An article on Appalachia Cookie Company in the Mountain Times
When David Holloman officially opened Appalachia Cookie Company one year ago, he never would have dreamt of the success his business has seen.
2014 not only exceeded expectations for Appalachia Cookie Co.; it outgrew them. In the past year, the cookie delivery business has seen national recognition by culinary luminary Paula Deen, a new shipment operation allowing people thousands of miles away to enjoy bites of Appalachian goodness and the dawn of a new philanthropy program that could feed Wataugans for years to come.
Not to mention that Appalachia Cookie Co. nearly broke the Internet with sales this year.
“I could not have imagined when we opened that we would have had the success that we had our first year,” Holloman said. “I look at my business plan from when we opened, and … we’re leaps and bounds ahead of what I was expecting.”
Appalachia Cookie Co. is the brainchild of Appalachian State University graduate Holloman, who, just more than a year ago, graduated with a double major in marketing and management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and minors in supply chain management and sustainable development.
His qualifications are ideal for someone starting a business, “but not necessarily for opening a bakery,” Holloman said. Before starting Appalachia Cookie Co., he had no formal training and little baking experience.
Before graduating, Holloman had already decided that Appalachia Cookie Co. was going to be his business endeavor. So, as a college senior, he chose staying in and baking cookies over going out and partying with the rest of his class.
“One day, I sat down and started baking cookies and just started putting together recipes, trying things,” he said. “We spent hours and hours developing the recipes. We baked a lot of bad cookies. It was a lot of trial and error, but we figured it out.”
Although Holloman hadn’t even graduated yet, he knew that he wanted to be his own boss. The decision to open a cookie delivery service was one of a few ideas he toyed around with before committing.
“There were a few different ideas that I had been researching and looking into, and this is the one that seemed the most viable,” he said. “It seemed like the one that required the least amount of capital to get up and running, and I had seen a similar idea somewhere else. I just thought that I could do it better, offer a better product and offer a better service.”
As an entrepreneur, one of Holloman’s first steps, after learning how to bake the perfect cookie, was promoting his business before opening. Prior to its official opening in January 2014, the business had between 1,500 and 2,000 likes on Facebook, Holloman said.
“It all happened kind of fast,” he said. “Getting the word out on social media, that’s when it started to feel like it was a really good idea. People were asking, ‘When are you opening?’”
Not even six months into being open, Holloman was approached by an editor of Cooking with Paula Deenmagazine. Holloman was in disbelief and even thought that it could’ve been an elaborate prank.
“She told me that the article was the top 10 cookies across America, and I still didn’t believe it,” Holloman said. “Sure enough, we were featured, which is awesome for being so new.”
In the same week that Holloman was contacted by Paula Deen, he received a call from a representative of WNCmagazine for another feature story. As the cookie company’s popularity skyrocketed, Capital at Play magazine picked up an 11-page and front-page feature of Appalachia Cookie Co.
Paula Deen recommended readers try the blueberry white chocolate oatmeal cookie, but that is only one of four very popular choices, the others being chocolate chip, cheesecake and the Ron Swanson (made with bacon, Jack Daniel’s and maple syrup).
New cookies for 2015 include Funfetti, and Holloman has thrown around other ideas, such as lavender lemon shortbread and red wine dark chocolate for Valentine’s Day.
With the huge success of 2014, 2015 has a lot to live up to with Appalachia Cookie Co. This year, Holloman sees expansion and refinement.
Appalachia Cookie Co.’s shipment operation, which was instituted in November 2014, is one venture Holloman sees as a major focus in the upcoming year.
The company has already delivered domestically to North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Washington, California and Hawaii. It’s also shipped to Ireland, Japan and France, but only to send cookies to long-distance friends and family. Appalachia Cookie Co. does not offer international shipping as of now.
Another venture Appalachia Cookie Co. plans to instate this year is a philanthropy endeavor overseen by director Grace Neely, called the 30/30 Project, which aims every month to ship subscribers a box of a dozen cookies for the cost of $30 monthly, while donating enough out of the $30 to the Hunger and Health Coalition to go toward supplying a local family with 30 pounds of food.
“So the idea is that, at first, maybe we’ll have 100 subscriptions,” Holloman said. “That’ll be 3,000 pounds of food, which is kind of huge. I think as this grows, we will really be able to make a significant impact on not only our community, but also the surrounding communities and anywhere else we have locations.”
Holloman hopes the program will be up and running by February or March.
“We’re still playing around with it a little bit, and we’ll fine-tune it after we even get started, but it’ll be half a dozen of our cookie of the month and an assortment of other cookies,” Holloman said.
Also in the cards for this year, Holloman is looking for another location to set up shop, including a more central walk-in location in downtown Boone, while maintaining the current location (368-4 N.C. 105 Bypass in Boone) strictly as a shipping operation.
“It would be nice to be on King Street,” Holloman said. “I think that we could handle it. I think we would do really well down there, honestly.”
On top of larger endeavors, Holloman also said another goal in 2015 is to work on some housekeeping for the shop, like updating the website, improving delivery speed and focusing on a better quality product.
“That’s something that we are always working on,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to see what happens.”
For more information on Appalachia Cookie Co., or to order some of your own, visit www.appcookieco.com, or call (828) 355-4448.
by Erika Giovanetti
Original Article from Watauga Democrat: https://www.wataugademocrat.com/mountaintimes/columns/appalachia-cookie-co-delivers-and-delights/article_e829859a-96a1-11e4-afda-f39b2ac8055b.html