Craig’s Cookies has designed a rabid admirer base in Toronto. Buyers salivate over the Instagram-worthy ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies studded with tasty increase-ins like Oreos and Mars Bars. Storefronts are often decked out in colors of Pleasure flags to signal everybody is welcome inside of and cookies are served in pink cardboard bins sealed with a rainbow sticker. On fast paced evenings, there are typically lineups of buyers outside the doorway, anxiously ready for a freshly baked handle. But if founder Craig Pike hadn’t pivoted from his job as an actor, his company may have stayed a aspect hustle.
Pike experienced risen late on a Sunday early morning in 2015, when he acquired a call from a friend asking if he’d make four dozen chocolate chip cookies—his potluck specialty—for a party later on that evening. The last thing Pike required to do was bake (his kitchen wasn’t even stocked with flour or chocolate chips), but he trekked to the grocery retail store and put in the afternoon hunched in excess of the smaller oven in his Parkdale a person-bedroom apartment. Pike experienced been building cookies mostly as a pastime, occasionally selling them on Fb or at neighborhood markets, and they ended up comprehensively liked by his pals. Serendipitously, an editor from enRoute magazine, Air Canada’s publication, attended the occasion and was so impressed by Pike’s vibrant confections, he made a decision to function them in the magazine.
“I recall hoping to make it seem like I was working a authentic business, meanwhile it was just me baking cookies in my condominium,” Pike suggests. Pike, an actor and musician, had moved from St. John’s to Toronto in 2004 to review theatre at George Brown School. Following graduating, he apprenticed at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Pageant, launched an a capella team, That Choir, and was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award, the Canadian equivalent of a Tony.
Irrespective of his inventive recognition, Pike experienced troubles paying out the bills. “I was doing the job 40 to 45 weeks of the yr, but there were still those further months I had to fill with one thing,” he states. In 2013, when Pike was in-involving gigs and desired dollars, he posted on Fb offering a dozen of handmade chocolate chip cookies for $8, shipped straight to customers’ doors on his bike. Within just two months, Pike experienced offered 200 dozen cookies. He ongoing marketing his confections on social media and at community activities, like the Parkdale Flea Market—but the enRoute feature was his significant break. That media coverage led to a pop-up shop at the Williams Sonoma retailer in Yorkdale Mall. By 2018, Pike had created enough dollars from marketing cookies to pay for first and very last month’s rent on a 26-sq. metre retail area in Parkdale. Craig’s Cookies took off soon after a function in BlogTO. “I experienced to seek the services of eight workforce right away,” he suggests.
At the start out, the most pleasant element of the business was not the baking—Pike would rise at just one in the morning, sleeping in nine-moment nap intervals so he could bake adequate cookies to meet up with demand—it was connecting with consumers. “I just adore men and women,” he claims. “What I liked about cookies was providing them all-around the town and obtaining conversations with everyone getting the product.”
Pike’s actor mentality contributed in direction of the swift growth of Craig’s Cookies. Mainly because he was employed to getting employed on 6- to eight-week contracts for productions, he was generally imagining about what is next—what would his subsequent project be? That considering, paired with the accomplishment of his first bricks-and-mortar shop, motivated him to develop: In October 2019, he opened his next retail place, on Church Avenue a shop in Bayview Village opened in Oct 2020 Leslieville in April 2021 and Yorkdale Mall in November 2021. Just lately, the Craig’s Cookies empire extended all the way out to his hometown in Newfoundland. “As a child I was afraid to be myself as a queer man or woman, so the ability to go again house with a productive enterprise which is queer-owned—and be respected for it—means the planet to me.”
To this day, Pike describes himself as an actor and musician initially, a single who just so transpires to also run a incredibly successful cookie organization. Subsequent on the horizon, he designs to refocus on art—not as an actor but as the founder of an arts firm. In May perhaps, he introduced That Arts Team, an umbrella group for That Choir and a new theatre corporation. He also designs to use his cookie bounty to give back, funding a new functions improvement method for BIPOC theatre creators throughout the nation that will launch in September.
Though Pike is no doubt satisfied about his success in the dessert earth, one of the most gratifying facets of what he does will involve giving back to the LGBTQ+ neighborhood. He recounts a recent occupation interview in which he requested the prospect why they needed to perform at Craig’s Cookies. They answered it was since his enterprise has a reputation as currently being a welcoming room for customers of the LGBTQ+ local community. “If I under no circumstances offer a further cookie for the rest of my lifetime, but I have been equipped to make a secure area for individuals to operate, then it is worthy of it.”