For 30+ years, my five sisters, sister-in-law, and I have been baking Christmas cookies together. Typically, on the day after Thanksgiving, we gather at my brother’s home, which my parents built in 1954, and we bake. When we first started our tradition, we had about a dozen different recipes that we made every year, but we were always looking for new recipes to add.
About 25 years ago, we added a special recipe to our annual baking tradition. It was a rolled cookie dough with a taste that reminded us of a sugar cookie that our mom would make for us. I loved the cookie dough, but I didn’t care for the royal icing we initially tried. The thick, soft sugar cookie did not seem to be enhanced by the hard, tasteless royal icing.
So, I developed my own special almond-flavored frosting to complement the cookie. We decided that this combination was just right and Laura’s Cookies was born. We soon referred to it as the ultimate “comfort cookie.”
Q & A WITH LAURA
HOW DID LAURA’S COOKIES DEVELOP FROM THERE?
I’d been in hospital administration for my entire professional career (17 years), and in 1999 I decided that I wanted to move in a new direction. What that would be, I had absolutely no idea.
I took full advantage of career development sessions offered locally and found out a few things about myself. Most significantly, I had experiences, skill sets, and a self-awareness of my strengths and weaknesses that indicated a potential to be a successful small business owner. I was intrigued—but what business could I start?
While taking a 10-week SBA class at Sinclair Community College, I would bring a variety of cookies to get feedback from my classmates and instructor. The “comfort cookies” (now known as Laura’s Cookies) became the most requested for repeat tastings. That became the focus of my business plan. My primary challenge was to find a commercial kitchen to bake in and an outlet sell my cookies.
ENTER DLM. HOW DID IT START?
This was 21 years ago. One of my book club friends was acquainted with Scott Fox, DLM VP of Bakery, and I was able to get a meeting. I explained that I had a cookie that everyone seemed to really like, but that I needed a place to bake. Scott expressed interest and shared that DLM likes to promote quality, local products. A day later, I brought in 2-3 dozen “Laura’s Cookies” in different shapes. We met in the Oakwood Bakery manager’s office (a very pregnant Shelley Eberle). There are two things about this meeting that I will never forget. The first is Shelley opening the container, biting into a cookie, and then turning around in her chair exclaiming “this is the best cookie that I’ve ever had!” Scott tasted one and agreed with Shelley, and asked for more samples. He called the next day and asked when I could start baking!
HAS THE RECIPE CHANGED AT ALL?
The only thing that has changed is that the trans fats have been removed from the ingredients.
DID YOU EVER IMAGINE LAURA’S COOKIES WOULD HAVE GROWN INTO WHAT IT IS TODAY?
Honestly, no (insert laughter). My informal business plan when I started was to make enough cookies to cover my living expenses, save for retirement, take a couple vacations a year, and maybe have a couple of employees. Fast forward to 2021 and 5,337,000+ cookies later. Laura’s Cookies has a huge fan base, an amazing team, and a beautiful production facility at DLM.
My favorite sweet memories are those shared with me by customers. Laura’s Cookies have become a part of so many people’s lives and celebrations. Major life events have been made even more special with Laura’s Cookies. Innumerable grandchildren have been delighted when a grandparent arrives with Laura’s Cookies in hand. Corporate clients look forward to holiday gift boxes of Laura’s Cookies. A gift of a single Laura’s Cookie can brighten someone’s day. It truly brings me joy to know that there is a happy memory in every bite.