DTC POD #324 - From 1 Kitchen to 25,000 Supermarkets: How Loren Castle's Cookie Dough Recipe Became a US Household Brand
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Plus, the whole thing is powered by AI, so your teams can spend less time on tedious, time consuming stuff and more time on developing relationships. Also, no one likes a clunky platform that takes months to onboard onto. But getting set up on Saleshub is really quick and easy. It's free to get started. The pricing will scale with your business, and with more than 1300 integrations and add ons, you can tune it to your exact needs. Visit HubSpot.com sales to start selling with sales hub. What is up, DTC pod? Welcome to today's episode. Episode where we have the pleasure of speaking with the founder and CEO of Sweet Laurens, Lauren Castle.
So, Lauren, I'll let you kick us off. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, the brand that you've built, and then we can get into all the nitty gritty.
So I'm Lauren. I started the company over ten years ago. So this is not, you know, it's that ten year overnight success story of, really, blood, sweat and tears, but also an amazing ride. And I'm from New York City. I started the business in New York City, but I actually moved to Los Angeles two weeks before COVID hit. So I've been in LA for the last four years. I then got married and now have two little girls. So my life has just changed even more over the last four years.
And I started the business really out of a personal need. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma when I was 2022, which was devastating. It was two months after I graduated college, so I was really feeling on top of the world, ready for anything. Pretty invincible, as any 22 year old feels. And woke up one morning, the lymph nodes in my neck were really swollen. Went to the doctor, was diagnosed with this type of cancer, and had to go through chemo for six months. And all the testing that had to go around that, you know, that was really what inspired me to start sweet laurens, because I started to realize how precious life was, how important health is. Like, it's everything.
If we don't have our health. We have nothing. And how much food played such an important role in my mental and physical and emotional well being. Like, I just was happier when I was eating delicious food. My body felt stronger when it was eating more nutritious food. And, you know, we eat multiple times a day. Just, I realized it's the fuel to us as human beings. And so food became much more than just food for me.
It was like, how do I make this the most delicious, enjoyable, make every cell in my body, you know, happy and inspired and at the same time, you know, nutrients into myself to give myself the strength mentally and physically, to not only overcome this cancer, but, you know, just live a thriving, healthy life for the rest of my life. So I started, I have a huge sweet tooth. I've always had a huge sweet tooth. And there just was nothing in the market that was delicious and made of really natural ingredients. And it really pissed me off because I also wasn't. I was in New York City, and, you know, if it's not in New York, it's probably doesn't exist, you know, so I. I just couldn't believe it. There were so many delicious bakeries, but there was nothing really rooted in better for you, less processed.
So I started studying nutrition and take cooking classes, and I just kept learning about less processed real food, whole food ingredients, better quality oils, better quality salts, better quality flowers, things like that. And just. I mean, it took hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tries, but I finally got to a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I thought was the best I'd ever had. And then my sister thought it was the best she ever had, and friends and family kind of fell in love with it. And that was kind of the aha of, like, everyone I give this to loves this. It's not just me. I think everyone is looking for a healthier way to satisfy their sweet tooth. And, you know, I think the world would love this.
And so that's what really kind of inspired me to start sweet Laurens.
So, Lauren, my question is, around this time, obviously, you have lymphoma. You're going through that. You're recovering. Like, when. When were you kind of, like, I have an idea of something I want to do. Was this, like, much after the recovery process, was it, like, during you were going through it and it was a way to, like, deal with it? Like, what was the process like?
Yeah, it went through stages, I think when, while I was going through training, you know, I just became obsessed with whatever I could do to keep myself healthy. I was so dedicated to making sure I was going to be healthy and not just, I guess, survive, but I really wanted to thrive. I didn't want to just get through treatment and feel like I had major ptsd or just not a great quality of life or something like that, or have to be on some super strict diet for the rest of my life because that, to me, wasn't healthy. I wanted to thrive. And so the first two months of treatment, I really, really was very depressed. And I've never been a depressed person. I really lost all my energy. I lost my, you know, feeling kind of sexy or pretty.
I lost kind of my connection to socialize. Like, I just went into a little hole and really went to survival mode, and it really felt, like, rock bottom. Like, I just was so unsure what the world was. And the benefit, the only benefit to that dark time was that I did a ton of soul searching. Like, it helped me just, like, strip everything away and. And, you know, it had me think about what does bring me joy, like, what lights me up, like, what makes me happy, what am I drawn to? And I have a huge sweet tooth. So I started to take cooking classes, and I actually, during treatment, I was very strict. Like, I stayed away from all alcohol and sugar, and I just wanted to eat as pure as possible, but I always had this sweet tooth.
