Owner, CT Cookie Company
Owner, CT Cookie Company
If you ask Andrea Greene how the high-end knitwear designer became the owner of a boutique bakery, there’s a pretty good chance that she’ll begin talking about vanilla extract. Not just any kind of vanilla, she’s quick to note, but a special blend of vanilla that evokes fond childhood memories.
“Many weekends and holidays, we would visit my grandmother in Indiana. And right down the street was a pharmacy where we’d buy a certain kind of vanilla,” Greene said. “My grandmother, my mom and I all loved to bake cookies and pies and that vanilla was central to almost everything we made.”
As she matured, the self-described “creative kid” became more interested in decorating and design than baking. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s Design, Architecture, Art and Planning Program and cut her teeth in the industry with six internships around the world before landing positions with fashion giants Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, Abercrombie, American Eagle, Brooks Brothers and Club Monaco, among others.
Shortly after September 11, Greene rediscovered her love of baking, turning to it as a form a stress relief. Soon her hobby became a passion she could no longer ignore. “I realized that if I wanted to give my daughter a treat with fewer than 20 ingredients in it, I had to make it myself. That was the drive behind my dream of having my own bakery.”
As Greene refined and tested her recipes on families and friends (always made with the signature vanilla with which she grew up), the Trumbull resident reached out to the Women’s Business Development Council to learn about the nuances of opening a small business, all while commuting to the City for her corporate job, where her days would often begin at 8 a.m. and end at midnight.
“Trying to learn about running a business isn’t super simple,” she said. “I met (Women’s Business Development Council Business Specialists) Carol Cheswick and Kyle Hamilton whenever I could … sometimes we would literally meet before I left for Manhattan at 6 a.m. just to run numbers or pick their brain.
In 2010, she began selling her baked goods online through her own website and through wholesale online accounts. For years, Greene kept an eye out for a reasonably-priced store front. When the “perfect” space opened up on Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield, the CT Cookie Company was born and Greene hit the ground running.
Today, one year after opening, The CT Cookie Company employs up to five employees seasonally and has doubled sales in only the last six months. She attributes her success to word of mouth about her delectable goodies, participation in highly visible events and celebrity parties and to the solid advice she gleaned from both the Women’s Business Development Council and her own corporate experience.
“When I opened my doors, I became obsessed by margins. I applied everything I learned about number crunching from working in the fashion industry to my business. And Carol reinforced the importance of building consistent sales volume and setting sales targets. She’s great about getting on your level and presenting everything in black and white,” she said. “She helped me see that one of the most important things I can do as a business owner is to build a trustworthy, loyal team so that I can delegate tasks and focus on the things that matter most.”
Keeping in family tradition, Greene sells bottles of her own vanilla extract recipe at CT Cookie Company. Despite her liberal usage of the not-so-secret ingredient in many of her goods, there’s nothing “vanilla” about the bakery that routinely sells out of its wildly popular “Quick Fix” (a sweet and savory almond toffee brittle), freshly-baked gourmet cookies, signature cakes and cupcakes. One recipe, in particular, has taken Connecticut by storm: edible cookie dough free from pathogens (think salmonella). A few mentions on local media was enough to drive foot traffic that formed lines out the door for weeks.
Greene and her family are thrilled by her success. “I knew owning my own business would be hard work, but holy cow it’s hard in a both mental and a physical way. At the same time, though, it feeds my soul. I couldn’t be happier!”
For more information visit https://ctcoco.com.