THE IMPERFECT SHOW NOTES
To help make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who like to read rather than listen to podcasts, here are our show notes.
These show notes come via the Otter.ai service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.
Betsy Cohen 00:00
When I was getting divorced, I was told to go get a job. And I was meeting with this pastry chef who was a friend, she’d done work for me. I’d ordered cakes and desserts from her in the past. So we were getting together for coffee and chatting. And we’re together probably about two hours in the last 15 minutes. She looked at me and so what’s doing with your life as well? Let’s see. I’m getting divorce. I’m looking for a part time job very flexible hours. You know, Sammy was little, and she’s like, what? And she asked me if I would work for her in the office.
Achim Nowak 00:38
Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a FIVE ACT play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am so delighted to welcome Betsy Cowen to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. Betsy is a divorced mother of four who lives in Palm Beach Gardens and loves desserts. In 2012, when Betsy was given the opportunity to work part time, in the office of a bakery, owned by one of the most talented pastry chefs in the country. If a few years later have Betsy launched happy delicious by Betsy, a gorgeously curated and very happy brand of edible cookie dough that she ships to anywhere in the United States. I am thrilled to learn more about bed seats worth act entrepreneurs story. Hello, Betsy.
Betsy Cohen 01:55
How are you? I am well.
Achim Nowak 01:59
There’s so many wonderful facets to your story. And before we get to happy wishes, which I want to talk about, of course, I always wonder when you were growing up, you’re a young girl, a teenager. And you know how parents ask us like what do you want to do when you grow up? What was on Betty’s mind,
Betsy Cohen 02:18
I wanted to be a mom. I didn’t grow up in a household where two parents worked outside of the home until actually my mother and father divorced. And then my mother needed to go work outside of the home. But it wasn’t discussed that women would have careers and in my parents circle, their friends didn’t have careers the women were stay at home moms. So that was what I always thought I thought you go to college, you get your Mrs. And you start having a family. So that was really that was it. Finances were not discussed ever. Just that was it. So the goal was to become a mom, which I did. So that was a plus.
Achim Nowak 03:12
If the journey was to become a mom and have children and obviously hopefully meet a wonderful spouse who makes you happy, how soon after college, did that happen? Or How soon did you find that person?
Betsy Cohen 03:23
I worked my I had interned at a television station in Cleveland, which is where I grew up. My senior year of high school. And the gentleman I worked with in the public relations department really took pity on me. I think he gave me a job every summer at the TV station. And the TV station was owned by Scripps Howard, which is a very large broadcast company, and they had a station in West Palm Beach. So when I was graduating University of Miami, in Florida, the sunny UAM. I reached out and there was no way they were going to hire somebody in at that point. I think Cleveland was like the 13th market in the country and they weren’t going to hire somebody right out of college into sales. So they hired me in West Palm Beach. And I work there I met my husband when I was 26 We were married when I was 27 and my first son was born when I was 29. And at that point I was a stay at home mom.
Achim Nowak 04:33
And and I asked you before I say this okay to talk about your age. So you’re in your early 60s now and your children, you have this wonderful range and spread Would you just let our listeners know about it because it’s a wonderful mom’s story.
Betsy Cohen 04:48
I do I have three bigs and a little and my bigs are 3230 and 27. And then there’s a 10 year gap up. And then I have my 17 year old. And when the baby Samuel was born, my bigs were sitting around the kitchen table, and my oldest one looked at me and said, nobody has four children nowadays. One of us has a mistake. So it’s either the oldest or the youngest. And I looked at my oldest and told him quite honestly, Samuel, the baby was the most planted the four children. And his little face went from like, oh, oh, but they were all. So it’s, it’s great. It’s a wonderful spread. And it’s great to see that dynamic of the kids with an age gap. And, you know, Samuel has spent a good chunk of his time as an only child, but he will never be an only child, because his siblings would never let him have that mentality of only child.