And so right after treatment ended, I wanted to feel normal again and be able to indulge and have fun and eat my favorite foods. But I wanted to eat as less processed as whole, real food based as possible, and honestly, less inflammatory. So I just kind of wanted to stay away from a lot of dairy, anything artificial, any really processed, refined oils. And I want to eat more whole grains and just better quality, you know, flowers. And so when you think of baking, most baking is like bleached white flour, bleached white sugar, you know, heavy cream, you know, tons of butter, you know, corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors. I mean, that's what, like, processed baking looks like. And so, you know, I with. So I got inspired.
You know, during treatment, I definitely started getting this idea of, like, I wish there was a way that I could have my sweets, you know, but feel good about it, but because I was in such, like, health stealth mode, I didn't even. I wasn't even baking a lot. It was really, you know, after treatment, my doctor, after I got, like, my scans cleared and they were like, you know, you're. You're all clear, like, now be a normal person. Go get a real job. That's actually when the real process began, because I was just in like, tunnel survival mode during treatment. And I just felt so different than my peers after getting through that, that I wasn't normal. I couldn't just get a normal job and be normal.
Like, I just saw how important life was, how short life was. And I also had done a lot of soul searching during that time to know myself well enough that, like, food was just so important to my health and well being and that, you know, the only way that I could kind of make that scary thing happen into a positive was to, like, figure out how to turn it into a positive. Like, what did I learn during all this that could somehow help others, help myself actually become, like, my superpower, as opposed to something really negative that happened to me years ago. So that was always in the back of my head, but I didn't, I didn't know what that meant. And I started baking a lot, kind of, as you said, it kind of became my therapy. It was just like this. I'm a creative person. I always like getting my hands dirty.
I've always loved to paint or do art. And so I was like, I kind of like. Baking is like, my new art form. I just love creating, and it makes people so happy, and it's kind of magical. You create something in a bowl, and then, you know, it turns into something else in the oven. And I just love the joy around it, the happiness it really gave not only me, but other people. So I think that when, you know, I think that when I realized that, like, my favorite thing to do every time I came home was to bake, that it wasn't just like, a hobby for me. It was really the thing that brought me so much joy.
And I do think it was therapeutic as I was processing, kind of getting better and healthy, and I tried to get other jobs, and I had other jobs, but I. Nothing stuck, you know? And I think that's when I realized I'm an entrepreneur. If I've got to figure out something I can do for myself, because I'm pretty unemployable, and I, you know, and I'm not going to be happy unless it's something for me and something that makes the world a better place and something I can get really excited about. It's something that makes me feel like I have no regrets in life about, and, you know, I just had this big dream and goal of, like, what life should be about. So. So, you know, it was, it was bubbling like anything in the back of my head. And then after a couple years of recipe testing and getting to a point where I just got a lot of confidence, because, again, my early recipes were not delicious, but after a couple years, they were incredible. And I would bring them, you know, to friends houses when there was a party, and I would just put them out, you know, because when you make something from scratch, you have two dozen cookies sitting around.
So, like, I always was bringing them to whoever would eat them because I didn't want them sitting around my house all day. And when I saw enough honest responses from strangers, these weren't friends trying to make me feel good. When I saw the wow factor enough times, it really gave me this confidence of, this is something special. Everyone loves it, and I'm unemployable. So maybe the two combined actually makes sense. Maybe I should be doing this full time and figure out what that means. And so I decided to jump in. I took a business.
I entered, actually, two baking contests, and I won them both. And I think that super gave me confidence because that was very validating versus just my friends like it or something like that. And then I got a meeting with whole foods. And when the buyer placed an order, you know, for cookie dough as soon as possible, that even though it was only for, like, a couple stores in New York city, it was such a small order, that gave me the confidence that there's a need in supermarkets. And if there's a need in supermarkets and even in whole foods, which they're the mecca of natural food, if they don't even have something that's satisfying this, for sure, there's not something satisfying this in a mass supermarket. And, you know, immediately I just had that big vision of sweet laurens that, like, healthier food should be delicious and it should be accessible. So, like, it should be found in all major supermarkets so that every type of family can afford it, can access it no matter what state they're in.
