I’ve seen plenty of small-time cookie businesses on my Instagram feed lately. Some have even sparked my curiosity enough to buy and try, like The Alcoholic Baker and Chew My Booze, the latter of whom we’ve previously featured.
The saturation of cookie brands online forces these businesses to find a niche in order to cater to specific customer demands. And as you can probably tell, my demand is boozy cookies.
Catherine, who founded The Cookies Bar, isn’t too phased by competitors out there.
“The whole cookie mania situation only actually started towards the end of last year, probably when people saw that the existing sellers were having very good business and they also wanted a piece of the pie,” she observed.
She considers herself lucky, being one of the earlier brands to join a market that wasn’t too competitive at the time. With enough loyal customers supporting her and keeping business alive, it solidified her choice in leaving a banking job that used to earn her a 5-figure salary.
Taking Out The ‘N’ In Banker
The 35-year-old told Vulcan Post that though she’s been a banker in the sales industry for 9 years, she’s always wanted to be a baker. “The money was good and it helped me pay for my house, my car, etc. but I never really got much happiness out of it,” admitted Catherine.
So, she quit her banking job in December 2019 after getting engaged to her boyfriend of 6 years, and launched The Cookies Bar in May 2020. That was mostly because the pandemic terminated their plans of travelling to Japan.
Of course, business wasn’t thriving from day 1. It started slow, with orders coming in gradually from Malaysians who stumbled across her page. The fear of failing would always creep into the back of the baker’s mind, especially as a former salaried person.
But Catherine’s grateful as having an online business means dodging the costs of rent and hiring staff. With a capital expenditure of RM5,000, she purchased additional baking tools and stocked up on premium ingredients to bake and sell her first 2 flavours.
“At the beginning, it was totally a one-woman show. Baking, packaging, doing deliveries, buying ingredients, replying to all the DMs, [prepping] the cookie dough in the evening, washing…” she listed.
Catherine also shared that it was actually the deliveries portion of the business that was her biggest challenge. Packing orders not only took up a lot of her time, but she realised how expensive courier services could be. Additionally, she didn’t want to charge customers an exorbitant price for deliveries alone, just to indulge in her desserts.
Thus, Catherine would sometimes absorb a portion of the delivery charges or even drive to customers’ homes to deliver the cookies herself, especially when she first started out.
Since then, she’s roped in her brother to help with deliveries, and her mum for cleanups. However, the passionate baker is insistent on being the only baker, meticulous about the products’ consistency.
“I’m willing to sacrifice quantity (more money) for quality. I don’t know about other people but for me, starting my own business was about taking action,” affirmed the solo-preneur. She even attributed this quality control to the stability of her business today, with 70% of orders coming from regulars.
A Cookie Is Born
Beginning with 2 humble chocolate flavours at first, Catherine has since expanded her product line to now offer 12 variants. Each cookie is priced between RM7-RM9, depending on the flavour.
From Dark Choc Chunks to The Matcha Mania and Brown Butter S’mores, each chunky cookie is indulgent and chewy. You can read about our review of them through our sister brand, Discover KL, where we rated one of them a 9/10. “The only reason why we left 1 point off is just because we believe there’s always room for improvement,” my colleague wrote.
To craft a new cookie flavour, Catherine would repeatedly bake and taste the goods, batch by batch. Sometimes, family and friends play as Masterchef judges that would try and judge her confectioneries while giving honest feedback. Ultimately, before a new cookie is launched, it has to be “Catherine Approved”, said the baker.
“In the end, after many rounds of tweaking and improvement, a new flavour of The Cookies Bar’s cookie is born,” she added.
Thus far, the happy-go-lucky baker carefully explained that she’s unable to give us exact figures of her business’s profits and revenue. She said instead, “I just know that I’m making money, that’s for sure. It is probably less than what I used to make in banking as one of the top salespeople last time, but that’s ok because I love what I do now.”
Furthermore, she admitted that The Cookies Bar isn’t so much of a business to her, and more so of a hobby. That being said though, she hopes to open up her own bakery where she can sell her cookies and other baked goods as well.
Maybe treating [The Cookies Bar] this way was not a good business model, but thank God it still somehow works for me. I don’t have a business plan. There are no business meetings… I just focus on creating and baking the best possible cookies I can make. If my cookies taste great and my customers love them, then everything else will somehow fall into place.
Catherine, baker and founder of The Cookies Bar.
Featured Image Credit: Catherine, baker and founder of The Cookies Bar