female founder feature: kristen tomlan of cookie do
we all know the best part of baking cookies is eating the raw cookie dough…whether you’re 8 or 28 (guilty!) there’s no shame in swooping in finger [or spatula] first for that little indulgence. kristen tomlan, founder + ceo of cookie do, wanted to make that little indulgence safe to eat, accessible….and fun!
so grab a cup of edible cookie dough + a spoon and read how a cookie shop trip with girlfriends turned into her making all our childhood cookie dough dreams come true. in the words of kristen….“let’s dough this!”
edible raw cookie dough. genius idea. how’d you come up with it and to what extent did you test the market as you were creating do?
i have always been a lover of unbaked cookie dough! i came up with the idea when i was with a bunch of girlfriends. we went to a cookie shop, and instead of purchasing any baked cookies, we opted for the unbaked cookie dough in their freezer instead. that was the moment that i came up with the idea – safe-to-eat & bakeable cookie dough for all to enjoy! when i first launched, i tested the concept online before i opened up our first retail store. it was the best decision i made because it gave me the ability to be flexible & see what customers really wanted before investing in brick & mortar.
you were in branding and design before launching your own business. talk to us about why branding was so important to your concept and how you thought about it before launching. has the branding or consumer messaging changed since?
branding what i lived and breathed. it was where a bulk of my professional experience was focused. creating a product is one thing, but creating a brand is really what is valuable. anyone can copy a product, but they can’t just steal your brand. since we launched, messaging has been the same, which is important because consistency is key. customers know what we stand for and what to expect.
you’re a solo founder and despite the fact that us entrepreneurs have a tendency to try to ‘do it all’…what type of team or support system do you have to help you execute your vision? who was your first hire and when did you decide to hire for the first time?
at first, i was doing it all. i had to. but as the business grew and has changed over time, i’ve added valuable people to help execute my vision and manage different parts of the company. my first hire was my executive pastry chef, brianna, who is still with me today. she’s been an integral part of the business operations from very early on!
part of being an entrepreneur and even more so a food-based entrepreneur is being able to innovate quickly. how often do you release new flavors and how do you come up with them? have you had to pivot in any way as the wellness industry has grown?
we release a new flavor every month. experimenting and recipe testing is one of the most fun parts of the job! we get our inspiration from other desserts, nostalgic treats, and sweets from all over the world! even though the wellness industry is growing, i feel strongly, more than ever, that there is always a place and time for indulgence. it’s a work hard play hard mentality – people are more conscious than ever about they they are putting into their bodies. however, when they do indulge, they really want to make it worth it. for me, i look at it as mental wellness – if it makes me happy and brings me joy, then it’s a positive.
you have a lot of competition and likely quite a few copycats. why does your customer still come to you? on the business side, do you own any intellectual property or trademarks or is there another way you “protect” your brand from copycats?
we do have trademarks to protect us, and it all goes back to creating a unique brand and experience that is difficult to replicate. sure, we have copy cats, which is a form of flattery. however, i don’t think there is anyone who is doing it truly how we are.
signature question – how did you come up with the name do?
it was the first thing i decided when i came up with the business. the name was going to be dō, spelled how “dough” is pronounced. the business was all about the dough, so i wanted the name to reflect that.
what’s next for do? (asking this question so you can talk about your cookbook coming out but feel free to add anything else!)
i have a cookbook coming out in october! hello, cookie dough is 110+ recipes to eat, bake & share! it’s been a labor of love that i have been working on for over 2 years. it’s such a great extension of me and of the brand. i can’t wait for people to be able to make safe-to-eat cookie dough at home!
where are you from? st. louis, missouri
favorite brand that does branding really well (should i say brand again): glossier, soulcycle, apple
favorite do flavor: heavenly!
is there another type of food or food category you think could use disruption? (what do did for cookie dough, dirty lemon did for lemon water, etc.) i think there is always room for innovation in food!
female founder you admire and why: julie rice, christina stembel, whitney wolfe herd
favorite restaurant in nyc: rucola or colonie (my fav neighborhood spots)
words you live by: do what makes you happy
finally, you can have your cookie dough and eat it too.
*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of kristen tomlan and cookie do
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real
all images are property of respective companies