Lauren, my question was going to be, well, a couple different things. One, I love your point about that feeling of being unemployable. I think that's something a lot of entrepreneurs can relate to. So for anyone listening, if you. You've ever had that feeling like, oh, my God, I'm, like, creative, but I'm unemployable. Like, maybe there, this is your sign to, like, you know, dig in and try and go for it. But, you know, the other thing I was really curious about is when you were, you said you were, like, baking for your friends. People love it.
You won a baking contest. But, like, what does it look like in terms of going from that to, like, actually taking you know, your dough into production. Like, when you were baking originally, were you baking in your kitchen? Like, where were you doing it? And what did it look like to go from, oh, I really like baking to, like, let's actually turn this into a scalable business.
Totally. So I was a one woman show, and I was. I knew I'd made so many batches of cookie dough at that point, you know, after, you know, four or five years of recipe testing that I knew I actually hated. Not hated, but, yeah, hated, like, being in the kitchen that much. Like, I loved creating one or two recipes. But, like, the idea of, like, me making thousands of pounds of this by myself and cleaning up a kitchen and renting a kitchen, and that, to me, I was like, I want to outsource that. Like, I'm not. That is not what's going to make me happy.
What's going to bring me joy is, like, selling this product, sampling this product, coming up, you know, figuring out how to grow the business behind it. And I was a one woman show, so I also was just like, this is just too much. There's too much to do. So, like, I can't make the product and sell it and demo it and all the things. Like, I feel like I have to pick and choose. Also, it's cookie dough. Cookie dough. People eat raw.
Even if you say you shouldn't eat it raw, people eat it raw. So I just wanted to make sure that this was made at the safest, you know, kind of factory, too, because, you know, of selling something that kids were going to eat, you know, adults are going to eat, they're going to eat it raw. They're going to bake it, whatever it is. I just wanted to make sure it was super safe. So I. So, so, okay. So I took a business writing course to figure out, like, stage one was like, okay, I have an idea. Sweet Laurens, better for you.
Baked goods. That's my big idea. What does that look like? Is it a CPG product? Is it a bakery? So first I did this business writing course to, like, just start to put numbers behind it and focus on it. And I quickly realized, like, a bakery was not the way to go for me, like, a bakery would mean, you know, really expensive rent something. Being open seven days a week, I just was imagining myself, like, on Saturdays or Sundays, coming to fix the plumbing and whatever would go wrong. And I was like, I am an entrepreneur to giving myself freedom and making massive impact, creating a packaged product and entering CEG gives me that. Like, this is something that could make money while I sleep. This is something that could be shipped, you know, nationwide, globally, one day, so that it could reach everyone and not just people.
In New York City, for instance, you know, that's where I was going to open up my first bakery. So even though I love the idea of a bakery, I, you know, it, that course really helped me figure out, okay, let's enter CPG. From that course. I got a meeting with Whole Foods, the buyer, and I. And so in my kitchen, I made twelve different types of cookies. Okay, no research behind this, no data. No, it was just kind of my instinct. My favorite flavors rested, my favorite things I made basically, in the last couple of years.
So made these twelve items, brought them, and, you know, we walked around the whole kind of supermarket together, and, you know, we talked about each aisle, you know, because he was like, what can you do? I was like, I'll do anything you want. Like, if you want a baking mix, I'll create it. If you want cookie dough, I can create. If you want packaged cookies, I'll make it. Like, I just wanted an order, you know, a po, so that, like, I could be in business. And I really wanted to hear from him, what is he missing in the market? And so, you know, he was like, well baked cookies, you know, that's not like the most exciting thing. Like, baking mixes move very slowly. Cookie dough.
No one's built the next brand name in Cookie dough. That's all natural. And there's nothing better than a warm cookie out of the oven. And he had little kids, and I think he instinctively was like, I know my kids would have so much fun making this every week. Like, he just could imagine it. And he knew that there was nothing kind of even at Whole Foods that was exciting. So he helped me kind of figure out what that first product should be, and that made sense to me. I kind of always wanted to sell cookie dough.
I just wanted, if he, if he had convinced me another product would have worked, you know, I would have gone that direction potentially. But I love the idea of cookie dough because a warm and fresh cookie is just the best thing in the world. And so, and the fact that you could sell it and people could make a couple at a time each night, you know, just was an amazing selling point. So. So one. So gave him the samples. The next day he called me and he said, how soon can we get this? Like, my whole team loves it. And I started crying.
