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193 – Not Everyone Deserves Your Homemade Efforts! with Michelle Gowan of Cookie Nip
Episode 19317th December 2018 • Gift Biz Unwrapped • Sue Monhait
00:00:00 00:50:04

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Dr. Michelle Gowan is a retired educator who is using all her time not teaching school to teach people to bake and decorate cookies. In her first month of retirement, she founded The Cookie School which is a mobile, home party/class where a group of girlfriends gather in a kitchen for six hours and learn to bake and decorate cookies. After they “graduate,” they have homework to complete (3 recipes of cookies) and then they qualify for an advanced class (graduate school). Cookie Nip flavoring was born out of a desire to create a rich signature flavor profile for use in The Cookie School recipes but it has been embraced by bakers of cookies, cakes and treats as well as a delicious flavor additive to coffee and a replacement for vanilla in any sweet or savory recipe. Michelle now has trained 70 Cookie School instructors who help with the demand of teaching classes. Dr. Gowan continues to work at a charter school in teacher support as well as an adjunct professor of Education at Mercer University.

Business Building Insights

  • Everything that I give as a gift has a part of me in it. Recognize the value of putting part of yourself into the creation of your products.
  • Listen to the feedback that you get and modify accordingly.
  • When you’re making something that doesn’t already exist, you don’t have anything to compare yourself to. The road is clear for your creativity.
  • You can’t do it all. Seek help from advisors and listen to them.
  • When at trade shows, the connections made with other vendors are worth just as much, sometimes more, than the sales made.
  • Give yourself permission to stand back and let opportunities find you.
  • With anything worth doing, there is risk.

Contact Links

Website – Cookie Nip Website – The Cookie School Facebook – Cookie Nip, LLC Facebook – The Cookie School Instagram – Cookie Nip, LLC Instagram – The Cookie School 

Gift Biz Resources

Join our FREE Gift Biz Breeze Facebook Community

If you found value in this podcast, make sure to subscribe and leave a review in Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. That helps us spread the word to more makers just like you.
Thanks! Sue

Transcripts

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Gift biz unwrapped episode 193 other people don't devalue what we

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have done.

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We did that to ourselves and we should stop At Tintin.

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Gifters, bakers,

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crafters, and makers.

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Pursuing your dream can be fun whether you have an established

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business or looking to start one now you are in the

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right place.

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This is give to biz unwrapped,

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helping you turn your skill into a flourishing business.

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Join us for an episode packed full of invaluable guidance,

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resources, and the support you need to grow your gift biz.

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Here is your host gift biz gal,

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Sue moon Heights.

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Hi there,

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it's Sue.

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Thank you so much for joining me here today.

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Before we get into the show,

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I want to make sure you're familiar with my free Facebook

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group called gift biz breeze.

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It's a place where we all gather and our community to

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support each other.

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I've got a really fun post in there.

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That's my favorite of the week.

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I have to say where I invite all of you to

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share what you're doing,

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to show pictures of your product,

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to show what you're working on for the week,

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to get reaction from other people and just for fun because

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we all get to see the wonderful products that everybody in

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the community is making.

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My favorite post every single week without doubt.

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Wait, what aren't you part of the group already?

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If not,

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make sure to jump over to Facebook and search for the

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group gift biz breeze.

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Don't delay.

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Come join us in gift biz breeze today.

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Our guest today is dr Michelle Gowan,

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retired educator Susie in all of her time not teaching school

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to teach people to bake and decorate cookies.

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In her first month of retirement,

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she founded the cookie school,

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which is a mobile home party class where a group of

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girlfriends gather in a kitchen for six hours and learn to

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bake and decorate cookies.

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Oh my gosh,

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she dies.

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Doesn't that sound like so much fun?

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Another current business of hers cookie nip flavoring was born out

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of a desire to create a rich signature flavor profile for

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use. In the cookie school recipes,

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but it has been embraced by bakers of cookies,

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cakes and treats,

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as well as a delicious flavor additive to coffee and replacement

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for vanilla in a sweet and savory recipe.

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Michelle has now trained 70 cookie school instructors who help with

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the demand of teaching classes.

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Dr Gowan continues to work at a chartered school in teacher

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support as well as an adjunct professor of education at Mercer

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university. Dr Michelle Gowan,

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welcome to the gift biz unwrapped podcast.

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Thank you.

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So you and I met at the ultimate sugar show and

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I walked by your,

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and someone else who was working at the booth lured me

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in and said,

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you have to try the cookies.

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I think it was like little cakes actually.

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Penny fours.

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Yeah, the little pedal forests.

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And I was trying so hard with all my might not

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to taste things because then I'm going to have to have

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more and more and more and more.

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Right. But she couldn't help it,

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Which you couldn't help.

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And so I was trying not to,

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but I'm like,

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okay, I just have to and Oh my gosh,

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it's so yummy.

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That cookie nip flavoring is to die for.

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Thank you.

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I like it too.

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I bet you I'm really excited to get into the whole

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story. But before we do,

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I like to start off by having our listeners get to

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know you in a different way.

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And that is through you describing yourself as a motivational candle.

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So if you were to share with us what color and

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what quote would be on a candle that's all about you,

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what would your candle look like?

