We recently connected with Alice Chen and have shared our conversation below.
Alice, appreciate you joining us today. Coming up with the idea is so exciting, but then comes the hard part – executing. Too often the media ignores the execution part and goes from idea to success, skipping over the nitty, gritty details of executing in the early days. We think that’s a disservice both to the entrepreneurs who built something amazing as well as the public who isn’t getting a realistic picture of what it takes to succeed. So, we’d really appreciate if you could open up about your execution story – how did you go from idea to execution?
Being the obsessive dog mom that I am, I bought dog bandanas and leashes from so many places, but it was hard to find a brand that fits my vibe or the size of my dogs. So I decided to start my own dog accessories company. The first few months was probably the hardest because it involved so much research, from business formation paperwork to product research. Once the administrative tasks were out of the way, was when things started to be more exciting with marketing and branding.
With every new product we release we have to go through the entire cycle from product research to testing to marketing and then to launch and depending on the product, the process is a little different. With our new leashes and collar lines, the R&D phase took about 4 months since there are so many things to consider from hardware to webbing material. We’d test the products on our own dogs to really stress test them and once we’re happy with the quality then we have to figure out costs and pricing before we can even plan the launch.
Alice, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Cookies & Co. is a San Diego based small business that sells handmade dog accessories including, bandanas, leashes, collars and more! Our company name is inspired by our dogs Oreo and Toffee, hence Cookies & Co! We also love highlighting local dog biscuit companies so we package a locally sourced dog treat with every one of our orders. Not to mention, we donate 10% to local animal rescues, so every order helps give back.
There are a lot of dog accessories brands out there, but I really wanted my products to be known for quality. After buying from many brands, I found that the quality just wasn’t where it could be so it really pushed me to start my own company. Lastly, I also wanted to make sure I treat my customers like friends, there are so many larger brands out there who leave their customers on read when something goes wrong or if they have questions and that’s something I wanted to make sure doesn’t happen with my brand.
How do you keep in touch with clients and foster brand loyalty?
Most of my clients come from our instagram community and local vendor markets. We really foster the instagram community of dogs by actively engaging with their content and following their life updates, even when it doesn’t relate to our business at all. We really do enjoy interacting and meeting with our clients and treat them as friends more than we treat them as clients.
Sometimes when things get rough (ruff), we’ll also support their pup’s gofundme because they’ve supported us in the past the least we can do is to support when we can.
I truly believe, one of the biggest reasons people support small businesses is not only the mission but the people and paws behind the business.
Can you share one of your favorite marketing or sales stories?
One of the biggest risk we took as a small business is actually accepting a larger corporate deal. With being only one person making all the products, I was very nervous I wouldn’t be able to support larger deals and would have to turn opportunities down.
When the Carte Hotel here in San Diego, reached out wanting custom bandanas for their dog guests, I was shocked they found me and even more shocked they wanted to support a local small business rather than a large company. I was extremely nervous I wouldn’t be able to meet deadlines but the hotel was super supportive and worked with me on timelines and smaller quantity deliverables in increments which I was super grateful for.
Personally, when I get nervous I tend to turn things down too soon instead of taking the risk, and in this case I’m so glad I took the risk and met some amazing business partners.
- Website: https://cookiesandco.shop/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.cookiesandco/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/the.cookiesandco
Erin Wiese Photography