Julie Waxman ’91 is reinventing the chocolate chip cookie
Julie Dugoff Waxman ’91, wonders why anyone would eat a boring generic chocolate chip cookie when they could eat one in color. Waxman, the founder and owner of Baked in Color, is changing the way people think about chocolate chip cookies. Every day, Baked in Color bakes vibrantly-colored cookies to sell in their shops and ship around the country. From rainbows to sports teams to holidays, any combination of color is possible with these cookies.
Baked in Color is only a few years old, but Waxman has always had entrepreneurship in her bones. During her time at Cornell, Waxman took a business class called Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, which required her to develop a product and a business plan, and strategize how to execute that plan. She and her two partners created a cookie delivery business; they took orders and delivered warm cookies and a quart of milk to customers’ doors. In 1991 pre-internet time, Waxman and her partners spread the word by posting flyers all over campus. The concept was a hit – so much so that they rented space in Ithaca and operated the business throughout their senior year.
After leaving Ithaca, Waxman spent a decade working as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue and then a merchandise manager at Macy’s developing product lines. When she started a family, she shifted to doing consultant work and continuing to closely follow market trends, all the while searching for the next step in her career.
The “aha moment” for her new enterprise came when Waxman was with her daughter in a bakery and noticed the intensely-colored rainbow bagels. “I love desserts and I love color,” Waxman said. “The trend in desserts was, and still is, color.” Everything from cakes to cupcakes to Rice Krispie Treats are made in bright colors. Thinking back to her cookie selling days at Cornell, she searched the internet for chocolate chip cookies, “The only thing in 2016 that I saw was a brown cookie,” Waxman said. “In cookies, the only color to be found was in macarons, which are expensive, almond-based, and very different, and sugar cookies, which are very labor intensive. I knew I had a great concept, and a great recipe from my days at Cornell that just needed some tweaking.”
Waxman baked thousands of cookies to perfect the recipe and magical colors of her product. She then delivered 500 colorful bags of free cookies to her contacts all around New York City. She included a menu in those bags and “75 percent of people ordered within six months,” Waxman says. “It was the craziest return on my investment.” Instead of posting flyers like in 1991, she posted on Instagram. With immediate re-posts by several Instagram Influencers, the opening of the first kiosk in Manhattan, and a video by Insider Media that went viral, Baked in Color was off and running.
“Aside from the rainbow cookie, it’s so much about customization,” Waxman says. A large part of Baked in Color’s business comes from university and corporate clients, as well as special events such as fashion shows and weddings, all who order custom-colored cookies. “We’re shipping cookies to the Master’s Tournament through ESPN,” Waxman said, “And I’m really hoping to take the brand to the next level with another big sports collaboration, like with Madison Square Garden.”
Waxman is constantly networking and expanding the possibilities for Baked in Color. But it all comes back to the cookie. Waxman sees how her cookies make people happy. “Our cookies are delicious and beautiful; they make people happy.”