I was so happy, you know, meanwhile, like, this is when all the hard work begins. But I just was so happy that, like, I could see a road to this business being successful. So I called every factory and Googling cookie dough factory, food factory nearby. Like, I just needed something nearby that could make my product. Found a place about a three hour bus ride from New York City. Took the bus up there, and they'd never made cookie dough, but they had the right mixers to make cookie dough. And I just learned. I learned with them, like, okay, I make, you know, a five pound batch at home.
Now we're going to make a 30 pound batch. You know, let's six times the recipe, but not all the ingredients need to be six times. Like, you start playing around with proportions, and you start to realize how complicated baking is. Like, it seems simple, but it's such chemistry, it's such science, especially, especially as you multiply a recipe. And I kind of, even though it was so complex, I fell in love with how complex it was because it was kind of a hard problem to solve. And so found this factory, hired a guy who worked in the factory to drive it down to whole foods and drop it off. Just all those little hustle things to make it work. And then I was the person demoing, and so I had a toaster oven, you know, in a rolly suitcase and went on the subway and demoed, you know, in whole foods.
And whole foods in New York are the busiest. And that was great because I got to sample hundreds of people and, you know, hear amazing feedback. Like, this is an amazing product. I love this concept. Why isn't anyone ever done this? The taste is amazing, and also feedback, the packaging. I can't read the flavor easily. You should do this flavor or you should do, you know, whatever it was. And it helped me refine the product over time because customers were, gave really good feedback, and I always listened to it.
So, uh, yeah, I mean, I think, yeah, I think customer feedback is so good. And I love at what part in your, like, product iteration cycle you were able to, like, incorporate it, right. Because, like, you had product validation, you had your friends like the product. You've gotten a little bit of scale. So you've got, like, the means to scale with the factory, and then you've got the buyer kind of in the mix who's ready to say, okay, whole foods likes it. And then you have demo where you're able to, like, really kind of gather that feedback before you're going into your next, you know, next phase of scaling, if you will. So what was it like after you've got that, you've got whole foods interested? Demos are going well, you've gathered some feedback, like, what happens next? And how do you go from that? Like, where does the story go from there?
So if you, you know, our first packaging was miserable looking. It was terrible. It was in a tub. It was hard to scoop the whole thing. It was.
It was.
I did it so, so cheaply. You know, like, a friend of a friend designed it for, like, you know, $200. Like, so in that year that I was in the store and I demoed all the time, I really gained a lot of confidence in what the customer wanted and understood what the customers needs were because I had heard the same thing over and over again. And so it was really helpful because the second contest I won was this contest called the next big small brand for culinary genius in New York. And. And what I won was branding and design work. So this company basically gifted me their branding work. And because I had all of this knowledge about what the customer wanted next, I was able to really help art direct the changes needed.
And so it was really amazing to have that, to really be in the customer shoes. And it was very eye opening because it got me to a point where I realized this isn't about me, Lauren, anymore. Like, Lauren can make her own recipes at home in her kitchen, her favorite flavors all day, every day. But now that I'm, like, actually selling to customers, this is about where is there white space in the market? What is the need in for people? And if their flavors or favorite flavors are different than mine, it's about them, not me. So I really, you know, I started to, like, just let go of kind of my ego and, like, my wants. And it was more about how do I make as many people happy as possible? How do I solve this problem of healthier but delicious, you know, baked goods in mass America, you know, not just whole foods. And so switched to a different factory, went from my small, you know, factory to a bigger factory that did cookie dough. And that really helped and started to get on the Today show and get a lot of interest and excitement and then again, sampling it all the time, then got it into one of the best cookie dough factories in North America.
And that took six months of calling nonstop every week until they finally said, oh, she's just not going to give up. Let's, you know, just produce her product. And they won't even let me see the factory. Like, I literally, when I think back to this, I said yes to this factory producing our product without ever going to visit it because they were so top secret about who they produced for. And then once, you know, after a year, after I got a certain volume, you know, we finally were allowed to come visit. But, you know, it's just that confidence and taking those risks and just, like, reaching higher and reaching higher before people take you seriously. And the big aha with sweet Laurens was, I got us into Publix and Kroger supermarkets on my first meetings, and that was pretty big deal. And then, because we were then sold in basically every state, I started to get hundreds of messages that people were saying, I love your concept.
