Today is #GivingTuesday - while we really have lots of great charitable organizations that we love to work with, I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about a non profit organization that has helped me and greatly impacted my life: CommonWealth Kitchen

When I set out to start Top Shelf Cookies, I knew what I didn't have:

1. Culinary experience

2. College Education

3. Money

4. Space to work out of (or the money to build it out)

I knew what I had:

1. Really good cookies.

2. Work Ethic

3. Willingness to learn

4. A job that made me miserable

There was NO other option, Top Shelf Cookies would be my way out of my misery.  My job making me so unhappy, I had become someone my friends didn't want to be around, I didn't even want to be around me.  Times were dark, unless I was baking cookies.  

I started to do some research on where I could bake.  I wasn't exactly sure about CommonWealth Kitchen, sharing a space seemed like it would be a headache.  If I was renting space from other business - that would have timing challenges.  

I figured I would at least inquire.  I got an email from Roz with tons of info and forms. I nearly hid under my desk!  I remember thinking: "What's so scary about some forms?"  You know what's scary about some forms?  A lot, it's admitting to someone that you have this crazy ass dream that you want to follow.  I kept thinking, at some point someone will stop me.  My friends wholeheartly endorsed this idea, my very sensible father encouraged me - the only one standing in my way - ME!

So, when Roz sent a follow up email - I stopped talking myself out of this and started talking myself into it.  I filled out the forms.  I worked on a business plan, I figured out some details.  Eventually, I would go on to meet the staff at CommonWealth Kitchen.  Everyone was so helpful. Roz sent me to a great class geared toward food entrepreneurs. I sat down with the executive chef Brad and talked through some processes.  I learned a lot, I still do.  I look to Brad a lot - even still after more than two years.  

Eventually, Top Shelf Cookies got started.  There was a logo, there were orders, clients, vendors, bills.  It was all so real, it wasn't just in my head, people knew about it and people seemed to like what I was doing.

Commonwealth Kitchen even gave me the ultimate part time job.  I work in our commissary kitchen doing contract work with all kinds of cool clients.  This job gives me the flexibility to run my business, while still bringing in some money to help support my household.  The job itself, I have learned so much from. Working alongside our commissary manager, Seth - has been amazing.  I have learned a lot about how to set up the kitchen for maximum success.  Seth and the rest of the staff at CommonWealth Kitchen have been an amazing resource. 

The community of entrepreneurs is amazing.  It's great to have them as a resource when I'm trying to solve problems, select a vendor, find out if events are worth my time.  My favorite part is to truly celebrate the wins with them and to truly commiserate the losses with them.

As Top Shelf Cookies has grown, CWK has worked alongside me to help me be successful.  They've been patient with me through growing pains.  

I'm a truly different person than I was more than 2 years ago.  I don't let the little things get me down, I am happy, I am tired, I am a proud business owner. 

While this is a really great feel good story - the point is pretty simple.  I wouldn't have made it this far with $2500 and a few good cookie recipes on my own. Having CWK as my home base is the reason we still have a home base.  I would have run out of money or confidence long ago.  

CommonWealth Kitchen helps provide these opportunities to over 40 start up food businesses.  It allows so many of us to find out if our idea works as a business, if this is the life we want for ourselves.  

I'm beyond grateful that my job is baking cookies, it is incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding.  

Please consider donating to CommonWealth Kitchen for #GivingTuesday  - they are changing our local food system, while changing a lot of lives. 





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