Achim Nowak 05:56
Now, as you’re describing, being a full time mother, and we’re going to talk about your business in a moment. So what I’m wondering is, along the way, did you ever have any secret hankerings to have a business? Or was that just not in your consciousness until it happened,
Betsy Cohen 06:16
I was very involved with charities, I am a very huge advocate of giving back to the community, and that everyone is able to give back in some way. Some do it financially, some do it with time, I have always had that feeling and have tried to instill that with my children as well. I’ve always loved baking it since I was a child, I have loved baking, I love dessert, much more than I liked the main course, so that authentically mashed, I had cottage businesses, a couple of them along the way for baking. And what I realized is, I really didn’t like being beholden to an oven, that I didn’t like having to stay up until all hours of the night because the cheesecakes needed to cool. And then they had to go to the next step. So I can’t say that I really thought about earnestly starting a business, there was one point that I had a cottage business and somebody else had approached me about doing it together. And we were going to do it together. And then just before we were signing the papers, I remember having the conversation with my husband at the time just saying this isn’t what I want to do. You know, I want to be with our son. And I didn’t realize at the time I was also pregnant with my second one. And it just worked out that way. So I’ve always loved baking, I’ve always loved entertaining.
Achim Nowak 07:58
Now when I just introduced you, and this is part of how you tell the story of have malicious. You know, you talk about working part time in this office of a famous pastry chef. But what struck me is you were not working in the kitchen. You were working in the office. Right? Exactly. What was it like to be an office worker in with a pastry chef when you have yourself a passion for sweets.
Betsy Cohen 08:22
I loved it because what I didn’t enjoy. When I had the cottage business, I didn’t enjoy being beholden to the ovens. And that is really if you’re in a baking shop, timing everything with the ovens. I also I am a baker. I am not a pastry chef. And there is such a clear distinction between those two. So I would not have been qualified, truly to work in the kitchen at that level, or doing anything that I may have enjoyed doing. I should also add. I didn’t know the office side of it. And we I just kind of stumbled into the job. When I was getting divorced. I was told to go get a job. And I was meeting with this pastry chef who was a friend. She’d done work for me. I’d ordered cakes and desserts from her in the past. So we were getting together for coffee and chatting and we’re together probably about two hours and the last 15 minutes she looked at me and so what’s doing with your life as well. Let’s see. I’m getting divorce. I’m looking for a part time job very flexible hours. You know, Sammy was little and she’s like, what? And she asked me if I would work for her in the office. And I’m so thankful for that because I have a degree in business. But I don’t remember what I learned in school. And I am very thankful that I got to see that side of the business and I listened a lot to what went on in the kitchen. You know that the office was small.
Achim Nowak 09:59
What I love I love so many things about that story. But I, in my own business where I’ve been, I’ve been blessed. I’ve had multiple businesses, but you know, I’m not constantly get marketing advice and all these things, and I, everything happened in my life because of the power of relationship, which is what you just talked about. And now, and when we have strong relationships have been people who love us and support us. There is this I believe in organic growth with some marketing, right? So I do my marketing stuff, but your story is so beautiful. I have two questions that are related. And I’m trying to figure out which order so one is, how do you go from working in the office of pastry chef to saying I’m going to start a business that involves one cookie dough and happy Alicia’s is about edible cookie dough, where you have multiple options of of experiencing cookie dough, which is I think the the edge to what you offer, would you maybe talk a little bit about both of those.
