CoTM September 2019 - Black & Gold/ Also, we're 5

It’s our fifth birthday.

So, this month’s cookie of the month is in celebration of our birthday month and every September we send out the cookie that started it all: Black & Gold cookies.

There’s a lot to find about our story, but the quick version is. I’m a very superstitious Boston Bruins season ticket holder and I would bring this cookie to The Fours before everygame to share with their staff and some friends. The superstition grew so much that I went from bring 16 cookies a game to closer to 72 by the time the Bruins played in Game 7 in Vancouver to win the Stanley Cup. At that point, I had been having fun tinkering with the recipes and my regular job was not fulfilling. I was stuck in a long commute working for a giant parent company that had acquired the start up I had worked in for 10 years. My life wasn’t going according to plan. I was really unhappy. So, when the Bruins won the Cup, that kind of completed the set of Championships over the previous ten years (I’m so glad I live here) and I realized that I had spent a lot of time watching people I didn’t know follow their dreams. So, I said it out loud “maybe I should make cookies for a living”

So, I worked more overtime at my job that made me unhappy – paid off a lot of debt and made it so I could work at a bakery for close to min wage. I learned a ton. In the meantime, I was taking some business classes and speaking to a shared kitchen space about getting started.

On September 5th 2014, the City of Boston gave me the OK to operate and my dream became a reality.

The truth is right now, I’m in a rough spot. We are growing and working so hard to figure out what we look like and I’m not going to lie. I’m really discouraged. However my dear friend Meg, who owns Third Cliff Bakery – a roving bakery that’s soon to have a home in JP reminded me that – celebrating this anniversary is about what we’ve done , not where we are going.   When I told my dear friend Amy (who is one of the best people on the planet) that this week was our 5th birthday, she asked me what I was most excited about this week five years ago. I replied “that it was legit, it was real”

With that in mind, I’d like to remind myself of a few things that I wouldn’t have believed about Top Shelf Cookies 5 years ago.

We would sell cookies in the shadow of the green monster.

We would sell cookies to the Bruins.

Sam Adams would become a great friend to us

We would be featured in the Boston Globe Food Section

We would be on tv teaching people how to make Fluffernutter coookies

We would make fluffernutter cookies.

We would make a cookie for the Boston Marathon called Left on Boylston.

We would be an active part of the Boston food community

We would make 9000 cookies for Martha Stewart

The list actually is a lot longer, but I have to wrap this blog up at some point and I want to say thank you to some people

First and foremost to my staff, I’m so grateful that you are in this with me. I love making cookies so much and doing it in Boston is a dream come true for me. The tough days are made better by Megan’s laugh or the fact that she sounds like a dinosaur when she moves stuff. I love that my best friend who doesn’t cook, has gotten up to scoop cookie dough at 6AM, but mostly I love that AnnMarie comes and works on the books at my dining room table and we have coffee and catch up. Anne, gets thanked twice because she works on the commissary team that now bakes our cookies and she does a fabulous job there –but now she pitches in and sells cookies at events and she’s so friendly and warm.

 Secondly, big thanks to CommonWealth Kitchen. If there wasn’t a place like this, I would have given up before I got going. I was able to grow Top Shelf Cookies in slow and steady approach. As we have grown we have been able to move our baking to the commissary team , which is a wonderful jobs program and it’s led by Seth Morrison – who has been an amazing help to me. For all the technical knowledge and troubleshooting and planning he’s helped me with, he’s also become a wonderful friend and he’s encouraged me to take days off when he knows that I need it.  The team itself, is made up of a wide range of people that I love with all my heart and I am so appreciative to them for what they do, but more importantly who they are.  I have learned a lot from them.

In addition to that, I’m grateful to have joined a really cool community and get the kind of support from fellow entrepreneurs like Alex from Alex’s Ugly Sauce, Jackson & Cassandria from Fresh Food Generation, Renee from Blonde on The Run , Adam & Ash from Bauman's Best Botanicals and many, many others. It’s also been my pleasure to pay those kindnesses forward to other entrepreneurs

Another huge thank you will go to the folks at Sam Adams, specifically Jennifer Glanville and Risa Sherman. Jennifer is a Bruins STH and a Fours regular and she watched all this happen and when I told her I was thinking about starting a cookie business, she told me she would help me. Within three weeks of us launching we had our first big order and I learned quick out to make pumpkin cookies.   Getting involved with Brewing the American Dream led me to Risa Sherman, who has since left Sam Adams, but continues to be one of Top Shelf Cookies biggest supporters and friends. Brewing the American Dream has helped us to get business loans and a lot of amazing practical advice.

There are some other amazing people I have met along the way, but you know I got end this blog eventually. You know who you are (I hope!)

But most of all, our customers are amazing. I work really hard to make sure we make a good and interesting product. Eventually we decided the best way to describe them was to call them craft cookies. Good, sometimes unusual ingredients paired with a good recipe and just try to make something really delicious. If I can jam a Boston reference in there, I’m going to.

I’m blown away at how it’s been received. When we get an online review, sometimes I tear up because I feel lucky to have this job. When people rush to our tent and drag a friend and say “this is what I was telling you about” my heart gets so full, like I feel like it might explode.

 5 years ago, I took far too small of an amount of money and I bet it on myself and promised myself when that money ran out that I wouldn’t keep going unless people liked what we were doing. To quote Tom Brady “We’re still here”   But, I really have you all to thank. Thank you for your likes, your double taps, your retweets. Your kind words make it so we show up with your google “Best cookies in Boston” Thanks for your orders, because exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

 Thanks Boston (and beyond) for believing in Top Shelf Cookies for the last five years. I’m looking forward to what comes next for our little cookie company.



Till next time - 



  • FLorence Canavan

    Hi Heather! My daughters, Amy ( you know her! and Karen) gifted me your Cookie of the Month for Mother’s Day! What an awesome idea! Had to read about your company. Great story… but even better.. GREAT cookies! I’m not usually big on lemon cookies but your Lemon Drop D’Lights were awesome! Big, dense cookie with a subtle not overwhelming lemon flavor. Loved them! Can’t wait until next month to see what’s up next! All the best to you! Keep growing!

  • Sara Herberger

    We love Top Shelf Cookies!
    Our COTM are a little bit of Boston all the way to Michigan.
    Heather, Congratulations on 5 years.
    We look forward to eating more cookies and seeing where this adventure continues to take you!

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