Photo taken by Andi Jones
Founder and owner of Kooky Cookies, Margarita McClure, shares the values of focusing on the customer along with using whole ingredients for a better experience and a better cookie.
Tennessee was ranked third in best states for business by CNBC’s 2023 ranking of business climates, so it is not surprising that Knoxville is a growing hub for start-ups and new businesses. One of these businesses is Kooky Cookies which is founded and owned by Margarita McClure. McClure is a minority and female business owner with experience opening her own restaurant, working as a health coach and now cookie connoisseur.
When thinking about what she has learned as a woman in business, McClure stressed the importance of working in the industry that you hope to own a business in. When McClure opened a restaurant, she found there were a lot of gray areas with having employees and saw the need to understand every aspect of a business in order to run it.
McClure has had previous experience when starting up a business with specific plans and budgets, but Kooky Cookies actually began as a learning experience for her four children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, McClure noticed her children needed an outlet to learn how to apply the skills they were learning over virtual classes. She chose the cookie industry because of its relatability to her children.
“My daughter is known in her school as the cookie queen,” McClure said.
In McClure’s opinion, the biggest challenge in the beginning stages of Kooky Cookies was the guessing game of figuring out how much product to make. McClure shared the launch of Kooky Cookies on social media and was not expecting such a positive response. In the first four weeks, she made around triple the amount of money that she was used to making as a health coach.
McClure strongly believes in the importance of focusing on the customer when running a business and it has become one of the key values of Kooky Cookies. McClure often stresses the importance of representation and presentation of their items. When selling a large order to a corporation, the cookies become a representation of the company’s choice to their clients or employees, and it is important to keep that in mind.
“People don’t buy just because they want a cookie. It’s never about the cookie. It’s about the connection,” McClure said.
One way that Kooky Cookies ensures that its customers are able to feel valued and connected is by offering a gluten free option for every one of their flavors. For most dessert stores and bakeries, there may be one or two gluten free options, and they rarely reflect the standard options. Kooky Cookies wanted to remove the limitations of being gluten free. Offering gluten free options helps customers feel included rather than set apart.
Molly Claiborne left a Google review talking about Kooky Cookie’s allergy-friendly options.
“They have the best gluten free cookies I have ever had,” Claiborne said.
In addition to offering gluten free and other allergy free items, Kooky Cookies only uses whole ingredients in the baking process, and everything is made from scratch. McClure wanted to ensure the best cookies for her customers, so she requires better ingredients for better quality.
With the holiday season coming up, Kooky Cookies will soon start to serve its holiday collection. McClure is most excited for the Nutella snowball cookies which are crinkle cookies stuffed with Nutella. These cookies and their other holiday options will be available in December.