Betsy Cohen 11:02
Sure. Part of my love of baking was that I had a dessert blog that I started in 2011. And when I started that blog, people looked at they had no idea what a blog was, you know, I am 62 my age wasn’t blogging, it was a much younger thing. And I got very involved in a food and wine conference in Orlando that always helped with connections in terms of knowing people in that business. But let me actually backtrack one step to how did I come about to the edible cookie dough. Every day at lunch, when I worked in that custom pastry shop, the cakes were made to order. So customers would get really angry if they came to pick up their cake. And it was missing a slice because I happen to be hungry. So I wasn’t allowed to eat the cake. And the only thing I could eat was a frozen chocolate chip cookie dough ball. And I ate that every day. For the three years that I worked there. That was my lunch. And when I flew up to see my nieces in New Jersey, they introduced me to edible cookie dough. And you know, they pulled out this jar and they’re opening it up and say try this to you Betsy and no raw egg don’t. And that’s how I learned about edible cookie dough. And I loved the concept of it. Because again, I didn’t like being beholden to an oven. Yeah. And this afforded me the opportunity to do something I love with sweets in a way that authentically resonated to. So I came back home and I worked on chocolate chip. And I had a conference for the Food Wine coming up. I took tubs of the chocolate chip cookie dough to this conference and I posted on the Facebook page for the group saying I’m sitting outside this restaurant come try this. And I just was shoving spoons at people here. Try this. Try this. What do you think? Would you change it? What do you like? What don’t you like wood. And when I left this food conference, I had 150 food bloggers telling me I had an amazing product. And that meant more to me than any kind of focus group I could do on my own. So that was what launched it.
Achim Nowak 13:29
A word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast www.my Fourth active.com You will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation how do you go from that beautiful experience with incredible validation to getting the word out more and producing cookie dough on more of a scale? So as a fellow business owner, I’m going this Betsy do this on our own that she has helped, like how did she get this all done?
Betsy Cohen 14:27
When I first started I was doing individual balls of dough. And I was I got a cake ball press machine by hand but it would roll more at a time. And that was definitely not the best use of time but it was again an evolution of the product. I do everything on my own. I still do although I will be able to bring people in when I need people that’s been beneficial. The to transition from 150 foodies saying food blogger saying this is amazing to just starting, was really I think the naivete of I’m going to do this. Yeah. And, and just doing it and just starting it, I reach out to people regularly. My first reach out was to a former business professor of mine at University of Miami, who I said, you know, I wish I could tell you that I remember what you taught me, but I don’t. But I know to reach out to smart people, and you’re one of them, would you help me? And what I have found, and I like to believe I pay forward as well, is people want to help other people. There’s so much good that everybody has within. And oftentimes people don’t know how to help somebody. Which is where you have to advocate for yourself. I don’t know this, would you help me? Do you know somebody at I have worked with FIU. In Miami, they have a startup program, FIU, startup food that
Achim Nowak 16:13
our international listeners, that’s Florida International University, from all over the world, listen to this conversation. So
Betsy Cohen 16:21
thank you for that clarification and helping people with that. They have a program that is remarkable. And Dr. Anna Etienne is the spearhead of this program. They just advocate for the participants of the program and really helped with all facets that if you need a mentor in finance, we’ll find you somebody in finance, if you need help with marketing, we’ll help you with marketing. And that carry through to actually the, you know, the pandemic pivot, which, you know, that wall that so many of us slammed into like a Mack truck I worked with, I call him Bill Nye the Science Guy in food science. And gentleman who PhD incredible man helped me formulate the jars, which is outside of my purview, I would not know how to do that. And safety is first and foremost. With my product. I think just asking people, I think you have to ask people for help.
Achim Nowak 17:27
That’s such powerful wisdom. You know, I and many of us have to learn to ask for help. And that’s actually a sign of strength and not weakness. And your your story, you just you tell it so beautifully. Since you mentioned the jars, one of the things I love. Well, let me let me talk about the name first happy Licious. By Betsy, there’s obviously a lot of thought that went into it, you clearly chose to put the word happy in there. So would you explain the meaning to you? Why you chose that
Betsy Cohen 18:04
happy Licious. It was a group effort, I cannot take credit. I’m somebody that if I see a blank slate, a white board, it will stay white forever. Because I don’t have that creativity. But again, I have great friends and family who are creative. So I reached out to them and said, you know, this is what I’m thinking of this is what I’m doing. I need help with a name. And it was kind of a group effort. And happy Licious is because it is happy and it’s delicious. I think we should have happiness in every part of our day. If at the end of the day, you can’t name one thing that made you happy, then you need to turn the kaleidoscope a little bit and think of your day differently. So it’s authentically happy, and it’s authentically delicious. By Betsy we added or I included and in hindsight, quite frankly, if I had a name if I had a Gordon Ramsay happy wishes by Gordon Ramsay. Well, that would make sense by Betsy doesn’t. So now I pretty much do happy Licious and I talk about it as happy Licious. More than happy wishes by Betsy. But that was also a good marketing lesson I learned that I have paid forward to others. When they’ve talked to me about names. They’re thinking about that. There is an ego component that thinks well I own this this is mine and there’s a pride factor. But if part of it isn’t going to really help the business or mean anything then then that’s white noise that doesn’t need to be there.
