Meet Kristi Johnson of Stuffed AF Cookies
I’m a native of Arizona, born and raised in the valley. I had a incredible career as a Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer (Trooper) for 25 years. Although my career was in law enforcement my true passion was baking. When I retired in 2016 I attempted to be retired but after a year I realized I was still too young to live the retired life. I went back to work in the law enforcement field and then into a private security position.
In the beginning of 2020 I decided it was time for me to move forward with my dream of baking for more than just family and squad mates. It was time for me to jump into entrepreneurship with both feet. After talking to my family about it and making sure I had their support I started the process of starting what is now Stuffed AF Cookies.
I purchased an e-book on starting a small business “Hustle Smarter” from a friend of mine. That little nugget of information really helped me with the stuff I didn’t think about; the LLC, the business name, the licenses… So many things I didn’t think of when I decided I wanted to start a at home business baking cookies.
I knew I wanted to have a website but where to start? I was definitely a fish out of water in the realm of branding, logo and website. I reached out for suggestions and was turned on to Tiny Fox Creative, graphic designer. That entire process was my favorite part of starting my business. Being educated on how my brand and logo speaks my products language was fascinating. I couldn’t be more pleased with the final product. It’s 100% me!
Fast forward a few months and lots of learning along the way, here I am taking orders for my cookies.
I wasn’t sure how everything worked with starting a small, at home business but as with anything new there are stumbling blocks. There wasn’t anything I would consider a struggle, they were more lessons learned. I’m so lucky to have the support system around me to keep me grounded.
I spent a lot of time and money on fine tuning my recipes. They’ve always been loved by my family and friends but understanding I will be offering these cookies to the masses I wanted to make sure they appealed to such. I had many tastings at the local gyms and small businesses owned by friends. I would take all the feedback I received and make any changes suggested then offer another tasting. Like I said, this wasn’t a struggle but definitely an expensive step to my final product.
I currently have a full time job and with my commute I’m gone at least 50 hours a week. This means I’m up late or up extra early making sure I have the cookies made to fill the orders coming in. Luckily I love baking!
I launched my business on March 20th, 2020. This launch date had been planned since mid January. As we all know the COVID19 virus struck the world with a vengeance around the same time. Tiny Fox Creative had worked so hard on making everything perfect I couldn’t postpone it. It wouldn’t have been fair to them. I went ahead with the launch and it was very well recieved. I think people in general wanted some normal, wanted some happy. Cookies make people happy!
My business is an online, at home cookie baking business. I specialize in making large (6 ounces +) stuffed AF cookies. I think I’m known for the size of the cookies and the flavors and combinations of flavors. I will never make a traditional cookie. I’ll leave those to other bakers to sell.
I’m also known for the names and meaning of the cookies, often referred to as the “girls” or “ladies”. My three siblings and I were raised by a single mother. All four of us made our careers in law enforcement. My mother is the strongest, bravest most inspirational person I know. I wanted to make my company a tribute to her and all other strong, brave, funny, fierce women I know, have known or will meet someday. I try to celebrate women in every decision I make in the company.
I’m most proud of my celebration of strong women. I’m the person I am today because of them. I’m a very lucky woman! Don’t get me wrong, I have the upmost appreciation for the amazing men in my life as well; hubby, son and brother to name a few.
I’m also very proud of what I’m able to do in the community right now during these very uncertain and scary times surrounding the COVID19 pandemic. Because I’m lucky enough to still have a job with a steady paycheck I’m able to put my small business in a helping mode rather than a profit mode. I get orders from many wanting cookies for birthday parties and other events that have been cancelled or postponed. These little(big) gems of happiness get delivered to their door or mailed to them to abide by the social distancing rule so business is still going. The money I make from these orders and much of my own get turned around and put into cookies care packages for the front line heroes.
I get them to the hospitals, fire departments, post offices, and grocery stores in the valley to put in their break rooms fro the hard working teams to enjoy. I’ve made “Thank You” cookies to give to the truck driver unloading at any number of stores. I’ve left a goodie bag of cookies out for the Fed Ex, UPS or Amazon delivery driver when I know a package is getting deliver, which is happening A LOT!
My mother, who I mentioned earlier is 90 years old and in an assisted living facility. I make sure they have a “Thank You” batch of cookies often to thank them for taking care of our most vulnerable. I can’t physically see my mom to hug her but I can make sure she’s getting a cookie from the business she inspired.
I’m also a HUGE supporter of first responders. With my career being what it was I’m proud to advertise my support. I have a special cookie called “Thin Blue Line”. It’s made with bacon and stuffed with a donut. That definitely sets me apart…lol.
In my prior career success was bringing a case to close or helping someone in need. Eventually making it to retirement was a big marker of success for me… I did it!
In my small business my definition of success isn’t money, it’s how I make people feel. Success for me has always been by a positive emotion. I’ve been told recently a cookie I made brought back a wonderful memory of her and her grandfather. That is success!
On the business side of it I will feel successful when I set up a booth at a food fair or outdoor festival and people seek out Stuffed AF Cookies 🙂