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I believe my candle would have the quote,

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if you do what you love,

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you will never work a day in your life.

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I'm all about pursuing happiness and anything that I want to

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do and especially my time for doing it is getting narrower

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and narrower.

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So whatever I do,

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I want to be happy doing it.

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And so when I need something that just like this flavor,

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it was born out of necessity to have a signature flavor.

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And so what motivates me to do something is first,

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well, if somebody has done this before,

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I mean obviously people can do it so it's not not

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doable. And finally I just want to do things that cause

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happiness, that bring happiness to me and to other people.

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And one thing that bakers have in common is they're happy

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doing it.

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They want to share happiness with somebody else,

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usually by way of butter and sugar and cooking it.

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There you go.

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There is nothing wrong with butter and sugar.

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That is for sure.

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And you're sitting with absolutely the right audience too because anyone

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who's a maker is wanting to spread happiness.

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They're wanting to share their art,

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whether it's jewelry making or candles or the sweets,

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which I am so loving.

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That's what we all are wanting to do is share happiness.

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And I love the fact that now we can all stand

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up and I'm going to say women,

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because the majority of our audience are women and claim ownership

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to not asking permission to get out and to create our

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own businesses,

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but to just decide we're doing it for ourself.

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Right. I think that too many times we are handicapped that

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other people's perception of what we should be doing,

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because I really had intended to sit around in my retirement

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and roll out cookies in my kitchen and bake for other

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people, but wanting to share what I know about baking cookies

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with somebody else because that's how a teacher does.

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They're afraid when they get near retirement,

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they're never going to get to tell anybody anything ever again.

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So then they start thinking,

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what can I teach people to do that I would just

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love to do all day and I don't have to.

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So that adds a new perspective to it.

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It sure does.

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And I like that you talk about it this way because

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you're taking something that you've done for your whole life and

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then transferring it over to something new that you're creating for

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yourself. In terms of the cookie school,

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There's something that resonates with me as a crafter or maker

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or Baker of sorts,

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and that is not everybody deserves your home made efforts.

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I mean,

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have you ever known somebody that just put a lot of

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work? Then they crafted with their hands and then they give

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it to somebody and they look at it like,

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that's not me or my style.

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That is not for me.

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Everything that I give as a gift has to have part

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of me in it.

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I want to give something that is part of me.

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If you want an Outback gift card,

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you can get that for yourself.

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But if you want these cookies or you want something that

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I make or something that I create,

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you can't get that for yourself.

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So it seems to kind of up the gifting ability.

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Boy, I wish every single person could get in this mindset,

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right? That you are receiving such a special gift of what

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someone else has made and you're not just entitled to it,

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but you deserve it.

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And so you should value it even more than obviously going

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to the store in case of cookies and getting a bag

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of cookies,

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Right? I mean,

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that's no gift.

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I mean that's,

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you could go and get your own cookies if you're going

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to the grocery store to get them.

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But when somebody gives you a gift that they rendered,

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then there's part of them in that gift.

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And consequently,

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when I get a handmade card from somebody,

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I know how special that is because that started with a

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piece of paper.

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Whereas some people just look at it as if it were

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one that was picked up at the grocery store and I

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don't. So I have the capacity to look at something that

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someone created with their hands and appreciated on a deeper level.

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So why is it the,

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do you think that people undervalue their making?

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They feel like what they're creating is less than a brand

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name product?

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I think one of the reasons I started getting cookies and

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things like that as gifts when I couldn't really afford to

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buy something more substantial.

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And so I think we do that to ourselves because I'm

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at a point where I could buy something more substantial,

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but I recognize the value of putting myself in part of

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the gift.

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So I think that we do that to ourselves.

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Other people don't devalue what we have.

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We did That to ourselves and we should stop.

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We need to stop.

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And I want to be on a mission to stop.

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And I think we're starting just by having this conversation here.

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Right. So let's talk a little bit about the cookie school.

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So it sounds like you retired as an educator and then

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did you already have the idea of the cookie school cause

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you started so quickly thereafter?

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I did not actually.

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Teachers are planners by nature and so retirement is coming up

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and then you start thinking,

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okay so I'm retiring from hall duty and lunch duty and

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carpool duty and faculty meetings,

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but I still want to do what I love,

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which is teach somebody something and help connect those dots for

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people or help light a fire in somebody,

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introduce them to something that they're going to be passionate about.

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So that part is what teachers would do for free.

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So I just thought if I could teach anybody anything,

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what would I like to teach them?

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And I thought,

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well I can bake cookies.

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So what I really think I'm going to do,

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this is a great plan.

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I'm going to train all my girlfriends and then when I

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have a million cookies to do,

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they're going to come help me.

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Right? How'd that work out?

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Not well,

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but because as soon as they learned how to do it,

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they're like,

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do your own cookies.

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I've got my own today.

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So that wasn't very successful,

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but nobody thinks,

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well, the very first thought of the cookie school was to

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just get some help for me because I was trying to

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produce more cookies than my two hands could produce.

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And so the best way to make a greater impact is

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to teach other people to do it for themselves.

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That's what I thought that I would enjoy doing,

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and I did enjoy doing it.

