We spoke with Eden Hertzog, the cookie mogul, boss lady, baker babe at New Moon Kitchen. She makes delicious, all natural, nut, peanut, egg, and dairy free, kosher, vegan and delicious cookies and granola. We found out why her baked goods stand out on a crowded store shelf, how social media has changed this bakery business, and how many is too many healthy cookies.
How can you get anything done when it smells of freshly baked cookies all day?
I’ve made a deal with the cookies: I always eat a couple when I’m at work, and that way they leave me alone. I’ve also become somewhat immune to the smell of cookies baking at work, which is a sort of sad state of affairs.
You post the sweetest pictures of your kids at work with you. How do you manage being an entrepreneur, a mother of small children, and a wife?
I am learning that the key to these things cohabiting (somewhat) peacefully is not putting them in different compartments. Since having my first child over four years ago, I have battled with myself a lot. Eden the Businesswoman and Eden the Mom were not getting along. When I was with my kids I would think about work, and when I was at work I would feel bad that I wasn’t with my kids. In giving myself more space to treat my life as a whole, with less sharp edges and rules, things have settled down a lot. With the personal battle out of the way, I can actually start being more present with my kids, and get more done at work.
My kids come first, and I don’t see that changing for awhile. I work four days a week and still pick my son up from school at 3:15. How does the business thrive without me being a constant presence? I have an amazing team and a highly organized business. Me, on the other hand, I am still the wild card. Did I mention that all of this is still a big sweet mess? I don’t want anyone to think my life is manicured. At all.
Is it difficult to create a retail-friendly, shelf stable product without using any preservatives?
Yes and no. No because it is what we have done, and yes because we hit a wall when distributors or retailers say they want at least six months on a product, or that they want it frozen. If anything were to compromise our quality, I wouldn’t do it. If I can extend our shelf life or freeze the product, and it still be awesome, then I am all for it. We’re always working on this aspect, but right now we have three months on all of our products.
Do you consider your treats junk food?
Nope. I consider junk food to be stuff that is ultra-refined, full of preservatives, with no nutritionally redeeming qualities, and our cookies are really far from that. However, if a person sits down and eats twenty-five cookies in one sitting, then we can say they are “junking-up” the cookies and should probably slow it down… Sorry if I just outed a bunch of people.
Do you consider them health food?
I consider them a healthy cookie. What is health food? Is it raw kale and sprouted buckwheat for every meal, or is it food that makes your body sing? We aim to make products that make you feel good when you eat them, and somehow, miraculously, our cookies do this. When you compare our cookies with conventional cookies, the sugar content is strikingly lower, I think this is the main differentiation.
I am a firm believer in moderation and balance. My grandmother is 96, in great health, and has never touched “health food” in her life. She eats simple, whole foods, and some form of a treat everyday with her afternoon tea. I might be off topic, but I really think being too radical and obsessive about what you eat, no matter what it is, is more unhealthy than eating crap.
Do you know any of the farmers your ingredients come from?
We don’t know who actually grows the spelt for our flour, but we have a lovely relationship with the mill that grinds it for us. Now you’ve inspired me to find out more… (How wonderful! You’ll have to update us. We love getting to know the farmers who grow our food.)
The cookie shelves are getting crowded. What do you do to stand out?
I don’t get caught up in how crowded the shelves are getting, that’s my tactic : ) We have never followed food fads or made things to compete with others. We have always made delicious, wholesome products and will always do that, regardless of how many food and diet fads surface. I think the key for us standing out is staying true to who we are, and never budging on our quality. I also think marketing is key here; if people have a sense of New Moon and what we’re about, and we make it fun and appealing, then we have a greater chance of being the cookie that gets picked. The quality is what will bring people back for more.
Do you get fan emails? (people love cookies!)
Oh, we do, and they are the best. I love hearing from people who say they hadn’t found a decent cookie that they could eat in years, and when trying our stuff they were so happy. I also love hearing from parents of kids with allergies (nut/dairy/egg) who are so relieved to find a quality product that their kids love, and that can be taken to school with them.
Being a manufacturer, without a retail location, means that I don’t have direct contact with my customers, so hearing from them is so rewarding – it reminds me why we do what we do.
What change has social media brought to your business?
Social media is amazing because it is giving us a voice. That’s the cool thing about it, we get to decide who we are and share it with our followers, and there is endless room for creativity. Social media is, for the most part, fun. It’s people sharing cool stuff and telling their stories through images and words. We’re just starting to get into it, and I can see the potential for reaching our “people”, and spreading the good cookie word in a great way.
Your favourite cookie to eat and why?
I really love our Momint cookies fresh from the oven. The hit of peppermint and chocolate, and crisp edges with a warm centre is pretty much perfection.
Chocolate Chips or Raisins?
Chocolate Chips! Come on… (Of course, what were we thinking?)
Crunchy or Chewy?
It really depends on the cookie flavour! A cookie that achieves both is perfect to me, that way you can have the best of both worlds. We have this joke at the bakery about our chocolate chip cookies – whenever we burn a rack we all get excited because everyone loves them super crispy.
Spelt or Gluten-free?
I love spelt. Love love love it. It is the perfect flour for cookies.
For more information visit newmoonkitchen.com. Tweet with Eden at @NewMoonKitchen, and Like her cookies on Facebook too!