These are new things we’re bringing to the weekend markets this Fall – pecan pie bars with a shortbread crust. I have a distinct association with them which I won’t share at this time, but they are quite delicious and I think everyone who bought them last Saturday would agree. It’s always nice when people come back to the table for seconds. This week we’re getting ready for the Chile Pepper Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It’s our biggest event every year and one of the only events where we “work” the booth as a family, and I put work loosely in quotes because well, let’s face it – Mark does most of the work. The kids get super excited about the Chile Festival every year and this year we’ll have our friend Megan working the table as well. Come say hello if you attend – it’s supposed to be another gorgeous warm day on Saturday.
But this post isn’t about cookies or the business. Fall is officially here. I feel like summer is bookended by months of complex emotions and transitions. September in particular is a month of change and renewal, but also when the natural world around us dies down and retreats into deep hibernation. It isn’t surprising then that it’s often a time for re-evaluation – of life, career, friends, relationships. I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships in particular these past few weeks and how it can feel like it’s in constant flux. All these online relationships complicate things too. It’s easy to come under the illusion that you have a lot of friends, but who, really, are your friends? I find myself digging deep, back to older friendships lately because there’s history there and the familiarity is comforting.
A few different fiends of mine and I have debated this theory on whether or not social media and texting contributes to an increase in flakiness among people. I’m totally generalizing here, but because we’re always (over)connected all of the time and chatting on various platforms, plans get loosely made, but sometimes lack follow through and there’s this general acceptance that it’s par for the course these days. Would you agree? I could be wrong, but I don’t remember this being so prevalent in ancient times before the internet. When you made plans or agreed to get together, you really meant it back in those days (or so it seems)! It’s sort of unthinkable now to pick up a phone and talk to someone to make plans. The irony of it all is that sometimes all the chatter and online noise magnifies our loneliness.
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Pretty sure I’m not the only one sad that summer is coming to a close. We’re still sorting out our sleep schedules from being on the West Coast for a few weeks and settling back into Brooklyn life. School starts in a few days and I’m feeling that restlessness that awakens once Labor Day happens. We usually do a summer sale but we had a huge order to fulfill before we closed up shop so we’re having a Fall sale instead. Take 20% off your total order today and tomorrow with code WELCOMEFALL. Valid on our website and Etsy store.
Happy Labor Day!
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I have a friend who has a similar loathing of self promotion as I do and we talk about it often: how we feel like assholes if we tweet about a new product or project more than once, how we cringe at the idea of selfies and building our “personal brands”. Maybe it’s hard for us to wrap our brains around that last one because we have worked on legit branding projects at ad agencies at our freelance “day jobs”. The Gap is a brand. Starbucks is a brand. But I have a hard time thinking of people as brands unless they’re Oprah or Martha. Are you a brand? Am I a brand? No. Most people are just people.
Now, I understand why the idea of building a personal brand is considered important. You want to build a platform to promote or sell something, I get that, but maybe we should be focusing on selling our expertise, our experience, our talents or our products rather than selling our online personas. I think only a small percentage of people can sell themselves solely on their personalities.
So, we do have a business and you could even call our business a brand, and I realize that this is where things get a bit complicated because a brand isn’t just about the products anymore–it’s about an image and a lifestyle. Small biz owners are often tied to their brand image (have I given you a headache yet?) because we’re often the voices of our businesses on social media. So are we–by extension–promoting ourselves? (oh god, this is getting confusing). I’ll fully admit, I have admiration for people who are good self promoters who can do it all day, every day, on the hour. They have balls. Do they not care about overexposure? (That is a thing!) Do they not care about annoying people with a constant barrage of “me me me” or risking being labeled a narcissist? I don’t want to be that person on Facebook or Twitter who posts about every single thing that’s happening to them. Or worse, what about those vague teaser posts? (“OMG this is the best day ever! I have news! BIG news! But I can’t tell you for another year!”) I have to wonder if at some point it crosses a line between self promotion and seeking validation. Self promotion is hard, but not because I don’t believe in our product. I think our cookies are awesome, but I don’t want to be tweeting or blogging about it every day (edited to include a link to the shop. See what I did there?) But you know what? Good self promoters do promote their stuff everyday. They understand that it’s easy to generate excitement around a new product launch, but that there’s a cliff and quick drop off. The real challenge is sustaining the buzz, and how do you stay visible and relevant? By promoting your stuff.
We rely on social media for the majority of our marketing. We don’t take out ads on blogs or publications (I think we’ve taken out ads twice in the 6 years we’ve been in business), we’ve never hired a PR firm, and we don’t have a marketing team. This is it and this has pretty much been it since we started. Maybe if we invested in marketing, our reach and audience might grow larger and quicker, but we’ve been fine with the pace of our growth and letting it happen organically. That said, I know I need get over myself and promote the hell out of our business because if we don’t do it, no one else will. Having a great product is nothing if no one can find it. So I’ll see you guys on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Will I be promoting this blog post? Yeah, probably not.
P.S., this succulent doesn’t need any self promoting; it’s getting by on its looks alone. I saw it at home goods store in Rockport, Massachusetts and had to take it home. I’ve never seen flowers on a succulent quite like this before!
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Is it time to think about Mother’s Day already? Well the trees are finally in bloom with flowers, magnolias and young leaf buds, so I say yes!
This year’s Mother Day gift box includes Cinnamon shortbread cookies sandwiched with a Dulce de Leche filling. Order deadline this year is May 4th. Available on our site or on Etsy.
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Owning a baking company requires consistency in product quality in every batch. Mark does admit to getting bored sometimes when he has to bake the same cookies day after day. There isn’t much time for experimentation when he’s busy fulfilling orders, but he likes to play around in the kitchen when he does find a little free time. Lately, he’s been making Rice Krispie treats. You’ve seen these if you follow me on Instagram and they’ve been selling out at the Brooklyn Flea every week. Last weekend he made S’more Krispie Treats, a variation on the open faced S’mores that he’s made for years, but we haven’t brought these to the Flea in 5 years. He was pretty excited to be torching up marshmallows again on Saturday.
My personal favorite, however, are the Brown Butter Toffee Rice Krispie Treats. Made with whisky marshmallows, they’re blended with pecans and house-made toffee. So good! He’s also been baking other large cookies that are exclusive to weekend markets – a Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie and an Oatmeal Date Pretzel Cookie. All have consistently sold out this month by the end of the weekend.
We get asked periodically why we still do the Brooklyn Flea after all these years. Sometimes we question it ourselves after a slow day. We aren’t one of those food stands that have crowds and lines of people all day, and it can sometimes be deflating when your booth is next to a vendor that does, but without a retail store (and with no plans to open one) the Flea continues to be a valuable opportunity to meet directly with customers and for Mark to get out there and represent his products. These past few weekends, however, have been golden and with the addition of these newer products, our booth has been getting steady crowds all day. It’s been a good feeling to be that booth for a change.
We have one more weekend to go for the weekend Flea in Williamsburg and then we’ll be off for a weekend until the Flea goes back outdoors on April 5th.
Oh, and press. A huge photo of our Massaman Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies in Food & Wine. April issue out in stands now.
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