Susan Nolte has always been a very health conscious woman, one that is looking to make the world a healthier place, one cookie at a time. In 2008 she founded the May Cookie Co., an effort that came out of a vision that consisted of creating a world of healthy people who eat well, live well and smile a lot. Her next question was can this be a viable business? Originally, Susan wanted to bake and deliver delicious, wholesome cookies that had healthier ingredients than those traditionally found in stores at the time. Over time, the concept evolved into a healthy cookie mix, which allowed her to take advantage of broader consumer appeal, wider geographic reach and a longer product shelf-life.
Susan began by taking her vision to the Hartford Women Business Center in 2008 to align her with some business basics that would guide her through the challenging maze of entrepreneurship. With guidance from the business coaches at the WBC she perfected her business plan, learned marketing strategies and gained appreciation for cash flow management. Her first big challenge was to identify the right manufacturer for the three product offerings she initially developed. They are: Triple Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, Dairy-free and Egg-free Rich and Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Hearty and Wholesome Oatmeal Cranberry cookie mixes.
Her ingredients are packaged individually which is a unique departure from how most baking mixes are put together. This allows bakers to “Make a Good Cookie,” meaning, achieve homemade results with healthier ingredients. About 6 months after taking the Entrepreneurial Center class, Susan was in production, with consumer sales generated through networking contacts and low-cost high impact public relations activities using social media that leveraged relationships she had built over time. By attending her first big national trade show in September of 2009, Susan was introduced to an up-and-coming unique, “healthier-product ” on-line marketplace (www.abesmarketplace.com) that catered to her particular target audience. Also at that trade show, she was able to secure her first big retail account, a national home furnishings store. This helped her continue to build some steady cash flow while pursuing regional distribution in Whole Foods and some other strategic distribution outlets that would bolster the brand’s credibility and link May Cookie Company with a healthier lifestyle. At this point things were moving quickly for Susan, she partnered with her daughter Marissa and together sought the much needed access to capital so that they could fulfill their orders.
She was put in contact with an SBA lender specialist at the Connecticut Bank & Trust who proceeded to give Susan a jump start on her working capital. In 2009 she secured a $75,000 SBA 7(a) loan with CBT to help her with her start-up costs and the purchasing of fixtures to get her baked goods out on the market. Susan and her daughter Marissa now have a thriving business that includes both wholesale and consumer based cookie dough and pre-made cookies in many flavors. Their unique business model of offering gluten-free, vegan, whole grain, and high protein choices all with the taste and texture of homemade are what has made this mother/daughter team a sweet success.