Family and Healthy Treats with Sue Kakuk of Kakookies
This Women’s History Month, we sat down with Sue Kakuk, Owner and Founder of Kakookies, to talk about her family, starting a Woman-owned business, and her biggest inspirations. Don’t forget to check out our Women-owned businesses snack box!
To start us off, can you provide some insight into what Kakookies are and why they’re healthy and delicious?
Kakookies are delicious grab-n-go cookies made with real food ingredients and plant-based protein, providing the nutrition of an energy bar along with the deliciousness of a cookie, making them a convenient On-the-Go breakfast and energy snack for travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and busy families. All Kakookies are certified gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free. Our Better For You cookies are made with functional ingredients and antioxidant-rich fruits, delivering the perfect balance between great taste and great for you!
I know it’s probably hard to play favorites, but if you had to pick one Kakookie, which do you choose?
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be my “firstborn” ~ Almond Cranberry~ developed as a “breakfast cookie.” It is the perfect balance of almonds, oats, cranberries, with a touch of coconut and chocolate. I enjoy it most with a cup of coffee in the morning!
What inspired the start of Kakookies, and why is it so important to you?
When I discovered my daughter and her collegiate cycling teammates were stopping at fast-food for breakfast, I didn’t think that was the best way to fuel their bodies and start the day. We all lead busy lifestyles, so my goal was to create a cookie with simple ingredients that offered better nutrition and healthier calories, not empty ones. Baking and sending cookies was comforting to me, and besides, who doesn’t like to receive and eat cookies?
You weren’t a stranger to baking before this adventure, as a 2x Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalist. Where does your passion for baking stem from, and how has that helped make Kakookies a reality?
I have a design background, but the kitchen is my happy place. I love the challenge of re-crafting my favorite foods to be healthier while improving the taste and texture experience. I wasn’t convinced the gluten-free flour mixes and manufactured vegan butter or egg replacements were a better option or met my criteria of better for you, so Kakookies was born.
So, you first made cookies for your daughter’s collegiate cycling team (which is awesome, by the way), but your experience with cyclists and athletes didn’t stop there. Can you tell us more about that?
While the initial intent was to create a portable snack (not another over-processed energy bar) that would satisfy hunger and sustain energy for athletes, we soon discovered there was a larger market as a grab n go cookie for anyone seeking Better For You options.
Our individually packaged Kakookies are convenient for breakfast meetings, box lunches, office or afterschool snacks, and special diet requests because all our cookies are gluten-free and vegan. And now, with work from home and virtual meetings, Kakookies are a great addition to Work From Home and team meeting snack boxes.
What’s one piece of advice you’ve received that had the most impact on you and how you run Kakookies?
Listen. Just be a great listener. Listen to everyone’s advice respectfully and follow the advice that is appropriate for you or your business.
As a Woman-Owned business and a supporter of local small businesses, what advice do you have for other women wanting to enter the industry or start a business of their own?
Know what motivates you, do the things you’re personally good at and rely on others to do everything else. If you start with a strong foundation, it is easy to build on it. For example, one of the first things I did was hire an accounting firm. That isn’t my strength, and I knew they could do it quicker and more accurately than I could.
Starting off right from day one was the first step in our business foundation. From there, build a good network of resourceful, supportive women, and collaborate whenever you can.
It’s Women’s History Month – who are some of the women who have inspired you, in both business and in life?
I had a wonderful childhood with fond memories of just being in the kitchen with my grandmothers and mother.
They were most patient and created a happy kitchen environment for me. On the business side, I am so blessed to know and work with Sue Zelickson. She is a James Beard award winner and founder of Women Who Really Cook (an MN-based networking organization for women in the food industry). Sue Z is genuine and generous. She gives her time, talent, and her philanthropy is inspirational. She is a great advisor, mentor, and I am proud to be her friend.
Anything else you want to mention?
Yes! Check out our website and read our customer reviews!
These are a delicious snack that I look forward to every day! Love that they are something I don’t have to feel guilty about eating, taste awesome and is a quick boost when I need it.