Achim Nowak 19:46
I love happy Licious by Betsy, thank you just want to say that because on some deep level and I’m in a different business. People buy the service and there are other people who do something similar to what I do. But in the end, they bind me. Now I know that they’re not eating you ribs really right. But your energy, your spirit, your consciousness isn’t what you offer. Right. So I love delicious by Betsy, thank you if we just let’s dig a little more into the happy part because what what I find is so enticing about your offer, you mentioned the jars that beautifully labeled. When you present in social media, what you do, you are offering not just the cookie, but you’re offering the experience of savoring something that makes you feel good. And that’s clearly very intentional. So I’m going to ask you to shamelessly brag on yourself and how you present something that on one level could sound very mundane cookie dough. But your presentation is much larger than that.
Betsy Cohen 20:58
Part of that goes back to the blogging days, where I learned a lot about videography, and photography, I bring that to what I produce. There are people who are so much more talented than I am that but what the level that I have works for what I’m doing. And I think the experience is important. I think people because personally, I have a sweet tooth, I want something, it doesn’t mean I sit down and I eat a whole jar because really, I have never sat down and eaten a whole jar at one sitting. Other people are able to props, whatever works works best for them. But I think it’s important to bring an experience, I think it’s important to let people know it’s okay. To have a sweet indulgence, have a gourmet product that uses quality ingredients and have a little bit you know, you don’t have to eat it in one sitting unless you want to. You could just open up the jar, take a spoonful and enjoy. Or you could put it into ice cream, you can make a chocolate covered pretzels sandwich, I do a lot of things in the middIe waffle maker with the cookie dough. I think it’s fun to show people how you can enjoy it. And then the jars also afforded us the ability to do custom labels, which opened up a whole new avenue because then we’re talking about party favors. Whether it’s a wedding, a birthday party, Bar Mitzvah, or a business event, we can individually wrap them or hand them to you and they’re beautiful on their own. We include a little wooden spoon with them as well. So that it makes it easy for somebody just open up and enjoy. Did also open up the option for businesses have been very fortunate to work with the Orange Bowl on custom labels. And I work with the University of Miami on custom labels and law firms and banks. And it is a wonderful way of standing out is in a fun and unique way.
Achim Nowak 23:21
You talked about chocolate chip was your first offer but you have a wonderful range of flavors and you have some perhaps unexpected flavors. So I’m curious, how do you experiment with flavors? How do you come up with the next thing?
