a flavor feature. It often means finding perfectly random backdrops and shade cast by picnic tables. We once dismantled a skeleton decoration in someone’s front yard to shoot a spooky Halloween staging. I swear we spent the remainder of that shoot thinking someone would chase us down the block for rearranging their lawn ornaments!
Lizzie (who is featured most often as the cookie dough-holding hand) is truly a saint for putting up with my stage directions — “A little to the right. Higher. Higher! No, lower. Left. Stop being weird with your thumb! Now wait for the wind….. Perfect!”
Sometimes our ideas turn out really cute and sometimes they’re just plain bizarre, but they’re 100% fun and inspired by Kelsey’s love for her work and the Bay Area.
As DOUGHP continues to grow, our friendship is sure to follow. Stay tuned for a blog post dedicated to all the dope bloopers I’ve seen in the last 8 months. Rest assured, behind every beautiful photo is a funny face and a crumbling cone.
Get the scoop from the owner, Kelsey.
Kelsey & Doughp
The Strip Gets Raw
What's the scoop?
Doughp comes to Vegas!
Sobriety is Doughp
Meet the Doughp Squad
Mental Health @ Doughp
Kindness is DOUGHP
Off The Grid Creator
DOUGHP turns 1!
All The Feels <3
In the Fast Lane
Sky is Falling
Mac & Cheese Dough
Is this Real Life?
Corporate to Doughp