Don’t you love the smell of fresh baked cookies? I love to bake and eat cookies but there are days when I am too tired or crazy with work to bake a fresh batch to indulge in. All the packaged dough cookies have never really been “my thing” until I read about Sweet Loren’s. Not only do the cookies taste good but they are good for you! I could never have imagined that I would enjoy eating a whole grain, dairy-free cookie and actually like it. Loren Brill, Founder of Sweet Loren’s, took time out to fill Sweet Travels in on how Sweet Loren’s came to be.
How did you get your start and why cookie dough?
I grew up in NYC. During high school, I was a yoga instructor and I worked at Levain Bakery. I loved working at Levain but I also realized I did not want to own or operate a storefront. I had graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) and I moved back to NYC where my mom and sister lived. In 2006, I finally decided to move back to LA. My decision to move was disrupted when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My entire life plans were overturned for the moment as I absorbed the news. Moving to LA was no longer an option as I started treatment in NYC and wanted to remain close to my family. During this early period after my diagnosis, I became very conscious of what I was putting into my body. I changed my diet but I still had a sweet tooth. Having studied nutrition, worked in the culinary field, and taken several cooking classes, my desire was to find a cookie that was healthy, delicious, and “place and bake”. I always enjoyed baking cookies to eat and to give away. Cookies make people happy and I enjoyed seeing people’s reactions when I would share a batch of fresh baked cookies. I started experimenting with all natural ingredients and after trial and error came up with a winner recipe. Friends and neighbors wanted to buy my cookies. In the meantime, my health was improving and I was feeling strong. I couldn’t believe how good I felt given what I had been through but by 2007 I had a clean bill of health. I had compiled a binder of my recipes and products and started to sell my cookies.
How are Sweet Loren’s cookies different from the competition?
When I was shopping around for healthy alternatives back in 2006, there was not a healthy cookie dough option. Cookies make people smile. Everyone loves the smell of a cookie in the oven and I wanted to recreate that experience as a healthy option without the mess. Our cookies are packaged in a convenient manner so you can open and cook one or 12 at a time. People love portion control and we offer the flexibility to bake as many as you want. We have filled a void and we have made baking cookies fun, easy and tasty for our customers.
It must be so hard to launch a product in the food industry without a store front. How did you do it?
In 2010 I entered a baking contest and won. I quit my full-time job and decided to launch Sweet Loren’s. I took a WIBO (Workshop in Business Opportunities) class that helped me formulate a business plan. I also was admitted into the Columbia Community Business Program in 2010 that allowed me to further develop and refine my business plan.
Next, I was introduced to a buyer at Whole Foods. I brought a plate of cookies for him to taste and the rest is history. I had no website, no full-scale production facility, but clients who wanted my product. The next 7 months proved to be very busy as I managed to get everything in place to run our business. Within the year, we had won the Next Big Small Brand award. I then met Hoda Kotb at an event and she invited me on the Today show, which was incredibly exciting. Our next task was to develop the brand and design the packaging. Our end product is one that I am proud of. We have provided a healthy alternative to people and I hope we are changing the way some people eat sweets.
Why not open a store?
Having worked in a bakery growing up, I knew I wanted to own and run my own business but not as a storefront. I love making it easy for people to bake their own cookies in their own home. Nothing beats the smell of cookies in the oven!
What flavors do you offer and where can I buy Sweet Loren’s?
We offer 3 flavors: Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Oatmeal Cranberry. You can find us in the refrigerator aisle at Whole Foods, Shoprite, Wegmans, and The Fresh Market. For a full list check out our website: http://sweetlorens.com/store-locator/.
On a side note from Moira McCullough…We had our 1st snow day recently. I surprised my three children with 2 packages of Sweet Loren’s cookies. They have discerning palates so when they saw the packages they eyed them skeptically. “We can make our own they suggested.” Our family loves to bake so it is not a chore to bake fresh cookies. I asked them to be open-minded and give these cookies a try. The taste test was a success! My kids loved the “plate and bake” philosophy but more than that, they loved the taste.