We were lucky to catch up with Brooke Orist recently and have shared our conversation below.
Brooke, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Alright, so you had your idea and then what happened? Can you walk us through the story of how you went from just an idea to executing on the idea
While working at my non-profit job, I experimented with cookie recipes for a year, as baking in high altitude is different from normal baking. Once I finally found one that I liked, and received positive feedback from friends and family, I asked four friends if they wanted to start a business with me and to my surprise they all said yes. We met and I proposed the business idea and name to them and we began working to make the idea come to life. I purchased the domain name and registering the business with the state while we also began sourcing a logo from various resources. We also worked at developing other cookie recipes so we would have more than one cookie to offer. I knew I didn’t want to take out a loan right away and baking cookies for delivery would be too difficult to do from home, so I called around to a couple local bakeries to see if we could rent their kitchen on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. We found one and began to buy small equipment and ingredients to start the business. From that initial meeting to delivering our first cookies was a three month period of long days and lots of behind the scenes work.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
As far back as I can remember, I have had a love for food, and especially baked goods. I would sit on our living room stairs and draw out plans for restaurants and bakeries I wanted to own when I was older. Food excited me and I dreamed of attending culinary school, hoping to soak up anything and everything I could learn about food.
Due to life circumstances upon graduation from high school, I decided to not pursue culinary school and instead went to a liberal arts college. There I studied anthropology and learned how vibrant our world is filled with people and experiences and culture. I learned to love and appreciate the people that fill this world.
A few years ago, I moved back to my home state, Colorado, and being surrounded by the support of family and friends decided to make my childhood dream come true and start a business. I knew I wanted to own a bakery where we made quality products, but I also wanted it to be more than just good food.
Sasquatch Cookies is the marrying of my three greatest passions: food, people and giving. We create delicious, Sasquatch sized cookies in eleven different flavors that you can mix and match. We cause taste buds to sing and people do a little happy dance around their homes from the cookie goodness.
We care for people. It has been humbling and also super fun to be a small part of our neighbors stories. Everyday day we have people send each other cookies to let them know they care. We also partner with our local homeless shelter, Springs Rescue Mission, giving 10% of our profits to them and donate all of our day old cookies to The Marion Soup Kitchen.
Can you talk to us about how your side-hustle turned into something more.
When I initially began the business, I worked full-time at a local non-profit. I would work Monday through Friday from 8 to 4:30 at my full-time job and would work on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at Sasquatch Cookies baking and delivering cookies. It was extremely challenging working 80+ hours a week to get this business going while maintaining my full-time job. After about a year, I decided to try to go all in on the cookie business and quit my job. I moved in with family and took two, small part-time jobs as I wasn’t getting paid from the bakery yet. It was a scary time and a lot of sacrifice, but eventually paid off. I was fortunate that I was single and had the support of my family to really invest my time and energy into this business.
After another year and a half of working on the business, I decided to open a storefront. If felt like a huge hurdle and something I constantly questioned. When it did open, business sales increased significantly and I was able to quit my two side jobs and be fully employed by the bakery.
Do you have any stories of times when you almost missed payroll or any other near death experiences for your business?
There have been several moments where I thought it was the end for the bakery. The one that stands out the most for me is when I had to ask employees if I could push payroll back by a week. It felt daunting, and humiliating, to ask them for delayed payment. We had less than $5000 in the bank and had around eight staff we needed to pay in addition to rent and purchasing product. They all graciously allowed us to pay them later and we were able to stay afloat.