How a Cancer at a Young Age Turned into a Successful Cookie Business – Interview with Loren Brill

How a Cancer at a Young Age Turned into a Successful Cookie Business

Loren Brill is an amazing woman. After beating cancer at a young age, she built Sweet Loren’s a cookie company that only uses better-taste and better-for-you ingredients.

In the following interview she explains how cancer changed her perception of life. She shares her best tips and how she got so successful despite all her hardships.

Could you introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Loren Brill. I started Sweet Loren’s in 2011 after overcoming cancer at a young age. Right after graduating the University of Southern California, at 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was already a yoga instructor and interested in health/wellness, but during my year of treatment in 2007, I started studying nutrition and saw how my body only wanted to eat as real, whole, unprocessed foods as possible. Thankfully, fully recovered and healthier than ever, I started to look at food differently, searching for ways to satisfy my sweet tooth with delicious, wholesome ingredients that I felt good about eating. When I couldn’t find any in the marketplace, I started to make my own. I entered a baking contest in 2010, and won, and that is when I knew I was supposed to start Sweet Loren’s. Whole Foods was my first customer, and a month after launching I won a contest called The Next Big Small Brand for Culinary Genius. We got national press, and from there Sweet Loren’s started to grow.

Could you talk about Sweet Loren’s?

Sweet Loren’s is now an award-winning cookie dough company in convenient place&bake packaging, perfect for the busy household looking for an indulgent, easy-to-make, clean-ingredient snack or dessert! It’s taken a lot of hustle to find the right factory; right recipes; right packaging; and right retailers, but we are now gaining major national traction and consumers are finally asking for better-for-you products on a mass level. That wasn’t the case as much when I launched four years ago. Sweet Loren’s cookies are non-dairy, 100% whole grain, with no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or artificial flavors, and are OUD Kosher. Currently in 3 flavors: Chocolate Chunk, Oatmeal Cranberry, and Peanut Butter Chocolate — with a delicious Gluten Free Chocolate Chip launching this year.

Sweet Loren's cookie

You can bake 1 or all 12 cookies at a time – even in a toaster oven. We also offer food service for cafeterias, like Goldman Sachs, or movie theaters, restaurants, etc. Let us know what other products you are looking for! We want to know as we grow that we are solving your problems. 

How did you get so successful despite all your hardships?

The gold is in the dirt. I really believe that it’s when you get tested that the real you comes out. You can either feel weak and lose faith in the world — or you can get empowered and become stronger. Don’t mess with a survivor! Getting sick made me realize how we as humans are not invincible, and how special, precious life really is. It’s a gift that isn’t guaranteed – and it’s your responsibility to take care of it. When you start to look at life that way, I wanted to celebrate life all of the time; spread happiness; have no regrets; treat my body really well; and enjoy every bite of food I take. I also feel as though I was meant to do this. That conviction to start this company – that it’s the only thing I want to do with my life, that I see the future of it – is such a strong feeling that that guided me through all of the ups and downs, and crazy hurdles you have to go over to start something from nothing. Lots of learning along the way. I think I’ve always stayed true to my vision; listened to what customers wanted; try to be one step ahead of anyone else; build great relationships with buyers and retailers; and find the best team — your employees, investors, and advisors.

How did you get started?

I met with Whole Foods with a plate of freshly baked cookies, and the next day they put in an order for frozen cookie dough. I was like “OMG, we are in business.” So, as a one woman show, I knew I didn’t want to be in the production of it so I found a small factory in upstate NY to start producing it for me. I learned how to scale a recipe; how to go from my home kitchen to a professional machinery. Then, based on consumer research and sampling, we learned that customers loved portion control; what kind of packaging they were drawn to; and so I switched to another factory that could do different types of packaging for my cookie dough. After more learning that the largest opportunity was in refrigerated (not frozen) packaging, this year we switched packaging and launched in new, exciting place&bake pink packaging which means you can make as many cookies as you’d like at a time. Also, we can now be distributed in almost any retailer and really compete to build the next brand name in cookie dough.

How did you grow your business?

I am a cookie dough hustler. I stuck with it, and build a strong community around me to support me. I told my story to anyone and everyone. I gave out a lot of cookies. I followed my gut. I loved our recipes and focused on building a brand that if I was a mom, would love and buy if I found it in my local supermarket. I read, learned from my mistakes, and kept going with a determination no one could sway. I cried, lots. And smiled, lots. I kept going.

What does it take to be successful in your opinion?

You have to really connect and love what you are doing — seeing something that no one else really does. And then create a smart plan to execute its growth to meet your goals. You need to have a plan and figure out what the end goal is; and then follow the steps to get there. No one can tell you what that is, and how can you be happy with it, if you don’t have a goal to reach for.

What are your favorite resources and tools?

I love inspiring podcasts and books, like The Four Hour Work Week or From Good to Great. I love dropbox and smart phones so that I can get work done wherever I am in the world. I love entrepreneur groups like EO that also does accelerator groups to help connect you to mentors.

Anything you’d like to add?

Do something that makes the world a happier, smarter, better place. Enjoy every day. Life is precious, and you are capable of becoming the person you dream of being with {lots of} hard work. Don’t be intimidated or fearful, be motivated and passionate. AND, if I could, please ask your local supermarket to carry us if they don’t already! Help us build a community that supports food that cares about delicious taste, and wholesome ingredients so that we can make sure that the next generation grows up on food we feel good about eating.

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