Betsy Cohen 23:38
Well, I chocolate chip was first. And I knew thinking of grocery stores, which when I first started that was my goal was grocery thinking okay, how many SKUs will I be in a grocery store? I had four classic flavors at the time. And that was when I was doing individual balls. I also had booze ease and the booze ease are just fun. The booze is an ingredient, not an intoxicant show the way that the best way I could describe it as if you think of a vanilla extract that you use in a cookie. It uses that percentage. So it is something that anybody could enjoy. You could eat an entire batch and you will not be drunk. You won’t even have a buzz you might have a stomachache but you want to have a buzz. So the flavor profiles. I started with chocolate chip brownie peanut butter and oatmeal raisin which was a gluten free option. As well as Uzi coffee. There were many more. And what I realized was there were too many in different directions. And it was really the pandemic pivot and that wall that helped me refocus a little bit and slim down on In the childhood classic flavors that for a period of time it was chocolate chip and birthday party. And then the booze ease as well. The flavors come about, usually because wow, I would love to try this. And I’ll give it a try. boozy cinnamon donut, which is one of my favorites. Kind of like a snickerdoodle was another name we played with for it. That came up because my daughter was getting married. And I wanted to do party favors for her. So I asked her, you know, what kind of flavor would you like? She gets the credit for that chocolate peanut butter that we just launched. Fast forward two years, my daughter is expecting a baby. And I said to her, Okay, I want to do a little shower with, you know, the people you grew up with the friends of mine you grew up with and flavor. What are you thinking? I do you want chocolate peanut butter? Or do you want snickerdoodle. And as a childhood classic flavor, I thought for sure she was going to pick snickerdoodle. And she said chocolate peanut butter, which was perfect because I needed that kind of flavor in the mix.
Achim Nowak 26:11
As well as your classic entrepreneur question, because there are the joyful moments. And there can be challenging moments for any entrepreneur. Always. So take us into your journey with happy Licious if you had to describe the moment or two weeks ago. This is when I just love having happy wishes this this moment made me happy. But also what’s maybe been one of the two most challenging things you had to face and learn about
Betsy Cohen 26:40
the joy is I think the custom labels bring me so much joy, because affords the recipient the opportunity to express to either their business associates, or people they love and care about. It represents who they are in a fun way. And that lends itself back to the happiness part of it, that I really treasure and enjoy. Challenge. I think the biggest challenge for me was understanding the financial part of the business. That one quite frankly, I give credit to Shirley Mehta who is with the venture mentoring team. Because she is amazing at that and really helped me get it where she didn’t make me feel like I was a moron and had no idea of things that I should have known but didn’t know. And it’s hard as someone who did not grow up talking about money to then admit the shortcomings of understanding finances. So that definitely was a huge hurdle for me, and that once again, FIU made that contact with the VMT. And surely by the grace of God came into my life.
Achim Nowak 28:20
I’m curious, since we talked about your four children, and you spoke about them so lovingly, but as somebody who started a business later in life, do your children think oh, this is just a wonderful hobby that mommy has? Or Oh, damn, she’s become a business woman, or is it somewhere in between? How do they view your enterprise?
Betsy Cohen 28:42
I don’t know that they Give It Thought. I mean, maybe they do. I think they they love the product that makes me very happy. But it’s just a part of mums journey. Know that I don’t the bigs were really out of the house when I started it. So I don’t know that it would have impacted one way or the other in Samuel, because he was so young, when I got divorced, has always known me out of the house for part of it. You know, the conflict of time when I need to work different hours, and I definitely give myself the grace of a weekend doesn’t have to be a Saturday, Sunday, a weekend, weekend day could be any day that I pick it to be. But there are times that I’m not able to do certain things or I have a conflict and we just work. It’s just part of what we do. So I’m, I am very blessed with great kids.
Achim Nowak 29:55
Are you mentioned you’re 62 Yes, Samuel will soon be going to college. as well as right or it sounds like you will. I’m not assuming that you need to have any kind of vision for the next few years. But do you think ahead do you think of these things? I want to do more of these things I wanted to do less of as you make choices about what your life what do you think about Betsy?
Betsy Cohen 30:20
I do. I you know, I think the reality and I have joked about this lovingly kind of that I, I wonder if it’ll be odd when Samuel goes to college, if he’s walking across the campus with mommy holding on to his leg, because I don’t look forward to the day that he leaves the house, but I’m very happy that he will be ready for it. And that’s all that matters. It will be when he leaves the house, I will have had somebody living a child of mine living in my house for over 33 years. And I start to give that a little bit of thought that possibilities are there for different things, and I’m not sure what those things will be. I’m enjoying happy Licious. I love what I’m doing. I love seeing, you know, I launched recently on Amazon that is growing. And I’m very excited for that possibility. I you know, have the goals of I want to get into other businesses that sell like a Harry and David’s where it’s a dropship. Or it is something along those lines or edibles.com. So I throw out there the things and sometimes the universe answers. Sometimes the universe’s really, I don’t know, you know, Oprah’s Favorite Things, get them to Oprah, that would be Keith Lee, that, Oh, my gosh, what he does for businesses. So I think of those things. I don’t get to get too far ahead of myself, because I really want to be very present for the short short period of time I have with Samuel left in the house.
