It may sound crazy...
but our story starts wayyyy back in 1994 when I got my baking start as a kid
peering over the counter as Mimi, my long time baby-sitter taught me the baking
basics. Mimi was (and still is!) like a member of the family – together we
baked cookies, pies, brownies + more. Some were even entered into the local 4-H
competition at the county fair! We ARE based in Iowa after all. With Mimi’s
guidance & baking expertise, we received blue ribbons for our baked goods, arts
& crafts. It’s here that I discovered my early love of creativity & making things.
After college, like many business majors – I got my very first entry level
job at a bank. And although, it felt a little dull & boring – all was well….until
I got laid off after just three weeks on the job! Yep – enter the most recent
I was baking A TON,
making messes & mountains of
dishes in my parent’s home kitchen, I decided to start selling my creations at
the local farmer’s market. This “hobby” quickly turned into a full-time baking
business – offering wedding cakes, birthday cakes, cupcakes, cake balls & desserts to our community & even some local restaurants.
The stress of the baking business soon turned into full blown anxiety & depression – ultimately, I sold my baking business to go back to the financial sector.
But I still felt like I couldn’t find my place in the world. It seemed as if my creativity had been shut off. It was around this time that my boyfriend started a Café in our hometown. A spark. I kept my distance but helped with menu creation, design & graphics for the small eatery.
Then, I was gifted a brand new, bright red Kitchenaid Mixer for Christmas. The fire was re-ignited. I start baking up breads, cinnamon rolls, cookies & cakes for the small café. And soon after, my boyfriend & I decided to open a stand-alone bakery.
Fast forward 6 months or so – my boyfriend is now my fiancé & the bakery is now a full blown restaurant, brewery & bar. Whoa. Talk about a plot twist.
And here’s the thing about this new project – it was the epitome of Murphy’s Law. Ghosts of bad construction past screamed from the walls, what could go wrong (& cost buckets of money) absolutely DID go wrong – we were hanging on by a carb & a dream. Literally. That first year we almost lost everything more times than I can count on one hand. If it wasn’t for our banker, turned friend, who believed in us even more than we believed in ourselves – the story would have ended here.
Ultimately, we persisted. We turned the corner & became a busy, successful & fun restaurant, bar & bakery. I was creating, baking, cooking, marketing & managing. It was a lot of work, but it was great! For a while at least.
That Spring our town experienced record breaking flooding – businesses were destroyed. Our Downtown community was under water. The main access point to our restaurant was shut down due to flooding for 4 months. And we almost lost everything yet again.
And although, we ultimately survived this crazy series of bad luck events, things were never quite the same. I was working like crazy only to feel like I could never get ahead.
Motivated by the fear of losing everything once again I racked my brain to think of a solution to get us through the next Midwest winter. The cookies we sold at the restaurant were a best seller. The Chocolate
Chip Cookies to be exact. Hmmmmm. An idea.
I decided to go for it!
I thought of a name, created a menu & launched this new concept – Cookies & Dreams was born. At first, we just sold cookies out of our restaurant’s bakery case while we searched for our own brick & mortar store.
Enter Covid. Sh*t. Panic ensues. Are we going to survive? What
about our staff? How long is this going to last? (spoiler alert: a LONG time)
We continued to offer take out at the restaurant & sold our cookies in the bakery case for call ahead & curbside service. Pretty quickly, we had to bring back our entire bakery staff + some to keep up with the cookie demand! How
pleasantly surprising this was!
We soon learned that this cookie idea born out of desperation, offered a way for people to celebrate, connect & share joy
in this new normal of “6 ft of separation, lock down & quarantine.”
Today, we have three storefront locations,
four more opening yet this year
& we ship our cookies nationwide. Cookies & Dreams is more than just making really, really, really good cookies although we think they’re delicious!
Cookies & Dreams is about joy, connection & celebration. It’s about never giving up on your dream & following your heart. Cookies & Dreams strives to empower women, show the world what can happen when you refuse to give up on your dreams & be the bright spot in communities across the
Midwest & hopefully someday….the world! Surrounded by an immensely talented
& passionate team called the Dream Team – we are baking up sprinkle studded smiles each & every day.
We dream about cookies. What do you dream about?