Interview with Abbey Greenberg and Margie Greenberg of The Flour Pot
Tell us about your company, it’s purpose, mission, target audience, goals, what makes it unique.
The Flour Pot is a custom decorative cookie company. We specialize in custom party favors and cookie gift boxes for special occasions. Our company is different from other cookie companies because we work with our customers to create a custom cookie that matches their theme, event, or personal taste. Margie has twenty years of experience in the party planning industry so she understands the importance details. Our customers range from companies such as Arm and Hammer, GE, Spanx, and Marriott Hotels ordering thousands of cookies to a woman in California planning a bridal shower for 30 people. And that’s one of the great things about The Flour Pot—our minimum is 12 pieces. And we do not charge design fees. So the woman in California gets as much attention as a company ordering for a product launch or a trade show.
How did you come to work together in the first place?
Throughout my years in college, my mom (Margie) was taking cake decorating classes in New York and coming home and applying the techniques to cookies. She would take the cookies to friends and send them to me at school. I graduated with a degree in American Studies from Emory University in 2003. I started working at a small vegan cookie company run by a husband and wife. I was hired for marketing. About two weeks in, my older brother said to me “you’re working for another cookie company while Mom is making these amazing cookies at home—you have to sell HER cookies!!!” I looked at my mom and said “do you want to work full time?” and she looked at me and said “do you want to work with me?” We both said yes and that was the beginning! We got our first job from a family friend and we made the cookies out of the house. From there-a guest at that party ordered cookies, and we knew we’d have to move to a commercial space.
Please describe your respective roles in the company.
I handle the marketing for the company. Margie handles all the initial production design work.
How has working together affected your relationship outside the “office.” In other words how do you keep family matters separate from work related issues?
I can’t imagine not working with my mom. We spend so much time together in the office and out of the office. To be honest—we don’t separate our family matters from work matters. In the car on the way to a family event, we’ll talk about a new product or idea, for us it’s who we are—it’s what we love. My father and my brother work together in a family business as well. So it’s very natural for us all to offer advice or suggestions-we’re a family and a business support group!
A quick story: December is our busiest time of the year. We work long hours seven days a week. My boyfriend was planning on proposing at the end of the month on our 3 year anniversary. He asked my parent’s permission in early December. My mom and I share everything. She said it killed her to have to keep this huge secret from me for so long. So I was running an errand one day and she told the entire kitchen staff. Just a sample of family matters and work matters being one in the same!
What are some of the challenges you have faced working together?
For me, it took some time to adjust to the way my mom works. She is the most creative person I know—and creative people aren’t always the most organized! I like systems and forms—and my mom never writes in the right spot on the form. I’ve learned to just adapt to the way she works. And at the end of the day we send out a beautiful product—so can I really complain!!! My mom would probably say that I worry too much about forms and systems.
Wow-we’ve been so lucky. We’ve been featured on the Food Network—which was great for our online business. And after that we were approached by Running Press publishers to write a cookbook. It was such a success that it went into a second printing. We just finished the manuscript for our second book (holiday cookies) which will be out in Fall ’09. Our gift boxes were voted “Best of Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine and we have countless wonderful customers that can choose from a million gift companies but they choose us.
What do you like best about working together? Least?
As I’m writing this, my mom says that working together brings her the greatest pleasure. She says “can you imagine seeing your daughter walk in the door every day? Not many people are that lucky.” I have to agree. I can’t imagine not sitting in the office we share with our desks next to each other.
I would say that working together has made family vacations less exciting! Sometimes you really need a break from work.
What, if any big challenges or little annoyances have occured as a result of working together and how have you managed to overcome them?
Margie says that one of the challenges for her has been learning to look at me at treat me like a business partner versus her child.
What tips would you share with our readers for working with a member of the family?
Working with a family member is all about trust and removing your ego. Margie says “just because you’re the mom doesn’t mean you know best.” Trust and respect each other’s decisions. New generations think about things differently and can open up avenues of business that may not have occurred to an older generation. Respect on both ends is key.
What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of working together (eg. unexpected publicity, obtaining an unexpected client/customer, an emotional moment, etc)?
What’s next for this mother daughter team?
We’re really excited about our holiday cookie book coming out. We’re also venturing into holiday cookie cards based on cookies from our book. We’ve just introduced a line of “Will you be my bridesmaid” cookie gifts that have taken off. And our logo cookies are also a great seller for us.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s a wonderful adventure my mom and I share together. I can’t believe I can make a living doing this!
Learn more about the Flour Pot at www.flourpotcookies.com
This article can be read in the Spring/Summer 2009 Issue of WE Magazine for Women