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Nothing is more fun than getting in the kitchen with some

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girlfriends and showing them what you do that's therapeutic and you

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just enjoy doing it.

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And then after you're done,

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you have a beautiful product that people really like and they

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want. I just can't tell you the number of people that

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I had no idea there were that many people in the

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world who wanted to learn how to bake cookies.

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Who knew that?

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I didn't know.

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I was thinking maybe 12 to 15 but it's a lot

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more than that.

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The other thing about cookies is they usually lead to some

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type of a celebration,

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whether it's people getting together,

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you going to someone's house for dinner and having cookies for

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dessert or even just after dinner,

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having a little dessert of a cookie.

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So cookies to me equals happiness.

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It does.

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And who can be miserable while eating a cookie?

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Nobody. Never.

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I'm not even miserable after 10 I'm only miserable.

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Well later when I realized,

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fuck I did.

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So how long was the cookie school going until you got

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the idea of cookie nip?

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Probably for about six months or so.

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Necessity is the mother of invention and when you need something,

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you invent something.

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And I don't know anything about inventing a flavor at all.

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I had to hire people to tell me,

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well, where do you go?

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This is an idea that I have,

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but how do you get this flavor into a product that

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can be measured by teaspoons and added to recipes.

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Okay, but before that,

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what was your thinking about?

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I mean,

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I would never even think of making my own flavor.

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Where did that come from?

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Well, the flavor that I had been using for years and

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I really enjoyed was one that was increasingly harder to get.

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And so,

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you know,

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I tried everything and I thought I'm hurting my own self

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by telling people where I get all of my products and

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what I use and how to order them.

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Because guess what happens?

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Everybody's ordering it and now everybody's always out.

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That means that I don't have any,

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I wish I could just make this stuff so that I

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would always have as much as I needed and I had

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an advisor that said,

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well, you need not try to make the same formula that

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formula exists.

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If you cannot improve on the formula,

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then you're kind of throwing good money after bad.

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You just need to go ahead and start blending and mixing

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your flavors together until you get what you're looking for.

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So I got online and I ordered every kind of flavor

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that I liked together and I'm standing in my kitchen putting

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a drop of this and two drops of that and then

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I would bake with it.

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Then I would take these little bags of cookies with me

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to school or to anywhere I was going and ask people

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if they would be so generous as to eat two cookies

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for me and tell me which one they liked better.

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And people are so generous when you ask for that.

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I can't understand why.

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I know they were happy to eat two cookies for me

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and tell me.

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And so at first as I was starting with my formulation,

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I had my favorite flavor and then I had whatever formula

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I was working with.

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But sometimes I would get totally different numbers,

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heavy on the original flavor or light on the newer flavor.

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But I kept augmenting the flavor until I got one that

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was consistently more preferred.

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And so I thought that's the only way.

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I know whether or not I can create something that I

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think is better than something that already exists.

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You'll notice with flavors when you go in the grocery store,

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you can buy almond flavor and orange flavor and peppermint flavor,

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but the thing that makes cooking up a little different is

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that it's a blend of flavors.

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So you have got a butterfly saver,

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a salted caramel flavor,

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and a vanilla bean flavor all brewed into sort of like

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a flavor cocktail.

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As I was researching what the most popular flavor in a

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coffee shop,

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there was a lot of discussion of salted caramel,

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how much people like salted caramel,

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so I thought I'll order some of that and put that

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in my ratio and see if I like it,

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and I did like it.

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That's basically how I came about trying to figure.

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Now cooking up was probably about maybe the 11th formula that

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I made and the others were good or they would be

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stronger in one of the flavors than in the other.

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And as people would eat those cookies,

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they would say,

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well I taste a heavier vanilla or I taste a heavier

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butter or something and you know,

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I would go back to my little cups and try to

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work it up again.

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And so eventually I got to a formula that people just

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consistently liked.

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And I recognize not everybody is going to like it.

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I mean you have to like all three of those flavors.

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But gosh,

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the things that people have put it in like coffee or

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like barbecue sauce things I would not have thought.

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I was thinking very sweet,

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very bakery oriented.

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But people have put it in a lot of things with

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really great reviews And I can attest to that.

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It is delicious.

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And the thing that's so cool about it is even though

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all the flavors that you just mentioned are standard flavors that

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all of us know,

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however your combination is or the portions of each one,

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it really makes you step back when you taste it.

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It is very unique and di licious forgery.

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Well, you know,

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it's interesting when you listen a set up of,

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for lack of a better explanation,

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the science fair at the cookie school,

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I was determined to get my control flavor and then modify

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it in different ways and then test it out on just

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people who are willing to eat two cookies for me.

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But I listened to them review it.

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Some people would say,

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Oh, that's too much caramel,

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or gosh,

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that's kind of too heavy in the vanilla.

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You have to be able to listen to the feedback that

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you get and modify it so that you come up with

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it a different blend.

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And then another thing that you have to do,

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flavors come when you're ordering flavors like I was working with,

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they really come as a very,

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very concentrated oily like half ounce or something ridiculous.

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So if you were trying to use one of those flavors

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in your recipe,

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you wouldn't use a teaspoon.

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You would use an eyedropper milliliters or something like that.

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Well, bankers don't use milliliters.