I love your product. But my husband is gluten free. My kid has a nut allergy. My daughter is plant based. You know, my, you know, my. My next door neighbor has a soy allergy. Like, all these different food allergies and requests, and it sounded niche at the time, but it totally made sense to me that I was, like, there. If you are someone who either is just really strict about clean ingredients in your food and just really wants better for you, or you have a food allergy where someone in your family has a dietary restriction or food allergy, maybe they're trying to be vegan or they're more plant based, or.
Or they are gluten free, or they feel better eating gluten free. They have no options. There's literally no options for them. And so they're going to walk right by the cookie dough section and not even shop this section. So I worked on creating a recipe that was free of, like, the top 14 sensitivities and allergens, but still made sure the taste was amazing. Found a very small allergen free factory that could help me run it. They'd never done cookie dough before, but they did a lot of cookies, so they were like, all right, we can figure this out together. And we launched it, and it became our number one skew overnight.
And so that's. That was a big turning point, 2017, when I just. The whole brand became free from. So, you know, the goal of Sweet Lawrence has always been so delicious. Highest quality ingredients, simple, clean, better for you ingredients. But the fact that we're now all those things and, you know, free of dairy, gluten eggs, soy nuts, you know, all sin just opens this up and makes the product very universal. So, like, anyone at the dinner table can eat it. And that is really what helps.
Sweet Laurens actually skyrocket.
We are really excited to announce that DTC pod is officially part of the HubSpot podcast network. The HubSpot podcast network is the audio destination for business professionals, and we're really excited about being part of the network because we're going to be able to keep growing the show, bringing you guys amazing guests, and obviously helping you guys learn from the best founders, marketers and builders of the most successful consumer brands. So anyway, keep listening to DTC pod and more shows like us on the HubSpot podcast network@HubSpot.com. Podcastnetwork. What would you say? So when you were making that decision? Right. Like, obviously that means revisiting the recipe, changing some stuff up. Did, what was the decision there to go? Like, did you replace your entire cookie line? So you're like all of sweet Laurens now is upgrading to this recipe? Was there any kind of pushback from existing customers? Because I'm guessing there was maybe a little bit of a different taste. How did you kind of manage that and plan for the future, knowing that this is the right decision to make in the longer term of the business?
Well, since this being a refrigerator product, we're not D two c. I mean, we are DC, we sell d to c, but that's not the bulk of our business. Our business is sold in supermarkets. We're in over 25,000 supermarkets. You know, our chocolate chunk cookie dough today outsells, you know, Pillsbury and toll house cookie doughs in some major supermarkets. So it's like our product needs to be right next to, you know, any other cookie dough. And it's really, it's an impulse buy. It's also a perishable products.
So it's just what most people still buy in the supermarket versus paying for dry ice and shipping it online. So all that to say that there's not a lot of shelf space, we are competing with the biggest names in the market, and we're in the refrigerated dough section, or the refrigerated section, which is the most coveted part of the grocery store. So we're competing with, you know, the velocities of milk and cottage cheese and butter and eggs and things that just move so much every day. So, so there's just a limit on how much shelf space we're going to get. And I think that combined with it's also very confusing for the brand. It's like, we believe in this, but we also believe in this. And the writing was on the wall. Like the allergen free became our number one skew.
And what I heard from customers was, this is brilliant. It does not taste gluten free. It does not taste vegan. So now I can buy one cookie dough for my cold family because my husband's gluten free and my kid away from dairy. And we can all just eat the same delicious food as opposed to them each eating some weird allergen free bread. And so that's what happened. People just started buying it because it just tasted better and, and, you know, and it could. And it could feed their friends themselves.
It was great to have on hand, you know, whoever came over and, you know, and then, and then because of that, we tweaked the branding and packaging yet again to make it, you know, so the original packaging was in a tub, you know, way back when. And then we very quickly switched to place and b, so that there's twelve portions, these circular rounds in the package, so that when you open it, you can make one or two at a time or you can make all twelve. But there's just no mess or fuss, there's no measuring. It's very clear, you know, what the serving size is and it's so easy. You can make these in a toaster, out in our air fryer type of thing. So I think, you know, when we redesign the packaging yet again, we, you know, again went for brand and delicious and clean, simple ingredients first. But by the way, we have these call outs now on the bottom of the package. So that if you are looking for dairy free, non gmo, gluten free, nut free, whatever it may be, you'll find it.
But a, hopefully someone that doesn't even care about those things is just so attracted to, like the brand popping off the shelf, the magenta color, the delicious picture of the cookie, you know, and then we kind of get up, rewarm.
