These half-pound cookies are a TikTok sensation and they're made here in London
The Cookie Place has gone TikTok viral garnering orders from coast to coast
What started as a pandemic hobby has become a successful, full-blown business offering gooey, decadent, half-pound cookies to Canadians from coast to coast.
Salena Halbouni, 24, never expected her life to take this direction. She was just finishing up her International Relations master's degree when the pandemic hit, and like many, she took up baking just for fun.
"It wasn't supposed to be a business plan," said Halbouni, the owner and director of The Cookie Place.
"I knew my husband loved cookies, and I just wanted to make him a super crazy, decadent cookie. I kept experimenting and changing recipes, until I found one that I really I loved ... and he went crazy over it," she said. "We said, 'If it's this good of a cookie, we're sure family and friends are going to love them.'"
Fast forward 18 months later and The Cookie Place operates an e-commerce and a brick-and-mortar shop out of London, Ont., employing more than a dozen people and selling up to a thousand cookies a day across the country.
The company specializes in unique, hand-crafted, half-pound cookies that are all individually stuffed with a variety of fillings from homemade Dunkaroos frosting, to your favourite chocolaty spread, all to ensure and explosion of flavours in each and every bite.
"These aren't your average cookies," Halbouni said.
"You can't even compare it to what you think a cookie is. They literally weigh half of a pound and are a twist on the traditional dish. It's more of a cakey, doughy cookie, with a unique filling and decorated on top."
But besides the rich chocolate and creative flavour pairings, it's actually social media that has become the key ingredient in their success.
A TikTok sensation
Halbouni said that her sister and now business partner, Karima, 23, asked if she could make a TikTok video to showcase the decadent cookies and pitched her the idea that the social media platform could elevate her business.
Gradually, with cool videos and good customer service, Halbouni said, the likes, the comments and the follower count started to grow. Now, their account has garnered more than 94,000 followers, and it's what has sparked interest in their cookies from people as far as British Columbia and Nunavut.
"Food TikTok is crazy," Halbouni said, admitting that when her sister had the idea, she didn't even have an account on the platform.
"People like to see videos of you taking a bite out of the cookie or showing you what's stuffed inside ... and it's awesome when people come in to our storefront and are super excited and say, 'I found you guys on TikTok.' It's truly been a blessing.
"Word of mouth isn't really sufficient at this point. Everyone uses social media and being able to navigate it and in utilizing it to our benefit has been super helpful and a blessing."
While The Cookie Place has come a long way since baking a few dozen cookies in Halbouni's kitchen, she said starting a business in a field she didn't know much about wasn't something she did without hesitation or fear.
"We didn't really know how it would work in the London market, especially during the pandemic seeing a lot of businesses close down. I was very nervous and it was intimidating," she said.
"But, I would tell anyone looking to start their own business, that there's a risk in almost anything entrepreneurial, but there comes a point where you have to take that leap of faith and believe in your product and try your best."