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If you're going to bring three flavors together and hope they

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work well together,

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then you're going to have to have a carrier that makes

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those flavors blend together and then gives you your consistency equal

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to teaspoons rather than milliliters.

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So there's a little Bit of math in there,

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but there's chemistry and stuff who can work that part out.

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So when you were in your educating years and it wasn't

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the baking,

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were you a scientist or a mathematician?

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I was not.

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Although I do love science,

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I was an elementary teacher of gifted learners.

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The gifted kids are so amazing because they're so curious about

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everything. They could come in one day wondering about something and

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we would just chase the answer all day long.

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So we would learn access information and use resources that were

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available to take us where we wanted to go because it

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was a little bit higher than what they were working on

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in a gen ed classroom.

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So that gave me the basis for thinking I can do

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that or not necessarily thinking that,

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but just thinking,

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well, why not?

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Right. I had mixed something and it had ultimately come up

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with something yucky and nobody liked it.

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I would have never told anybody.

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I did it out of being real quiet about it and

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I would still be standing there.

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Well, we all have that in us,

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right? We all love that little.

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We're not going to tell anybody until it's a little bit

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better. I'm thinking,

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but I think the reason I had asked you that question

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is I think what you've been talking about here takes a

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lot of listening as you are where you're talking about and

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observing over time because if someone came back and said something

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like, you can't change your recipe for every single person's feedback,

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you have to see some commonality to then determine,

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okay, well this is an adjustment that I should be making,

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but I want to just stop here for one second and

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talk with all of our listeners about a couple of things

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that I think are important and apply to any product that

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you may be considering.

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I want you to go back and think about what Michelle

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was talking about in that she found a need.

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She found that there was something in the market that it

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actually ended up being a little bit of a pain point

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for you,

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I'd say cause you couldn't get your hands on some of

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the ingredients that you wanted.

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Right. But you also saw that there was an opportunity slash

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need for something different.

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Something that could be unique so that your cookies could stand

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out from someone else.

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So the first thing was identifying that there's an opening in

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the market if you will.

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Then taste testing as you were sampling and creating,

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you were getting feedback from customers,

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which is so important.

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Right. And I just have this image of you in your

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kitchen cause you had to be documenting every single thing you

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were doing.

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Right? So,

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and did this ever happen to you where you made one

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mixture and it was delicious and then it's like,

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Oh no,

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what was in there?

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Yeah, usually it wasn't that,

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I couldn't remember which of the flavors that I had blended.

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But I started like I would say what's that three drops

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or two right.

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Or was that one drop or two I couldn't re,

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you know.

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And I would have,

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that would be frustrating.

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But you know when you're creating something that doesn't exist,

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you don't have anything to compare yourself to.

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And you know,

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I look for the market to increase in other flavors that

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are compatible with each other.

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Like just the way we like to go to a coffee

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shop and ask for a mocha caramel macchiato cream or something.

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We tend to what things that are a blended cocktail of

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flavors. And if we had that blended cocktail of flavors in

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our flavoring for our cookies and cakes,

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it would just streamline the process.

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Yup. Got it completely.

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A hundred percent so the other thing that I want to

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make mention of is I want everybody to notice that Michelle

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didn't ask permission to do this cause that's what we were

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talking about before.

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So I wanted to slip that in,

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but I'm thinking and you tell me,

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cause I don't normally buy all of the ingredients that you

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do. So I don't know about the pricing,

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but it wasn't a huge investment for you to start practicing

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and trying to figure out what cookie nip flavor flavoring,

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what that actual recipe would be.

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No, it was not a lot.

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And one thing that when I started,

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even with the cookie school is I determined that I can

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have this quote little business if this is what I want

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to do,

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but I am not interested in diving headfirst into some debt.

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I'm too old for that.

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I've got a long career behind me.

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I have still got a skill set that is marketable.

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This is what I wanted to do for fun.

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And it sort of turned into something around me.

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I did not set out to think I'm going to have

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to recruit other people to help me teach this because there's

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such a high demand for it.

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So when I started with the flavor,

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I just thought I can order a bottle of this flavor

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and a bottle of that one and get my,

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drop her out and put them together and then mix them

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up and put them in some cookie dough and see where

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it lands me.

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That's basically all I had to do,

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but I had some good people advising me.

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One thing that I know as a lifelong learner is you

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don't know everything and I'm not a business person.

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And the truth is I really only wanted the cookie nip

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just so that the cookie school students could have a unique

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flavor. But as soon as I got the flavor done and

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I sat there and I looked at it and I got

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the FDA approval and all the Georgia department of ag and

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all of those approvals,

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I could sit there and look at that little bottle and

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think, okay,

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so now all of my cookie school students will be able

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to get all they want whenever we want and we won't

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have this constantly calling all around the country trying to find

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who's got a bottle of flavoring on their shelf.

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But then I thought,

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you know what?

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There's more people that could use this flavor than just the

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cookie school.

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This is such a good story developing.

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We're going to hear what happens next.

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Right after a word from our sponsor,

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So as the cookie nip came to be,

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I do have another teacher who is a business partner in

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the cookie nip production.

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He's a higher level math teacher,

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which is really good since I'm not.

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And so we currently manufacture it hoping that eventually we will

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get enough orders to where we will need a co-packer and

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then somebody else will do that.

