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April 27, 2020 50 min
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. This is more than a proverb-- it’s the real story of Kristen Tomlan, founder of DO, the original gourmet edible & bakeable cookie dough confectionery. After visiting a Philadelphia cookie shop, Kristen was inspired to create cookie dough that was safely edible—something that didn’t really exist on the market at the time.  She tag-teamed with her husband to make cookie dough into an experience, and a business, all while holding down her career job as a designer at a brand consultant firm. Then, out of the blue, illness left her on life support and enduring a three week hospital stay. As she recovered, Kristen realized her therapy of baking made her happy, and eventually she decided she was all in.  As challenging as it was, before she knew it, her business that started with baking in her tiny Brooklyn apartment grew through word of mouth and a proactive social media presence. There were lines out the door for nearly a year, and today her unique take on the formerly forbidden treat is a viral success and has inspired fans worldwide including A-list celebrities. Now the company with a mission to spread joy employs 55 people, and since opening her shop in New York City’s Greenwich Village, she’s opened a series of successful pop-ups in cities throughout the country, served over one million customers through in person and online, become an author, launched the first-ever edible cookie dough at-home baking mixes, partnered with brands like Bloomingdales, KitchenAid, and Williams Sonoma, and caught the attention of some of the biggest publications out there. Kristen joins Socialfly co-founder Stephanie Cartin for a conversation about building her business and career, and describes her journey to success, including: why Kristen’s actual customers became the best possible test market; the mission to teach people how to eat --and make-- safe cookie dough at home; the one thing Kristen wishes she had done before she started her own bakery that would have kept her from having to reinvent the wheel; why she launched the business online first instead of her original vision of a physical storefront; what happened in the scary moment she decided to tell her boss she was leaving her job; the challenge of fertility treatments while building a successful business; living by doing you, trusting your gut, and hell yes or hell no; and a very yummy in-studio taste test. Plus, a surprise.
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