Yeah, I think that's so important to think about, you know, understanding the market and understanding what the reality of selling through retail looks like and understanding there's limited shelf space. And this is a positioning play that we need to make in order to not just make it work in one market, but to really like, scale this brand. If it's going to scale nationally and be in all those different states and, and hold that shelf space against all the competitors. You didn't want to be halfway in, halfway out. You're like, nope, this is where we're putting our flag in the sand and this is where we're going to be. I'm curious what the early days, because it sounds like you guys were able to unlock pretty massive national distribution. What did the financing of the business look like? How did you know in the early days? How did you go from, how'd you spin up the inventory and how did you kind of like meet that scale. That was happening pretty quickly.
Did you have to raise money? Were you able to, you know, bootstrap and self fund? Like, how did you approach the scaling realities of production?
So I have always been as scrappy as possible, so I kept the team as lean and mean as possible. In the early days, it was really just me and an intern. I just kept it so small and then it, you know, right as I was applying to Publix, it was like, it was. There's two other people, so there's three of us. Um, I raised from friends and family in, in the very early days because to your point, like, we weren't as profitable as I wanted to be, our margin wasn't as high by then. Um, we had to, you know, buy packaging upfront and inventory. And I was just learning how the whole food industry works. And it's so much more expensive, expensive than I think anyone understands until they get in it.
And that's why it's one of the first industries to break into. But I was determined to figure it out. And also the brilliance of going, everything going kind of allergen free was that those ingredients are just more expensive than conventional. And so we were able to raise a price point and really have a healthy margin. And that is ever since then we became a really highly profitable, healthy, sustainable business. So I never had to raise real money after that. And so we really bootstrapped the business ever since and really just focused on RoI and profitability and a small but lean and mean team. And we're still that way today.
Yeah, and I think that's so important because, like, you hear the different sort of stories. You hear brands that are like blitz scaling, going direct, and then, you know, crashing and burning, and then the brands that are like, you know, kind of taking the longer approach. That's why I was so excited to talk to you. This isn't like you said, you've been doing this for over ten years and it's, you know, it's not just something that you spun up one night, it's like you were kind of in it for the long haul. The other thing I love is like kind of going back to the story and, and this is something that I deeply believe in. It's like figuring out what you want to put your time on and what you want to, like, really build your business in is it like, matters so much. And the way I evaluate, like, sort of business opportunities, it's like there's a lot of things that anyone can build and sometimes people go out and are like, oh, what's a problem I could solve? What's a problem I could solve? And they approach it that way rather than thinking about making sure there's also alignment with, like, you as a person and something that, like, you really care about that you'd be willing to work on, not just for a year or two, but imagine yourself in ten years, in 20 years. Are these the people I want to work with? Is this the type of business I want to build? Is this the type of product space that I want to be in? Does everything that I touch align with what excites me on a day to day? I think that's what resonates with me about your story, is that there's clearly a lot of alignment across the board, and I think that leads to much more successful outcomes.
Kind of piggybacking off that. Where. Where are we now? Right. Like, we. We've built the business. We've got a whole bunch of product lines. And now I was really excited to chat with you because I know you're launching so many new sort of products. So why don't you walk me through what kind of finding.
It sounds like you guys have found your identity, so to speak, like, as you've scaled across retail. But, like, where do we go? Like, where do we go over the last, like, couple years and what comes next?
Yes. Yeah. So, really, I was heads down building cookie dough for the last nine years and really building out cookie dough. So, obviously, you know, there's only so much shelf space, but, like, what are the five top skus, you know, that are gonna, you know, just turn and that people love? And so, you know, really nailing those, you know, chocolate chop is always number one, but then you also have, like, fudgy brownie. We have a salted caramel. We have, you know, a sugar cookie. We. Oval cranberry.
Those are amazing. Then about two years ago, we actually launched a less sugar cookie dough line because there were people that loved our product, but they were really watching their sugar grams. And so we created a cookie that only has 6 grams of sugar, and it's not using sugar replacements. It's just, you know, non gmo, plant based cane sugar. And so that's really revolutionary for the care that this category. No one's doing that. You know, there's keto. There's a lot of, like, sugar replacement stuff, but there's no one just doing just a delicious cookie with just less of the sugar.