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We've gone through all the protocol,

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we have done everything step by step.

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We've had every inspection and every approval that we've needed.

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We didn't have a date by which we had to have

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it completed because you know,

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we're trying to draw an income from it.

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But one thing that we did that proved very beneficial,

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another business person that has advised us along the way is

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you need to do trade shows.

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And so the first trade show that we opted to do

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was cookie con,

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which was in Indianapolis.

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And when you get around 600 or 800 other people who

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make cookies,

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they know a flavor.

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And so it was so well received there that chef Nicholas

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lodge asked us to come to Atlanta,

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which was much more convenient for us.

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So when we went to that,

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now we've introduced it to the cake world.

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So we've got as many cake people that are buying and

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cooking it as cookie people.

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And that's probably an industry that you never really thought it

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would be with for bakers cause you were only using it

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for cookies.

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That's in the name.

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I know how to make cookies and I know how to

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make cakes,

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but I do more cookies and cakes.

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So I thought,

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well I certainly can use it for cakes because I like

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it. And naturally I will use it if I don't make

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very many cakes because cakes absorb a lot more time in

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one sitting.

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And you know,

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I, I work on this when coming home after school or

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after work.

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So when I introduced it to the cake world,

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my perception was that the cake people were going to be,

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Oh I can't change anything about my recipe or I just

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will not have the same product.

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And I have been very pleasantly surprised how the cake bakers

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are always trying to up their game.

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They're always trying to do something a little different to get

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an edge.

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Because I want my cake not to be the same as

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your cake.

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And if we're using the same recipe,

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then we are just saturating the market.

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Whereas if I could get something a little different,

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so I was very pleasantly how the cake bakers embraced it

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and absolutely have been ordering it And they are such a

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fun group too,

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aren't they?

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They are.

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They're a different group though.

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I mean some people,

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most people that are bakers do both,

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but you typically have one thing that you just enjoy more

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than the others and for me it's cookies,

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but gosh,

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they're all a lot of fun to be around.

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I totally agree with you and I have to just tell

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you, I was teaching a class there.

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I think you were teaching too,

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right? I didn't do one at the sugar shack because I

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didn't have,

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I'm not sure they had cookie things,

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but I kind of got there at the last minute so

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I'm going to try to do that next year.

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I was going to say,

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and you're going to like this,

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my class was called don't be vanilla.

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How to stand out in your market.

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There you go.

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Don't be the Nella.

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So your product,

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had I known you before,

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I would have used you as an example for sure.

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Even Nyla and butter and salt and Carol.

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Exactly. But I have to say,

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and we're getting a little off topic,

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but I just have to say this anyway,

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it almost tasted to me like it was a little bit

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rum too.

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Just that combination.

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I love to watch people take their first bite of it

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and then tell me what it reminds them of.

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I've heard butter,

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rum, lifesavers.

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I've heard Werther's originals.

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I have heard Harry Potter butter beer.

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Some of them say caramel macchiato or something like that.

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And I think that our taste buds are very nostalgic.

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We like to eat something that tastes like a butter,

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rum, lifesaver.

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And it takes you back to being seven years old and

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getting that whole book of lifesavers as a kid for Christmas

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or something.

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There's a lot of power.

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Well no matter what,

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it stopped me in my tracks cause like I said,

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I didn't want to taste it.

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And then I did and I'm like,

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wait a minute,

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what is this?

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Yeah, absolutely.

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Okay. So before we go any further with this,

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now you have a secret recipe for cooking net.

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So what have you done to ensure security of that recipe?

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Well, I've learned a lot about copywriting and trademarking.

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I have advisers who have worked on copywriting and trademarking some

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things for me and I have also learned that as recipes

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go, I could change up something a little bit here and

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a little bit there.

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You still have the same animal and so forth.

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And because so many recipes are out there in the open

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domain, you're up against something that is out there for free

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for people to use.

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So as for the cookie school Petit four and the cookie

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recipe, those have been copyrighted.

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So people that come to cookie school and they learn to

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make them,

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they can make as many as they want.

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They can open a bakery if they want to.

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I have three former cookie school students,

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graduates who have opened some type of bakery baking products that

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they learned to do from me.

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And that's really exciting to me to see somebody else get

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their own flow going with that kind of thing.

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And every week as I write a blog,

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well, theoretically,

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every week I try to send a recipe out every week

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I give recipes away because I want you to have a

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lot of different ways to use the cookie nup,

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but I don't give away the cookie school sugar cookie and

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the cookie school petty for recipe.

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Those are for my students.

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And so I have gotten those copyrighted And the recipe for

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just cookie nip overall,

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right? Oh yeah.

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The recipe for cooking it.

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But I'll tell you,

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you're going to have to be a better chemist than I

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am to try to figure that out.

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I mean,

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I'm sure that somebody could be done,

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but what hopefully if somebody else decides I want to create

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a flavor,

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they will get the same advice that I got.

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You don't want a flavor that's like somebody else's flavor because

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then you're shooting yourself in the foot.

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You want to say,

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well, you know,

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I want to create one that is a coconut caramel,

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almonds, something,

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another blend of flavors.