Achim Nowak 32:14
I’m wondering as we’re speaking, and it’s great to hear with some some of the thoughts that float in your brain. What when we’re entrepreneurs or business owners, there’s a pressure to have financial goals sometimes imposed by other people, like, how much do you want to go revenue or much money you want to make? And it can almost be sacrilegious to not be aggressively growth motivated, which I am not I have done very well. I’m in my second business, but it’s it’s a lifestyle business. Right. Since we talked about money, do you think about money making money? I do. Do you? How important is it?
Betsy Cohen 32:50
It is important to me. You know, I’ve seen the business grow. It’s nice to see it growing on the positive side. Because there was the time it was definitely not. But absolutely, I have the goals. I want to double the revenue. I want to see it as a proper business. That I want to see that growth. take place. Yeah, and work towards having that. So that is important to me.
Achim Nowak 33:27
Well, that’s a powerful statement I for me in my own life. And I’ve been a business owner for 20 years now. But my thinking shifted when I stop thinking of myself as being self employed or doing gigs to know I have a business. Yes, my case I hire people work for me. And the moment I thought of myself as a business owner, it liberated so many things in me.
Betsy Cohen 33:54
Yes, absolutely. I think when you take that on as it’s mine, yeah, this is my business. And, you know, I, I tend to be fairly outgoing as a general rule. But it doesn’t mean inwardly. I’m always outgoing. So sometimes there the necessary pep talks on the drive to something where I knew walking into a room that I don’t know, a single person, and it’s the pep talk. You know, of course you should be here, and all of those things. And I think it’s important to empower ourselves. We help others which we absolutely need to, but at the same time we need to do that for ourselves. And that empowerment starts from within
Achim Nowak 34:50
that’s such a beautiful message to to wrap up our conversation with but before we leave, I can’t imagine people aren’t curious as all heck about whether can find happy lunches by Betsy. Where can people find you and your wonderful cookie dough?
Betsy Cohen 35:07
Thank you for asking that question. Happy Licious. If you’re in Palm Beach County, we are in Whole Foods in Palm Beach County, which I’m very proud of. We are in the breakers in Palm Beach, which is magnificent. And
Achim Nowak 35:20
add something for internationalist as the Breakers is a classic, historic, famous, extravagant old hotel with a lot of history in Palm Beach. And it’s pretty cool to be at the breakers. Let me just say that
Betsy Cohen 35:37
it is very cool to be at the breakers. I work I’m very proud to be a vendor with Palm Beach County Convention Center. And I was just certified as a women owned business with the Office of Equal Opportunity. Then, on happy licious.com We have cookie mixes as our 201 cookie mix as well as our jars of happiness, and Amazon. You can get the jars of happiness. And we offer their four packs on Amazon for the same flavor or we have variety packs as well. And always reach out if you have any questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m on social you can find me on the website with happy Licious by Betsy.
Achim Nowak 36:27
So if you live in Palm Beach County, you can go retail and pick it up in a store. If you live anywhere in the United States, you can order from happy licious.com Or you can go to Amazon, right so we can find you and get your product.
Betsy Cohen 36:41
And we can do custom labels across the country as well. So we are able to ship them across the country. No problem.
Achim Nowak 36:49
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for this conversation. I salute you and what you created. It’s fantastic, Betsy,
Betsy Cohen 36:58
thank you so much for this opportunity. It means a lot and I’m honored you asked me
Achim Nowak 37:03
bye for now. Like like what you heard, please go to my fourth act.com And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao