Cookies for a Cause is a Brooklyn-based cookie company, founded by friends Alex - an Art Director - and Liz - a corporate attorney. Feeling disheartened after the most recent U.S election results, they turned their shared passion for baking and cookie decorating into a business that gives back to the causes they love. Cookies for a Cause started up an impromptu fundraising project, with proceeds from cookie sales going to the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, the Natuaral Resources Defence Council, and the International Refugee Assistance Project. It’s blossomed into a small business, as they sold out consistently and garnered the attention of many sweet-toothed New Yorkers. Cookies for a Cause provides Alex and Liz a platform to engage with their community, while also creating an income stream to continue supporting organizations they care deeply about. And yes, the cookies taste damn good too! We had a chance to connect with them this summer to ask them about female entrepreneurship, social good, and the best places to eat in NYC.
When did you both meet? Was it a baker bond right away?
Liz: I met Alex through my husband, Adam, about four-ish years ago. Alex was actually in Adam's wedding party, and soon he'll be in hers. Our baking bond didn't form until recently. Over the holidays in 2016 we took a cookie decorating class together and that was where it all started. We were both cookie obsessed.
Alex: I actually used to be on an improv comedy team with Liz's husband, Adam. So I knew him for a couple of years before he met Liz. I was delighted when he found her because suddenly I had an awesome new friend. We became closer over the years, and the baker bond actually only formed when Liz invited me to a cookie decorating class last winter, and I was HOOKED.
What prompted you to build your company with social good in mind?
Liz: We originally started CFAC as a fundraising vehicle first and have stumbled into entrepreneurship. We are figuring out the business side as we go along, but being passion-driven helps keep us going as we navigate new territory.
Alex: We both felt a bit defeated after the most recent election, and with the cookie decorating class coinciding with all the anxiety we were feeling, we figured combining the two would be a great way to release some stress while also raising money to combat those feelings. Plus, we had both already donated all we could to these causes, so starting Cookies for a Cause was an easy way to continue to contribute financially without going broke.
The causes you support are varied; can you tell us a bit more about why you chose these organizations to support? Do you have a personal connection to any of them?
Liz: Hope you're ready to get political! CFAC is unapologetically progressive. We chose our causes because they are on the frontlines, protecting our civil liberties and our most marginalized communities.
Alex: We contribute to causes that are politically relevant, and also align with our desire to help others. We want to make sure that our community (and our country) is safe, healthy and welcoming for everyone regardless of race, gender or religious views. I think that because we are both women and also children of immigrants, we felt like the statements being made by the current administration were particularly personal. The causes we chose sprinkle a little bit of that love over everyone.
What has been your most memorable cookie baked to date?
Liz: We did a large order of custom negroni cookies for Love and Victory as part of Negroni Week. It was definitely our most ambitious project, with a large number of cookies and a very labor intensive design. But they turned out great and we were so happy to participate in a small way in Negroni Week and the related charitable efforts. As for expansion, Alex and I both have pretty intense day jobs (Alex works in design and I'm a corporate attorney), so we are baby stepping things with CFAC.
You both live and work in New York City, one the world's great food cities. For our readers taking a trip to NYC soon, any favourite spots for food or drinks to recommend?
Liz: Where to start?! For baked goods, I'm a big fan of The Good Batch and Ovenly. Lucali in Brooklyn for pizza (it's worth the wait!). And for ice cream, Ample Hills (I might be addicted to their Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream).
Alex: This is my favorite topic, i could go on for hours. Brooklyn has some serious gems, and since I live there, I'm a little biased. In Manhattan: San Marzano in the East Village is a delightful and affordable Italian restaurant. You can build your own pasta, enjoy some delicious wine and the desserts are pretty great. Beyoglu, on the Upper East Side is AMAZING Mediterranean food. Grab a seat outside, order the Mezze platter, and enjoy dipping the warm bread into all the yummy goodness while you watch all the people go by. In Brooklyn my favorites are Buttermilk Channel for brunch (you HAVE to try this place-- get the cheddar waffles!) and Palo Santo for Mexican. It's on the first level of a brownstone, and is so warm and cozy and the food feels so welcoming and authentic. One time they got our order totally wrong, but we didn't say anything because the dishes were so amazing and we didn't want them to take them away. It's THAT good.
Speaking from your experience- For young women out there aspiring to be entrepreneurs, what's the one thing they should avoid?
Liz: Competition. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I truly believe that if you want to be successful, you should find like-minded entrepreneurs who can help you learn and grow. There's a wonderful community of bakers in Brooklyn and NYC and lots of "cookiers" on social media. I've been able to learn so much from them, not just in terms of baking skills, but also tips for how to manage and grow a business.
Alex: Avoid hesitation! Starting a new company is scary, but if you have an idea, then you should go for it! Starting out as a side project helped us take the pressure off as we figure out how to grow. If you are truly passionate about something then it's definitely worth giving it a shot.
Do you have a food, wine or cocktail business that's making the world a better place? We want to hear from you! Contact us here.