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I can tell you,

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I have really learned a lot through this process.

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You think when you were at the end of your career,

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you are done learning until you just dive in the deep

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end and figure,

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well, if I can't do it,

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something will stop me.

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And it hasn't yet.

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But I'm sure there has been a time when you felt

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challenged when something hasn't gone right and there's been a problem.

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Right. But hopefully those are not things that I choose to

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dwell on because recall at the beginning of the conversation,

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I'm pursuing happiness.

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I'm not pursuing misery,

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and sometimes there are people around you who are pursuing misery.

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They'll say,

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well, I just don't like this flavor.

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I think it's gross and I'm going to put it in

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trash. Okay,

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well you do that.

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Yeah, you're just not my customer.

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Yeah. That's not who I am.

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Working hard to please.

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I'm working hard to play somebody that says,

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wow, I just put this in my sweet potato casserole for

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Thanksgiving and now I have a family secret recipe,

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but everybody wants,

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I just take joy and other people having success from some

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of the same things that I enjoy.

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Well, has there though in the development been,

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and this is more for learning purposes for our listeners,

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has there been something that was more of a struggle for

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you than you anticipated or the outcome wasn't quite what you

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wanted and so you had to figure out a way around

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it? Absolutely.

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I mean when there are agencies that are grading and scoring

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what you're doing,

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you've got to be able to follow the directions.

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You've got to be able to jump through a million hoops.

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Are you talking about the regulation agencies?

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Yeah, regulation agencies.

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I mean,

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you've got to be able to do those things because we're

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not trying to make an illegal substance in the Backwoods.

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We're trying to make something that we want people to use

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and we want them to be excited about it and we

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want everybody to have,

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you have to do what they ask.

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And looking back on it,

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it's not really anything that is unrealistic or that should not

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be required of somebody making a product for human consumption.

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So there were those kinds of frustrations.

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And one of the things is if you tend to abandon

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something, you know like sometimes when we get up against something

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that's difficult,

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a difficult situation,

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you're thinking,

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you know what,

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I don't have to do this.

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Why am I out here doing something that is causing me

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this level of frustration?

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Why don't I just drop the whole thing and just go

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back to doing what I know how to do so well.

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For one thing,

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having a business partner with me held me accountable that well,

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if I drop it,

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then I will be letting down someone else who has invested

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equally as I have in trying to figure out what we're

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going to do here.

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So that was helpful to me to realize I can not

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do it all.

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And when there's things that I don't know and the last

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time that I had chemistry was in the 11th grade and

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so I knew I've got to ask people,

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not just people who,

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I mean I've got chemistry teachers all over the place,

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but I got to have food chemists.

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I've got to have people who blend things and make things

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like that happened to tell me how to make what I

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was trying to do happen.

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I think I had some pretty good advisors.

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I listened to them and just decided if this doesn't work

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out, I can walk away from it and I haven't put

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myself or my family in any type of bad situation.

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But now that there are so many people using it,

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I think,

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okay, well let's just not an option to stop making this

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because I know how I am when you know I'll use

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a product for a certain period of time and then they

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have the nerve to stop making it and that's like how

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dare them.

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I am too old to be trying to find a new

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moisturizer and too old to be trying to get a different

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soft drink.

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Yeah. Well I appreciate your honesty because it's important for everybody

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to understand that we all have those thoughts from time to

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time. There've been times for me when it's like,

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why am I even doing this?

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I just don't even know if I want to come back

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tomorrow and my assistant Lori will be like,

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Sue, go home,

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get a good night's sleep.

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I'll see you back here first thing in the morning.

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But not all of us are lucky enough to have either

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people who are working with us or in your case a

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partner. And so another way that you can get people who

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can help rally for your cause would be to have accountability

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partners either,

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and I don't think I would suggest friends,

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but other small businesses in your area.

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That's another shout out for networking or something or within industry

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groups like we were just talking about the baking group and

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how supportive they are of each other.

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You know,

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when I went to my first trade show,

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I really thought that all of the vendors there were going

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to just view us as competition and not really be very

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helpful at all.

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They would be like,

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well, I'm selling a product here to the same customer that

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you're trying to sell a product to.

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I was so surprised at the opportunities for networking and how

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generous other people in the baking industry have been to us.

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Before I ever even went to cookie con.

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They sent me a list of vendors who would just be

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helpful if you've got any questions about what to bring or

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how to set up or how long it takes,

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call one of these people in this.

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People reached out and said,

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I'd love to help you.

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What are your questions?

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And I feel obligated to pay that forward as I move

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forward. The first year of the sugar show I think was

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this year,

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but I plan to try to be very helpful to the

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organizers of the sugar show next year and we're going to

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have a whole cookie school field trip up to Atlanta and

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tell them that I have got a lot of people who

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now are very into baking cookies and other things and we

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want to come and we want to be a showing in

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that sugar show industry.

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So as people have been very generous and helpful to me,

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I feel compelled to pay it forward to other new businesses

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like I am Well sad and you're paving the path.

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I mean you saw it done to you,

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but you also then are moving it forward.

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It's a good demonstration of how we can work with each

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other. Cause the truth is everybody who was coming to that

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sugar show that yes,

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they're all looking for different ingredients,

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different styles and all that,

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but we're all going after the same audience for different things.

