BY GABE HERMAN | A Lower East Side resident is starting a cookie company from scratch and trying to stand out from the competition with some uniquely flavored cookies that are truly homemade.
Kerianne Cotray, 29, lives on Water Street and uses her apartment as her cookie headquarters, doing all the baking, wrapping and shipping from there. She named her company baKD – using the initials of her maiden name Kerianne DeSantis – and just shipped out her first orders on Sept. 8.
The cookies are not only homemade — Cotray bakes four at a time on trays in her kitchen — but they’re also big, weighing around 6 ounces each. Cotray said that turned out to be the maximum size before they started falling apart.
Flavors include The Lunch Box, with a peanut butter cookie base mixed with peanut butter chips and a strawberry jam filling; The Sandlot, with a Graham cookie base with chocolate chips and vanilla fluff filling, topped with marshmallows and chocolate; a classic chocolate chip cookie called The Chunk that includes walnuts; and It Takes Two, with a dark chocolate cookie base with sea salt and chocolate chips.
The hefty cookies go for $5 each.
Cotray’s business is so grassroots that she doesn’t even have a website, instead posting information and taking orders through an Instagram account, @bakd.bakery.
“I really like it even though it’s a lot of manual labor,” Cotray said of her budding business. “I like the chemistry of it, the experimentation of it. I just like it.”
Cotray also recently got into bodybuilding, and entered a competition that ended in early May of this year. Afterward, she went on vacation and learned that she’d been laid off from her job in the tech industry.
She then decided to do something that she really wanted, and that turned out to be cookie-making. It happened to coincide with her craving for cookies after not being able to indulge while training for the competition.
A further push came from her trainer, who tasted a cookie and told Cotray that she needed to start selling them.
“Few things can be exhausting and you still feel good about,” Cotray said. “For me, it’s this and working out.”
Her husband Jason designed the company’s logo, and helps with packaging. The learning curve for starting a new company included figuring out how to ship the cookies and keep them intact.
Cotray figured out to use thin foam pads and tissue paper to make them fit securely in the boxes. She can currently only ship within New York State until she gets a commercial license to sell elsewhere.
Cotray takes orders through Instagram and then bakes and ships the cookies within a few days. On her first day of taking orders, she got about 115 cookie requests, which is 60 percent of capacity right now.
She had a stand at the Hester Street Fair on Sept. 14, which Cotray said was a big success. She got great reviews, including from some food influencers who have tasted their fair share of cookies.
“A lot of customers said ‘Wow! Those are cookies!? I’ve never seen a cookie like that!’” Cotray said.
Before the fair, she worked 12 hours on Thursday and 16 hours on Friday to prep all the cookies. “So you can say they are made with a ton of love and effort,” she noted.
Cotray will be back at the Hester Street Fair, at 25 Essex St., on Sept. 28 and Oct. 26. She doesn’t have plans for a brick and mortar shop, instead hoping her cookies will eventually be available for sale at other stores, and without her brand getting too big.
“There’s something good about a smaller business because the quality tends to be better,” she said.
Cotray said she feels good about taking the risk of starting a business. “At the end of the day,” she said, “if it fails I still took a chance and did it, and I think that’s pretty cool.”