Merchant Spotlight: Ten Thousand Cookies

All Ashley and Hunter Greeno wanted was another child. So a few years ago, they decided to adopt.

The problem? Affordability. Domestic adoption in the U.S. can cost families upwards of $40,000. So the Greenos decided to bake and sell delicious, gluten-free cookies to fund their adoption… and Ten Thousand Cookies was born.

The idea behind Ten Thousand Cookies, the Community Prize winner of Cratejoy’s first-ever Subscription Box Accelerator Program, was simple. Ashley would bake and sell 10,000 cookies to help fund their family’s adoption. And quickly, it became clear that these cookies were too delicious to hold back! They were so popular, in fact, that the Greenos decided to expand their operations into a “Cookie Crate” subscription box and applied to our Accelerator Program.

After only a few months since the end of the program, the Greenos ship hundreds of freshly baked cookies a month. Even more exciting? They recently passed the 8,000-cookie mark!

From Baking to Business

Ashley Greeno, as Ten Thousand’s website will attest, is a “stress baker.” So channeling her serious baking talent into a solution to their stressful situation felt natural. “We were already baking and decorating cookies,” Ashley says, “but now we’re shipping them all over the country!”

The Greenos’ decision to apply for the Accelerator Program was a pretty straightforward one. “When I started researching subscription services,” Ashley explains, “Cratejoy was the first to come up. When I read a little more, I found the info about the Accelerator Program and I loved the idea of walking through it from start to launch with a community!”

Ashley was an integral part of that community, always cheering on her fellow entrepreneurs in the program’s Facebook group. Last November, she even volunteered to help fellow grad Katie, of the Lash Artist Box, pack boxes with a limited-edition sugar cookie in the shape of eyelashes!

Check it out: See how Ashley designs an eyelash cookie in her IGTV tutorial.

The community wasn’t the only source of support Ashley found for her business, however. Through the Accelerator’s weekly lessons, the Greenos learned how to build a prelaunch, tackle the fulfillment process, set up shipping and billing cycles, and more. “It was a LOT in a short amount of time, but it felt good to make so much progress in 6 weeks.”

“I knew that we needed a prelaunch, but was very overwhelmed by how to execute. In the course, I learned how to create a landing page and engage an audience, build an email list, create automated welcome sequences, and evaluate their success to continue to modify and improve.”

Launch (and Beyond)

When the course began to wrap up, Ashley found herself fretting about the box’s impending launch. “I was a mess the week before launch… I was so nervous that no one would subscribe,” she says. “Having the Accelerator group for encouragement and accountability made such a huge difference that week!”

Now that their subscription business has taken off, Ashley and Hunter work together to meet their monthly ship date.  “It’s usually great, but we are also both working and we have a 7-year-old, so it can be difficult sometimes… especially when I’m shipping out 44 dozen cookies in one weekend,” Ashley says. “He’s great at the support stuff. He’ll bake so I can decorate and he helps with packaging and deliveries!”

Two months after launch, the Greenos had already reached 65% of the way to their goal. And at the pace Cookie Crates have continued to sell, the family expects to meet their funding goal by the time they’re matched with a baby!

But they aren’t stopping with the Cookie Crates once they meet that goal. Baking is rapidly becoming a full-time business for the family.

“In a year, I would love to have bakers on staff to do the majority of the baking so I can take a little break and have more time with the baby.”

The Final Batches

Since last winter, the Greenos have doubled their subscription offerings from 3 to 6 cookie boxes. Subscribers can choose between frosted sugar, chocolate chip, “monster,” peanut butter, Paleo almond butter, a sampler (of sugar, chocolate chip, and monster cookies), and a “DIY cookie kit” with sugar cookies and decorating supplies. It’s this willingness to push limits and explore new experiences for customers that makes Ten Thousand Cookies one of a kind.

Not every baking box would be willing to go all gluten-free, for instance, and not every business would be so willing to let its customers see behind the curtain (so to speak). The Greenos’ openness about their story has helped them grow a truly supportive community around their business. “Our supporters are amazing!” Ashley says.

“I love the feedback from people who haven’t had sugar cookies since they found out about their gluten allergies and the people who have their own adoption stories and want to be a part of ours!”

So what did the Greenos plan to do with the winnings they earned from the Accelerator’s Community Prize? They’re not quite sure yet. “I’m genuinely so surprised by winning,” Ashley confesses. For now, they’re planning to reinvest in the business – perhaps a bigger mixer, perhaps a virtual assistant to help with administrative tasks – and save the rest for their family’s next chapter.

In the end, Ashley’s main takeaway from this experience is a characteristically optimistic and supportive one. “[I]f we can do it, anybody can,” she tells us. “We had no experience or knowledge of having a subscription business and no email list!”

“I think the key to our success is being SO clear as to WHY we’re doing it. If you can figure out that first, the rest comes together!”

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