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Right? So we actually can help each other.

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I have met so many people who are big names in

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the industry who say,

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I really like your product and I'm doing a promotion.

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Will you send us on heck yeah,

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we will.

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So it benefits me.

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It benefits them.

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So the networking opportunities are tremendous.

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If I were still sitting here with a box full of

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this stuff in my garage,

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I would be very narrowly focused on the cookie school students.

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But now that I have networked in the industry,

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I just know so many people in contexts that if I

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need help I know who to call.

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So you would say that the trade show opened your mind

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because you got a lot of new information about an industry

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that you were less than aware of?

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Right. The connections were worth more than the sales we made.

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We have made great sales at all of our trade shows

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so far.

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But I would say that if I went to a trade

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show and I made the contacts and I didn't sell a

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single bottle,

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it would still be a successful trade show because those are

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all people who are just like me.

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They are all doing the same thing.

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They all had an idea.

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They all think there's a better way to do something and

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they are just bringing their product to the people as well.

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And so it's been a lot of fun.

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It's been a huge learning curve for me.

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It's very natural for me to teach.

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It is not very natural for me to try to tell

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somebody anything about business,

Speaker:

but I have found other business people to be very generous

Speaker:

and sort of tell me some of the things they learned

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along the way,

Speaker:

and I take that advice and trade shows are expensive.

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That's not a cheap thing to do.

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I mean,

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you've got the expense of getting there and airfare and hotels

Speaker:

and getting your product there and taking additional people.

Speaker:

So it's an investment,

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but it is an investment well worth it.

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What would you say to somebody who's listening to us here

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and is thinking about turning whatever it is,

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their craft is,

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whatever they're loving,

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just like you were loving making cookies and decided to start

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the cookie school,

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what would you say to them?

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If they're hesitant,

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they're just,

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they're thinking,

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ah, yes.

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No, yes,

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no. What advice would you give them?

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I would say if people love what you do for them.

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For example,

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they loved my cookies.

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Whenever the list would come around the office,

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they had already signed me up for cookies before.

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That's how you know if I take cookies and give them

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to people and they like,

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if they ask me to bring cookies to the event,

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if they were then begging me to make cookies for their

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event that they are having,

Speaker:

then you can easily turn your creative vision into just a

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little extra spending money.

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Just do a little,

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make a few extra and because you don't need all the

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cookies. I didn't need as many cookies as much as I

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needed therapy of putting the frosting on them.

Speaker:

So I figured this is my therapy and you're helping me

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out here and then I get a little money and you

Speaker:

get your treats for your next event And you know your

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point is well taken.

Speaker:

You don't have to start selling your product and build this

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big business around it unless you want to.

Speaker:

It can be just a sideline.

Speaker:

It can be a weekend,

Speaker:

it can be enough money to bring your family on spring

Speaker:

break, Right?

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I, I always would have a goal as soon as I

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get enough money for the vacation that I want,

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then I'm just going to quit making cookies.

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But then I didn't because then people wanted more cookies or

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whatever. Or as soon as I get enough to,

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I want those new hardwood floors or something,

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and I've just got to figure out a way to get

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that. But the thing about crafters is they're good at what

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they do and they love doing it,

Speaker:

so they might as well share that because when you share

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it, that's when other people grow to call on you for

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something that they need.

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Yes. And for creative people,

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ideas are nothing.

Speaker:

There's so many in their head,

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they're banging into each other and other people will look at

Speaker:

a creative person and say,

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how did you think of that?

Speaker:

And the creative person looks at him and said,

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how did you not think of that?

Speaker:

These are the things that kind of keep me from going

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to sleep because I can't get these ideas out of your

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head. So I mean,

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use your gift,

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just use your gifts.

Speaker:

It is there for you to explore And you know what?

Speaker:

I hear in your voice too,

Speaker:

that this is added so much to your life.

Speaker:

Why would you possibly quit if you're so happy and you're

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enjoying it,

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right? Because I'm probably working more hours now than I was

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when I was teaching full time.

Speaker:

Do you feel you're even working?

Speaker:

Well, every single thing is something I really want to do.

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Whether I'm at my school or teaching my college students or

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teaching cooky school or even going to a trade show and

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meeting people.

Speaker:

It's been very personally fulfilling to me.

Speaker:

Okay. I am so excited to move on to my next

Speaker:

question with you because I can not wait to hear the

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answer. Okay.

Speaker:

Michelle, I'd like to offer you a virtual gift.

Speaker:

So this is a magical box that contains unlimited possibilities for

Speaker:

where you're going to go next.

Speaker:

Your dream or your goal of almost unreachable height that you

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would wish to obtain.

Speaker:

So accept this gift and open it in our presence.

Speaker:

What is inside your box?

Speaker:

Wow, that is deep.

Speaker:

My box has opportunity.

Speaker:

It just has opportunity for me to grow a business and

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continue to enjoy it the way I'm enjoying it now.

Speaker:

And there's no fear in there.

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There's no,

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well, what would happen if this happened?

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And so I think that the person who provides the biggest

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obstacle to where we are going is herself.

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And once we give ourselves permission to stand back and let

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the opportunities come find us,

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they will.

