When Emmy’s Organics started out in 2009, co-founders Ian Gaffney and Samantha Abrams were making cookies— formerly called macaroons — in Gaffney’s mother’s kitchen and selling them at the Ithaca Farmers Market and Greenstar.
Today, people enjoy their coconut cookies across the U.S. and in the UK and Mexico.
They make several types of coconut cookies that are organic, gluten free, non-GMO and vegan including chocolate chip, dark cacao, lemon ginger, raspberry, vanilla bean and their newest flavor, peanut butter.
Though they’ve continued to grow, the company remains rooted in Ithaca with their headquarters at 629 W. Buffalo St. in Ithaca. Their company is a certified B Corporation.
Recently, Emmy’s Organics announced its dark cacao and vanilla bean cookies will be sold in 7,500 Starbucks across the country.
In 2015, The Ithaca Voice spoke with Gaffney and Abrams about their business’s “meteoric growth.” This week, reporter Kelsey O’Connor asked Abrams a few questions to see how business is going, and also find out what the deal is with macaroons versus cookies.
KO: Since you and Ian started Emmy’s Organics in 2009, what have been some of the biggest highlights of operating this healthy macaroon/cookie business? And on the other side, what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?
SA: Oh man, we have had so many highlights and challenges along the way. Some stand out highlights would include getting into some of our favorite retailers such as Whole Foods, Wegmans and now Starbucks. Our successful crowdfunding campaign in 2010 that allowed us to re-design our packaging was also a huge highlight. When we changed our packaging our sales drastically increased and that was very exciting! Challenges have been all over the place! Machine failures, HR issues, running out of money, not being able to deliver orders on time…you name it ;-).
KO: So your cookies definitely used to be called macaroons, right? I notice all the labels now say coconut cookies. Why the change? (Unless I’m crazy and they’ve been like that the whole time.)
SA: You are totally right! We changed the name Macaroons to Coconut Cookies late last year. We did this because over the years, we had always gotten the question “what’s a macaroon?” from a variety of people. Our answer? “It’s a coconut cookie!” We also found that people who did know what a macaroon was didn’t all have the same view…maybe they thought they were a french macaron or more of a passover macaroon. Lastly, as our company grows, we are excited about offering a much healthier cookie option, next to the regular cookies on the shelf and we feel this name change will position our product for that.
KO: That last time wrote a story about Emmy’s Organics was in May 2015. You gave us some numbers like the company has grown its revenue 40 to 50 percent per year, and that Emmy’s Organics employed 10 people. Where do those numbers stand now?
SA: That is actually still the case! We have managed to keep growing at that same rate and employ the same amount of people in house. We do, however, now work with both a VP of Sales and part time CFO who work remotely.
KO: Do you still operate completely in Ithaca?
SA: We have our HQ and manufacturing in Ithaca and now have an additional manufacturing partner who helps us with manufacturing that we can’t handle in house.
KO: How widely distributed are your cookies?
SA: Nationwide in the US and we also work with a distributor in both the UK and Mexico!
KO: I saw your recent announcement that some of your cookies will be sold in over 7,500 Starbucks nationwide. Did they approach you, or how did that come to be?
SA: We met a buyer from Starbucks at a tradeshow and eventually did a regional test with them last year. The test performed well enough that they wanted us to put us in their stores nationwide! It’s truly a dream come true.
KO: Do you have anything new or exciting planned for the future for Emmy’s Organics?
SA: Yes! We are in the midst of developing two new product lines that we are really excited about! (Details are secret for now, Abrams said.)
Learn more about Emmy’s Organics at www.emmysorganics.com.
Featured image by Allison Usavage, provided by Emmy’s Organics.