And so it really tastes delicious and normal. And so that was amazing because that, that's actually become our number two skew. So, like, that's been amazing for the business and to help more people who want to eat less sweet. And, and then we launched our amazing seasonal program. So, like, we have a pumpkin spice that is so delicious. We have a gingerbread. We have a chocolate mint. We just launched a lemon cookie dough.
I think it's in all sprouts and whole foods right now. And it's, people are saying it's our best flavor yet, so. And it's made with this, like, cold pressed lemon oil. Unbelievable. And part of the proceeds of every package sold actually goes to a pediatric cancer research foundation. So it's a really cool Alex's lemonade stand. It's a really cool partnership with that product as well. So just really building out cookie dough.
And then last year, we launched our first shelf stable item. Really moving into kind of the snacking and breakfast category, we created a breakfast biscuit. So it's a, you know, a carton. You know, you buy the box and it has five leaves in it, and there's like, three crispy biscuits in each little, you know, bag. And they're so delicious. It's 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, you know, amazing. Just source of kind of energy boosting so that, you know, if you are on the go and you just want a quick breakfast, like, this is great. If you want to snack in your bag, this is great.
So great for dunking your coffee or tea. So anyway, very cool to now be in the cookie aisle with this breakfast biscuit. You can buy it online on Amazon or in Whole Foods cookie aisle, but many other retailers as well. And then what's most exciting is next month, we launch into other types of refrigerated dough. So for the first time ever, next to our cookie dough, there will be refrigerated pizza dough and refrigerated puff pastry. Um, and even in summertime, they'll be, you know, pie crust. And so those are really exciting because they're rolled in parchment paper. They're ready to go.
They're all so delicious. Simple ingredients, but as well, gluten free, dairy free, nut free, whole gamut as well. So you can just unroll them and, like, the pizza, you know, bakes within ten minutes and creates this really delicious, crispy and crust pizza and the puff pastry, or over 40 layers of, like, flaky, you know, flaky layers of dough that make savory or sweet recipes. And so just really, really proud of how, as a brand, you know, people have asked us for these kind of products. As you can imagine, for years, the second we got into cookie dough, it was like, what else can you create? So these have taken several years to create. Very, very hard to beat gluten free and vegan and have it taste delicious and to find the right factoring machinery that can create all these things. But I'm so, so proud that we are actually unveiling these, um, this year. So be at stores like Target and Kroger.
That's so exciting. And I think, you know, one challenge as someone who's running a business is, like, you know, when do I do, like, when do I launch that new product or new product line? Right? Because, like, you were saying you've been having this requested, you know, for years and years and years. So, like, how did you know now was the right time? And how did you know which, like, I guess you could call them adjacent products that you were gonna love? Like, I'm super excited about the pizza dough. Like, I just got a pizza oven, so I'm like, okay, I could. I could definitely mess with that. But, like, how did you. How did you, I guess, know which products to do and when to do it?
I know I sell the pizza oven because this pizza actually totally bakes in, like, a normal oven or toaster oven even. But the pizza oven takes it to the next level because then you get a little of, like, the charring and, you know, just that hot oven. So, um, yes, it's a really good question. I think that until we became the number one in our category, like, we want to be the number one natural cookie dough brand. We wanted to make sure that we were moving enough volume, that we were really taken seriously in all these major retailers, and that we, you know, that our team honestly had the bandwidth and budget to build a focus on something else, because the second you move into a different category now, you need. It's a different buyer. It's a second time of year. You're gonna have to go meet with a retailer.
It's potentially a whole new customer, and it's a whole new factory, potentially potential problems with production. It just completely adds complexity. I think it was a combination of, let's really feel like Cookie dough is so solid and that Sweet Laurens is so far ahead as the number one natural cookie dough brand that we, because we can still double cookie dough business, triple cookie dough business. Like, we still have so much upside. Our brand awareness is so low. Like, we have barely spent money on advertising. Our whole growth has been word of mouth and our amazing fan base. So there we don't even need new products, to be honest.
It's like we could just focus on cookie dough. But there also gets to be a point where you have this fan base and they want more things, and you're now at a point where you have a plan to keep growing cookie dough and not take your eye off the ball. But you now have the team and resources budget to be able to handle other things. And I don't want to just be a cookie dough brand. Like sweet wines was always a better for you kind of food baking snacks brand. That was always my goal is that we could launch anything. We could solve a lot of problems. So I also don't want to pigeonhole ourselves.
