Queen City Cookies Expands Bakery Cafe

We’re thrilled to expand our bakery cafe this month! We’ve repurposed the rectory in the  old St. Pius X Church complex, which I bought last year. After months of removing the awful wood paneling a la 1970′s and drop ceilings which adorned each room, we are finally happy to say, come on in!

Best of all, we’ve partnered with the wonderful Matt Madison, the sweetheart behind Madisono’s Gelato & Sorbet. This is Matt’s first retail shop, so we’re delighted to expose our fans to his wonderful small batch premium gelato. And bonus, Matt’s created flavors you can only find at our new cafe. Hello! Maple Cinnamon Schnecken Gelato. Perfect for the holidays!

Here’s story from the Business Courier that tells more about our exciting adventure: Queen City Cookies Assembles Super Friends of Cincinnati

Team Building

Who would have thought this triple Aires would come to appreciate the word team? As an only child, it’s been a journey to arrive at the place that I authentically view the collective parts as fun, as life affirming, as a reward, as oxygen, as a gift to learn from, as a blessing to be with every day.

Here’s look at the spontaneous moment created by one of our team during a team building trip to Kenosha this month. I’m blessed by each of these amazing people every day!Image

The Creative Process

As part of our ongoing Q & A series, here’s a look into our creative process. What steps do you undertake when you create?

Q: For you, it seems product design is an art. Would you say experimentation is part of product design?

A: That’s an interesting question. I didn’t think about my creative process until you asked. Now I realize my creative process is radically different based on the distribution chain of our products.

In my personal life, I love to be outrageous, mixing this and that, always playing with new ingredients and technique. In our bakery, however, we have two distinct customers, wholesale or retail.  It is a lot easier to be more creative with our retail products. It’s a process of “wouldn’t this be fun” or “what if we” or filling a seasonal niche or topical whim—think Downton Abbey or The Great Gatsby. The volume of production is low and transient, so there’s more room for play.

Remarkably, I don’t think I experiment at all with our wholesale division of baked goods. The pressure with each product is very intense. There’s so much money at risk, the goal is to hit a home run with each product. There’s consideration on what exists in the marketplace currently, with an eye toward trends, the availability and cost of ingredients, shelf life, fragility of the product (you can’t make it if you can’t ship it), efficiency of production and packaging, repeatability, scalability, and price point.

Then, we have to determine if we have the equipment to even create the product. With only a few exceptions, an idea takes place in my mind, lives in my head for some time as I consider all the options, then I do the due diligence as to the viability of the product.

There’s no point creating a magical product if we can’t reproduce on a large scale. The financial commitment to ingredients, machinery, packaging, and marketing collateral is so great; it’s difficult to take a whimsical approach to wholesale production. We just printed 80k cookie boxes. To create a new flavor requires a bit commitment, once you’re in the wholesale chain. And at a certain point, you cannibalize yourself, as there’s only so much room on the store shelf. All of that curtails experimentation. That’s why we love our food truck so much! We’re free to let our artistry really shine thereImage

Finding Inspiration

My entire life is recorded in the products and experience of Queen City Cookies. Quirky comments people make in passing, travel, random shopping experiences, remembering snippets of my favorite books, stories on NPR, my imagination, friends stories. Seeing a new color. I once created an entire ad based on seeing a flower at Kroger. Everyone and everyone is an inspiration. I wrote short stories about the signature elephant adorning each of our cookie boxes, and each detail on the elephant — from the name, the dress, the ornamentation–is reflective of something or someone in my life. Megan Hall, our bakery manager, and Lisa Ballard, our graphic designer, have the patience of saints. No matter how wonderful something they did is, I always ask how can we make it better. I know I drive them crazy, but generally, we always come out with a superior product.
 
I recently attended the Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within weekend, where Tony spoke of the difference between good and outstanding. It’s just 3 millimeters. For such a tiny effort, why not step up and be remarkable? It’s much more satisfying than being being mediocre. I am astonished that people settle for so little, when so much more is possible. At Queen City Cookies, we never settle. That’s our commitment to quality and you.

In Business: Doing Good

I am asked frequently what charities speak to my heart and why? ImageImageThere’s an endless supply of organizations that create magic day each day. So many, in fact, it is hard to know where to begin. One holds a special place in my heart. I started Queen City Cookies with one goal in mind: as a tool to fund my philanthropic desires and serve the community. It’s frustrating not to be able to give to everyone, as each is so deserving.
Queen City Cookies Art Camp began with Happen, Inc. as a way to bring art to underserved kids in Northside. To watch that program expand is a joy. WordPlay, also in Northside is also a favorite. They work tirelessly to support youth from all over Cincinnati with literacy, life skills, and more. All of these programs are free and open to anyone in Cincinnati.  Having been a recalcitrant student, I love groups that create learning experiences through fun.
Another group I love is quite special. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a conservation and animal preservation group that cares for orphaned elephants and black rhinos. They are one of the best. I look forward to visiting them next year. Their web site is http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
 
 

Herbs & Cookies. Why Not?

We had an awesome day today sharing our cookies at a biggs Remke grocery in Hyde Park. One of the more upscale grocery’s in the area, it was fantastic to see the expressions of joy and amazement in people when they smiled and said, “wow, that’s good!” after tasting our cookies.

One person made me laugh, however, made me laugh out loud, leaving me to reflect upon the limitations of people’s palate and thoughts about food.

In this case, I was sharing the flavor profile of our sofi award-winning Rosemary Sesame Shortbread Cookie. A more savory cookie, this outstanding cookie of the year nominee is a crunchy delight, studded with sesame and sunflower seeds and makes a fine friend to wine and cheese.

When I mentioned the rosemary, my listener turned on a dime, exiting with a stern warning, “You can’t mix herbs with a cookie!” and bolted the scene of such culinary debauchery. After laughing (after all this was a 2012 nominee for outstanding cookie of the year by the NASFT!), I thought how many of us (myself included!) limit our lives by denying the possibility of the unfamiliar.

A favorite chef, Dave Tayor, of La Poste fame and now the inspiration behind Django Western Taco, has tried to convince me beef tongue is fantastic. I’m not buying it. Well, after today, I can see how silly I am. Our rosemary sesame cookie is a best seller. Maybe the beef tongue is just as good. Well, maybe. I’ll let you know.

And, maybe this is a great time to look at all the ways we limit not only our taste buds from new experiences, but our entire lives. How often do I limit my friends, new vistas, and ideas based on archaic, limited beliefs. It’s past spring, but not to late to clean out worn out thinking and replace it with possibility!

Go ahead. Try something new! Your taste buds will thank you! And so will your spirit!