BIG NEWS TO SHARE! Read on to find out...
Six months ago, my boyfriend and I were on a bike ride when I told him I wanted to start a cookie dough company. At the time, we were both happily employed in our tech jobs, so he sort of laughed it off - saying endearingly, "Yeah, that'd be nice...one day." Within two months, I started selling DOUGHP.
I'm like Charlie Sheen in a way (yikes -- that's something I thought I'd never say). But, like he once said, "I've got one speed, I've got one gear. GO!" I connect with an idea, decide I'm going to do it, and come hell or high water that shit is happening! Since launching the company, I've leveraged our time at Spark Social SF (a food park in Mission Bay) to test the waters...errr...dough, rather. Do people truly love cookie dough? Yes. Do they want to devour fairly large amounts of it in one sitting? Yes. Is it insanely fun to run your own cookie dough company? Hell fucking yes.
The last four months have been a great proving ground - experimenting with new flavors, selling the dough, launching awesome partnerships, absorbing all the feedback and working to scale our production (growing pains included...see our last blog). We're getting awesome feedback from customers, one message on facebook ending, "So glad we found your product and we can't wait to go back for some more! Thank you so much for making our dessert dreams come true!" *crying* So cool - DOUGHP is just out here tryna give the people what they want! That said - we are still very much in start-up mode, with employees coming to refill the cups, spoons and other DOUGHP-dealing necessities from my studio apartment before the head off for a shift at Spark Social. It's sort of comical - occasionally an employee coming back after a late shift and catching me finishing up emails in my pajamas (and eating cookie dough). I think I'll find this particularly funny in another year or so when we're super official and have an awesome office like Smitten Ice Cream, who I went to visit earlier this week. They have this big spacious, well-lit loft above what will soon be their very own commissary kitchen. I'll be there some day!
We're getting there and now it's time for our next big step in the DOUGHP journey! We're moving on up and will be opening our very first DOUGHP Cookie Dough Bar on Market St! OH YEAH. YOU HEARD ME! We are opening up shop in a super funky (and awesome) indoor food hall called The Myriad. I signed the lease today and will spend the next month readying San Francisco for the greatest Cookie Dough Bar EVER! We're talking 6+ flavors at a time. Imported crazy colored/flavored waffle cones from The Konery. Some experimental cookie dough confections rotating through. And - best of all - a new home base for DOUGHP so I can remember a litttttttle bit of work & life separation! My employees can restock at The Myriad and my studio can go back to just being a studio. :)
We can't wait to share more details as we go forward. Move-in begins this Monday and some serious remodel videos & pics are sure to go up on our Instastory so follow along on this insanely cool journey!
I AM SO EXCITED.
LIKE, REALLY REALLY STOKED. :)
They say a baked cookie was first created out of a failed cake recipe. That person must have felt like a total failure, looking at this flat pathetic attempt at a cake – and then their friend walked over, grabbed it, took a bite and said, “Damnnnnn, this shit is bomb!”….or something like that. I’m paraphrasing here. But it’s true, sometimes it takes a second look at a mistake and see something totally awesome.
We’re going through some growing pains at DOUGHP right now! At 5’2”, I’ve personally always wanted to have growing pains, so I am very excited to be growing at all! But business growth bring along a different set of side effects…We're going through 3-4 times more dough each week than when we first started. To keep up with demand, we started exploring the use of a co-packer. (It's ok. I didn't know either. This was me 4-weeks ago: "What the hell is a co-packer?") This means we can use a company to produce our delicious recipe on our behalf and that lets us take on the increased demand and also frees up my time to keep growing the business instead of living in the kitchen! I can go in and make my fun flavor experiments to keep growing our menu, but the recipes I’ve crafted that you guys know & love now – I don’t have to be hands-on with every pound!
So a few months ago I met the folks from The Bread Project over in Berkeley, CA. I was still early in my DOUGHP days and didn’t think I was ready for a co-packer, but I was totally intrigued by what they were doing and what they stood for. I envisioned a co-packer as some big scary manufacturing warehouse where everyone is silently trudging along at a factory line job. Seemed scary and pulls away from the homemade, small-batch aspect to my dough that I love! The Bread Project was the antithesis of all of that.
The Bread Project employs low-income individuals in an effort to build a more self-sufficient community. They go through intensive kitchen training and career-building sessions and even have a graduation celebration for the “students” who have completed the training. So the students are trained and act as kitchen staff for The Bread Project’s co-packing services. The students are making over minimum wage and able to really set themselves up with skills to make a real income! How rad is that? I am now at the point where I need some help keeping up with the DOUGHP production and I don't have to work with some scary manufacturing plant where they’re paying peanuts. So we decided to move forward with The Bread Project and we had one initial test production go swimmingly. We made the leap that day from my previous biggest batch in a 60-quart mixer, to using a 120-quart mixer! That’s a shit ton of cookie dough.
The next time (about a week later), I go in to teach my recipe to the student who will be leading the cookie dough production. We go through the motions like I’ve done countless times – and then I taste the final product and instantly knew something was off. I was getting this intense hit of flour – this was NOT my dough! Immediately I thought it had to be the person I was training – maybe he measured something incorrectly. This recipe has been tried & true since day one, how could it be failing me now?! We now had nearly 300 pounds of dough that gave off a slightly savory taste and have a week full of events awaiting more dough!
After some at-home experiments to see if there’s anyway to salvage it, I realize I can’t bring it back to life – but I have two workarounds to make something of the dough!
The next day, I’m feeling a little crazed that I now will lose another day in the kitchen. Time is money when you run a business alone and I thought I might actually die spending another 5-7 hours in the kitchen instead of meetings, emails, planning, and – obvi – instagramming. But nonetheless, I’m telling myself I trust my recipe; we just need to go in and be extra careful measuring.
After I get the first few ingredients in, I start sifting out our heat-treated flour. The flour needs to be heat-treated in order to kill bacteria since you guys end up eating this shit raw, so we have been purchasing heat-treated flour from an online supplier for the last few rounds with no problem. And then sifting it helps give a consistent texture – no one wants to bite into a nugget of flour in their cookie dough! Anyways - the second I get going with the flour I immediately recognized something was off. But this time the smell of the flour was so strong, like it had been over-toasting (burned, even?!) in the heating process. To test my theory, I go back to the home-sized 5Q mixer and whip up a mini batch, perfectly measured – and sure enough, that flour taste is coming on strongggggg as hell. #notchill
I had to go forward using the flour given the time crunch I was in – but altered the recipe to try and reduce the amount of flour to sugar ratio in hopes that the sweet factor can takeover a little bit. So, we did what we could do and it’s given us a week’s worth of dough that is pretty tasty but it’s SERIOUSLY paining me that it isn’t our exact recipe. Consistency is everything – and I want everyone’s first, second, and 1000th taste of DOUGHP to be the exact same. This is my first soiree with a supplier issue and we’ll now be going back to the old days and heat-treating the flour ourselves! Best to do all you can in-house vs. trusting a supplier to keep their process the same.
So we’re out slangin’ the cookie dough (and those s’more baked cookies!) this week, but we’ll be back to the original glorious, buttery, sugary, amazing recipe ASAP!
Thanks for understanding. You guys are pretty doughp :)
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