So I think demand from people, demand from customers is what I always listen to first. And then we do a ton of research to figure out what are the top five to ten products that wheres their white space in the market? What are the biggest market opportunities and what do our customers want as well. And if we can find those, those will be the biggest. And what can we make, right? Like, what factory can we actually produce this? So I think, like, we have a list of things were not even launching the number one, number two, number three, you know, items that we want to be because we're still figuring out, you know, you know, production and things like that. So these products are just not easy. And so, but again, I think we've grown a culture of, like, we love the challenge, so we're still going after them. You know, you could imagine from day one, people are like, I love your concept, but I'm not always in my kitchen by my fridge and my oven. You know, like, can I have a snack that has all your callouts and your level of taste? But I can throw it in my bag.
I can throw it in my kids bag. You know, it's safe for school, safe for lunch boxes, whatever it is. And so, you know, we were looking at the whole cookie aisle and snack aisle, and it's like, where's their white space? What makes most sense for our brand? What would our customers love? And the breakfast biscuit was brilliant, I thought, because it's still sweets, it's still sweet enough, but there's actually nutrition in this. There's naturally 4 grams of protein that, like, it really is a great snack. Pick me up. You know, there's a lot of bars out there that only have like 2 grams of protein. You know, they're not really going to give you energy. And this has, like, a good source of B vitamins as well, so, like, it really gives you, like, a boost of energy, any protein, any of fiber, and you have 19 whole grains.
So it's like, you know, I feel really good about eating that. And so I think, like, that was something that wasn't obvious to us, but through research, we figured out that this was a great white space where there's already a category built, but, like, there's no better for you. Non GMo, gluten free alternative. So, you know, breakfast biscuits and then, you know, refrigerated doughs, obviously from day one were, you know, even the buyers of a lot of these supermarkets, you know, they're buying these products as well. And, you know, they would say to us, like, you have a raving fan base. You know, can you create more products? Because, like, they would buy all of them. There's a need. And so, you know, working on these products for years.
Years. So, you know, I would have launched these a couple of years ago if it was ready, but we, we kind of only launch when we're. When something feels perfect.
Yeah, no, I think that's really important because sometimes you have so many, like, especially when you have a business that has, like, product market fit and starts to work, you start to have so many opportunities that you actually have to say no rather than say yes to everything because, you know, you can drown in all the yeses. So I think that's, that's really great advice. And the last question I have for you is around, you know, now, you've been doing this for a while. You've seen, you know, you've, I'm sure, overcome a whole bunch of, like, challenges and, like, learned a lot along the way, what would you say? What are some of the biggest, like, either mistakes you've made or, like, learnings from those mistakes, like, if you could go back and, like, you were starting the business all over again, what was, like, something along the way that you, like, you've learned now, but you were like, you know what? I really should have done it that way.
I know it's so hard to go back because it's like, these are the things that got me here. But I would have surrounded myself with, I didn't know anyone in the food industry when I started, and so I would have surrounded myself with some CDG experts. I think I would have. I hired a president this last year and a half, but a year and a half ago and, you know, like a top t suite team and, you know, I think if we had those, that level of talent on board a couple years ago, we could have grown even faster and it would have been more fun for me because I would have had a lot more support. So I think looking back, team is everything and experience is everything. So really trying to make sure that it's people you can trust, people that are passionate and people that have experience and expertise in your industry that are going to move fast and are entrepreneurial and like this kind of startup environment where you got to think fast and you got to be ready for anything, I would say, yeah. And, and maybe working on, you know, in the early days, they didn't have access to data. Like, we didn't buy data.
We didn't. I couldn't see how big all different markets were. I couldn't. So it's hard when you don't have a lot of money and you're like bootstrapping to be able to do all these things. But you know, if that's the road you're going to go, then, like head down on a business plan until you get to that level where you have enough, you know, you've made enough of your own money through profit that you can buy data and have access to data. So I would say, you know, the second you can buy data so you can equip yourself.
I love that. Um, Lauren, wanna thank you so much for coming on. We learned a ton. You guys are absolutely crushing it. Why don't you shout out your socials? Like, where can we connect with you? Where can we, you know, find you on socials? And where can we learn more about the brand?
So follow us at Sweet Lorens to hear all about the brand. Sign up for a newsletter on our website, sweetlaurens.com and then you can follow me personally on Instagram. Lauren B. Castle Lorenbcastle and yeah, email us anytime or message me if you have any questions. We truly love interacting with real consumers and people in the industry because we want to make a difference. Sweet.
Thanks so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me.
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