A small cottage business that started out as a way for an 8-year-old to earn money for a new bike has made waves in the Pueblo baking scene, garnering a top-three spot in the recent Best of Pueblo contest.
It all started last summer when Kennadi Garcia, a Villa Bella Expeditionary Elementary School student, told her dad, Christapher Garcia, she wanted a new bike. He suggested they find a way for her to earn a little money to help pay for it.
“Kennadi and I always enjoy working in the kitchen together, so I suggested we make cookies to sell to friends and family to earn a little money,” Garcia recalled.
Through the power of social media, he started posting about Kennadi’s fund drive and “it really exploded,” he said. Before they knew it, she had $100 to pitch in for her new bike and the whole exercise “turned into what is now a business,” he said.
Garcia himself is no stranger to entrepreneurship having run a DJ, event planning and marketing company for 15 years. Still, he admitted he “never thought” the father-daughter hobby “would turn into anything, but we saw an opportunity to do something together.”
Through the Colorado Department of Public Health, they are taking advantage of the Cottage Goods law which allows them to bake the cookies at home and sell them directly to the public. As the interest in Kennadi’s Kookies has grown, they are now working toward a manufactured food license so they can sell even more cookies.
“It has grown more than we anticipated. Early on Kennadi said, ‘Why don’t we ship one cookie to everyone in America?’ and I knew we couldn’t do that, but it became our goal to ship cookies to all 50 states,” Garcia said.
Again, with the help of social media, in just 75 days, they reached that goal, marking each new state on a map as they shipped out the cookies.
“With the awesome response from the community, we asked those who had tried Kennadi’s Kookies to nominate us for the Best of Pueblo. We made it into the top five and then we made it into the top three,” Garcia said.
Chieftain readers who voted in the Best of Pueblo dessert category voted Taffy’s their favorite and both East Coast Pizza and Kennadi’s Kookies were named finalists. After all, who could resist those irresistible cookie flavors like mild to spicy Pueblo Green Chile, a hot cocoa cookie or cinnamon toast crunch?
“We are going to fight for the top spot next year,” Garcia said.
A family affair
The cookie bakers have involved the whole family in the business.
“We decided it would be fun to name the cookies after family members or childhood memories,” Garcia said.
“The Boys” is a Reeses peanut butter cup cookie that is loved by Kennadi’s brothers, Landon and Rowan Schamp. “Chocolate Chunk” is an extra-large chocolate chunk cookie that is named after the family’s two pudgy pooches.
The “Poor Kids Cookie,” is a nod to Garcia’s grandfather. The cherry chip cookie reminds Garcia of the free cookie samples he and his siblings would repeatedly return to the bakery to get during trips to King Soopers where they hoped to get more than one.
“He told us ‘You aren’t poor kids, grandpa will buy you some more cookies,’” Garcia recalled.
Garcia’s girlfriend, Carrie Schamp, has become the “CEO of quality control and flavor testing,” he joked.
Each new batch of cookies is baked with a mini cookie morsel that Schamp happily samples to provide feedback.
“I take my test tasting seriously,” she said with a laugh, but she is unable to name her favorite cookie.
“We will have to come up with ‘The Girlfriend’ sample pack that is full of a bunch of different mini cookies,” Garcia joked.
Schamp is not alone in her inability to pick a favorite. Kennadi herself said she can’t either.
Customers seem to favor the chocolate chunk and cinnamon toast crunch cookies, Garcia said, but because the duo creates what is “not your average cookie,” the flavors include the hot cocoa topped with toasted marshmallows and peppermint bark for Christmas; apple pie, allspice and pumpkin flavors during the fall and Halloween cookies featuring the top three candy bar choices voted on by Facebook followers.
Garcia is most passionate about the Pueblo green chile cookies featuring Musso Farms chiles.
“We make them from mild to really hot with some of their dynamite-status chiles. They are really good,” Garcia said.
Kennadi is not especially vocal about her business venture, and tells precious few of her classmates about it.
“Most of them don’t know,” she admitted, but her best friend, Kali Andasola, helps out with deliveries and they like to wear their matching “Kennadi’s Kookies” T-shirts to school sometimes.
To find out more about Kennadi’s Kookies, visit the Facebook page or email email@example.com.
Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business news. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at twitter.com/tracywumps.