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But that's how I have to look at things.

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So I don't have an end game like,

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well, once I get a factory then I'll be fine.

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Or once I get a business or once this becomes a

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fortune 500 company or once this becomes anything,

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I just take one day at the time pursuing joy and

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grasping at whatever opportunity crops up that day.

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That's so beautiful,

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Michelle. Because what I hear frequently from people is they're so

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hurried and so rushed and so stressed out to get to

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their next goal and then they're not happy because then they're

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going to set another goal.

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They've been so stressed out from everything that's gone up to

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that, and what I always am telling people is enjoy every

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step of the way,

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enjoy when it was challenging,

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enjoy when you forgot what the recipe was in that perfect

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mix. I mean it's part of the game.

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It's not about the destination and so I don't look at

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there being this gift of a destination of,

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Oh well as soon as I have a factory then with

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a certain number of people filling bottles,

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then that will be the goal.

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I don't really know what the goal is,

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but I'm just approaching it.

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The way I used to approach the curiosity of gifted children

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is they would say,

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what if?

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And so we would start looking at,

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well what if that did happen?

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Then what would happen?

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And just chase it that way.

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And for me,

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I do have the luxury of not needing,

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I think probably something that gets people a little nervous about

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businesses is the risk that is involved,

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but with everything we're doing,

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there is risk.

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You could lose,

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but you're also highly motivated to do well.

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But because I'm doing this,

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in addition to bringing in an income for my family,

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doing what I do or what I'm educated for,

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then I don't have that kind of stress that,

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gosh, what if I had a commercial retail establishment and I

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don't earn enough this month to cover my rent?

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I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere.

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I think that helps.

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Young moms are some of the biggest geniuses on the planet.

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They in fact invent more things for babies than any other

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group of people.

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It's invented by people who have babies and neat things for

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that purpose,

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and they want to not take away from being the person

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their family needs them to be,

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but they still just had this longing to provide a little

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while feeding their own creative outlet.

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So for being able to take your baking to the next

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level and sell your cookies for being able to open a

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bakery or to have just specialized in cupcakes or pettifores or

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specialized just in cookies,

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there's where your value is.

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You can't say,

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if I start this business and within two years I don't

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have a factory,

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then this business wasn't successful.

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I evaluate every day and every day it is successful.

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Well, and what you said in the beginning,

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keep the enjoyment without the fear,

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joy, what you're doing,

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find value,

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have it be fulfilling you in your life and that's what

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you're looking at to move forward,

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which is fabulous.

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Again, a great one for all of us just to listen

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to and try to live by.

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When you start getting pulled off into that stress,

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just think about those words and it brings you back,

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right? So how can our listeners learn more about the cookie

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nip and get our hands on Sama for so inclined?

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Oh, you can follow the cookie school on Facebook or you

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can follow cookie NYP LLC on Facebook and on Instagram.

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Both of those run Instagram.

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There's also a cookie crumbs blog that I try to keep

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up and I send out recipes and so forth.

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And on the cookie nip.com

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website, there's an online store and you can order cooking it

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from the online store and depending on where you are,

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we have about 15 retailers currently.

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My goal is to have 20 before April I decided I

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want 20 in the first year.

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There will be no repercussions if I'm at 19 or at

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25 in April,

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but that's just kind of a direction that I'm going in.

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But we currently have 15 retailers so they have them in,

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Especially in our area.

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Okay. And gift biz listeners,

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if you are listening to this podcast right when it's going

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live, there are a couple of weeks before Christmas.

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Absolutely. So you should go look at that blog,

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check out a special cookie recipe that just piques your interest

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and maybe even get your hands on some cookie nip to

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add it to the cookies because believe me,

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you will not be disappointed and get yes.

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Guess who is endorsing cookie cooking this very week?

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Who? I'm excited.

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Who the biggest connoisseur of cookies on the planet.

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Do you know who it is?

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No. Who is it?

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Santa Claus.

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So if you want to get on the nice list,

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you better get you some cookies.

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There you go.

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Love it.

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Michelle, this has been so much fun.

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There has been so much depth to our conversation,

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so many really good solid pieces of advice.

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I really,

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really appreciate you taking the time and sharing with us today.

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Thank you.

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Wasn't that a fabulous interview?

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Such great information and the perfect product to have right before

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Christmas for sure.

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I want all of you to make sure to stay tuned

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for next week's show.

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It's going live on Christmas Eve and I have something a

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little special and magical lined up for you.

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It's going to be a really short podcast episode,

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but I know you're not going to want to miss it.

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It's my gift to you,

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so let's all plan to be together on Christmas Eve day.

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I'll see you then.

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Before we all move on to our other activities of the

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day, I want to make sure you know about my newly

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released free masterclass.

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It's called,

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how to turn your hobby into a business.

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How do you know if this is for you?

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Well, if you're starting a business right now,

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you've gotten that dream,

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but you're just not sure what steps you should be taking.

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This masterclass is for you if you're already in business,

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but something just isn't clicking.

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It's not bringing in the sales or it's just not performing

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the way you think it should.

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This masterclass is also for you to check it out.

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Just go over to gift biz,

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unwrapped.com forward slash masterclass.

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I look forward to seeing you over there and of course