BY SISSY WICKES
“When you’re going through a difficult time – regardless of age, gender or status – there is nothing like the healing power of horses. They give everything and ask for little in return. The desire to show our gratitude and give back to our animals is the very foundation of Charleigh’s Cookies.” – Charleigh
Nothing is more fundamental to our souls than a child’s love for an animal. Nothing is more emotionally nourishing to us than a young girl kissing the muzzle of a pony. These are the wellsprings of the horse community, the most basic bond that ties us all. Take the experience of a parent and toddler mixing cookie batter, one of the first mutual works of creation in the kitchen. Combine, add vision, sweat, and commitment, and you have the recipe for Charleigh’s Cookies.
Cordelia Wolf took a casual compliment from her trainer on the quality of her homemade horse treats to heart and began to make the all-natural, delicious goodies for her own horses and fellow barn mates. A single mother, amateur rider, and mental and behavioral health professional, Cordelia is not one to go half way on anything. Soon, she was baking horse treats daily in order to fill requests from friends who then offered to buy them. Her entrepreneurial interest piqued, Cordelia decided to launch a business and Charleigh’s Cookies was born. Named after her then two-year old daughter, the company was formed as an ode to their shared love of horses and a nod to the business acumen of a young mother.
“I want to teach Charleigh about business and instill the idea of giving back to horses. We share a love for horses and understand how much they give to us every day. We love giving back to them,” Cordelia explains. Herself an adopted daughter of a single mother who is a high school teacher, Cordelia was always included in her mother’s work environment. “I was always with my mother and taken everywhere. She included me in her professional life and taught me the value of hard work.” In turn, she sees Charleigh’s Cookies as a way to instill the same values in her daughter, now eight years old. “I am very conscious of raising a child in this industry,” Cordelia states. “We are surrounded by a world of very expensive things and a lot of wealth. I want Charleigh to understand the value of money, structure, and responsibility.”
From baking the horse treats to the cost of ingredients to pricing and sales, Cordelia involves Charleigh in the process. The mother and daughter have fun with the project while endeavoring to grow the business into solid profitability. “Charleigh understands the concept of taxes, profit, and the cost of making cookies. She even thought of our latest flavor, ‘Minty Kisses.’ She is always listening and a forward thinker. I love her input,” Cordelia states with pride.
Charleigh’s Cookies are horse treats hand made from organic ingredients that are free of sugar, preservatives and non-nutritious additives. Their products include Southern Swag (made with organic Georgia peaches), Sweetheart Swag (with a dash of organic cinnamon), Minty Kisses, XOXO (hugs & kisses) Cover-Up Cookies, and the original Essential Swag (full-sized version and bite-sized). They can be ordered in any combination and on a monthly delivery rotation with a Club Charleigh membership.
The process of perfecting the treats and building the infrastructure of the business were arduous. Cordelia looks back,” I had no idea how much work starting a business was and how much I didn’t know. But, I was too stubborn to stop!” Facing the hardships and expenses of a start up small business, she went back to school and took a curriculum of business classes. Armed with education and inspiration, she went to work.
“I spent hours and hours perfecting the right mix and consistency of the batter,” Cordelia remembers. “It was a lot of trial and error and I went through a lot of Post-It’s!” Healthy ingredients and good flavor were essential to the treats as well as a feasible production and inventory schedule. Cordelia progressed from baking the treats in her home kitchen in San Rafael to renting a commercial kitchen in Petaluma, California. While the capacity of production has increased, she still does all of the baking herself. “I spend around fifteen hours per week baking. I can produce around 9000 cookies a day using very high standards of production and quality and a good system in place.” After cooling, the treats are packaged in re-usable plastic lid jars and have a shelf life of approximately one year.
Charleigh’s Cookies are primarily an online direct to consumer business (charleighscookies.com). The exception is selling the treats out of their vintage horse trailer at the Sonoma Horse Park where Charleigh’s Cookies is a horse show sponsor. Cordelia competes in the Adult Jumper and Charleigh in the Short Stirrup divisions. When not on their beloved horses, the pair can often be found selling treats from the trailer, Charleigh being an especially effective salesperson.
A one woman baker, marketer, business planner, and salesperson, Cordelia Wolf is a force. Determined to forge a successful business, she has enlisted the help of good professionals in her lawyer and accountant and is launching a vigorous marketing push. With its namesake integrally involved in the family business, Charleigh’s Cookies is the perfect mix of generational mentorship and holistic product. Buy healthy treats for your horses and support female entrepreneurship.
For Charleigh and Cordelia, the most important tenet of the business is, “Have you thanked your horse today?” As Cordelia explains with emotion, “Horses have saved my life during times when I did not know how I would survive. Sometimes a horse is your ‘person.’” The treats are emblematic of gratitude and devotion. Charleigh’s Cookies is a labor of horse love.
Call Charleigh’s Cookies at 855-SWAG-LUV or visit their website Charleighscookies.com. Sign up for Club Charleigh’s monthly subscription of treats delivered to your door at [email protected]
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist, an autism advocate and Editor of The Plaid Horse. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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