Lauren Roumayah, owner of Detroit Cookie Company, is spreading happiness across Metro Detroit one bite at a time. She talks about her lifelong passion for baking, what it’s like being a small-business owner, her current favorite cookie flavor and more.
By Chelsie Dzbanski
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background. I have always been a creative person. Growing up my favorite hobbies were competitive dance and cooking/baking with my mom. I initially went to college at Grand Valley State University as a dance major and then had a change of heart. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do so I decided to move back home and attend a community college. From there, I transferred to Wayne State University to pursue a degree in fashion merchandising. When I was a year away from graduating I knew in my gut that this career path, yet again, was not right for me. So in 2015, I started Detroit Cookie Company. After graduation I took an underwriting position at United Wholesale Mortgage to save money and worked the cookie company at night with my fiancee. It wasn’t until a year later that we would open our first retail bakery.
2. How did you get started in the industry? I got started in the food industry by working on my passion every day. I started with one product, our chocolate chunk cookie, then decided on a business name, created a brand and website and networked like crazy. Before we had a retail location, Detroit Cookie Company was sold exclusively online, wholesale, and for catering orders only. We were able to do this by getting health-department certified through the Culinary Studio in Southfield, a shared-use kitchen space.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job? My favorite thing about my job besides creating a product that can cause extreme happiness in just one bite, is my cookie fam. We have created a solid gold (or platinum since it’s the strongest) team who embody everything Detroit Cookie Company is about. We are creators, thinkers, bosses, entrepreneurs, foodies, dreamers and extremely compassionate individuals that love to spread joy and genuinely care about developing relationships within our community.
4. Can you share some of your career highlights or moments you are most proud of thus far? My most proud moment ever has and will forever be opening our retail location in Ferndale a little over two years ago. My husband and I busted our butts day and night to get the bakery up and ready for business. It was a giant leap of faith as we did not have the greatest sales prior to opening our location in Ferndale but we believed in ourselves and knew it was a calculated risk that we were willing to take.
5. What does a typical day/week look like for you? My days and weeks are anything but typical. I love a schedule but as anyone in the food/retail industry knows that is not always realistic. I love to start my day answering emails and making sure that our orders are accounted for that week. It allows me to gauge what we need to make and what our inventory needs are. During the day you can find me in the kitchen, up front at the sales counter, in meetings, at the store, or if you have looked at all of these places and still cannot find me, I am at the gym or with my dog!
6. What was your biggest mistake or failure and what did you learn from it? Hiring a graphic designer that did not see my vision or listen to me. When I was first creating the brand I hired a graphic designer that had their own idea of what Detroit Cookie Company looked like to them and did not listen to anything I said. I was too scared to speak up at the time and the brand was anything but a representation of me. When we were opening up in Ferndale a woman named Diane Tache reached out offering her graphic design services, as she had just made a leap of faith herself by quitting her corporate job and becoming self employed. We immediately clicked and she saw my vision better than anyone. Diane is one of my greatest assets and I love her dearly. I cannot thank her enough for making our branding what it is today. The biggest takeaway here for me is knowing when to speak out.
7. Owning your own business can be very challenging. What are the most difficult things about being a small business owner? Some of the most difficult things about being a small-business owner are learning how to maintain day-to-day tasks while focusing on long-term growth. It can be hard at times to recognize when your efforts are better off behind the scenes and to allow yourself to rely on your team without feeling like you are putting too much pressure on them. Delegating is the key here. There are a lot of times when I am not physically at the bakery working up front or in the kitchen due to internal work requirements and it makes me feel extremely guilty. I strive to create a good balance and know that no matter what I can always count on my team.
8. Any exciting projects in the works? Right now we are working on our “Cookie Lab,” aka our production facility. This is located right where we started in Ferndale, Michigan. Here we will make all of the dough that our future stores will bake and sell. By making all of our cookies in one facility, we will eliminate quality-control issues and be able to efficiently buy and store inventory for each location. Not only will this serve as our production facility but we will also be hosting baking classes at our cookie lab next year. Lastly, our Divco Milk and Cookies Truck will launch at the end of this year/early next year for events, food truck rallies, etc.
9. If you weren’t a baker and a business owner, what would you be? This is a tough one. If I weren’t a baker, I would still be a business owner. I am very passionate about empowering women through strength, fitness, and also building confidence. I would create a workshop where I could travel throughout the country motivating women and opening their eyes to what they’re capable of.
Now onto some fun…
10. What was your first job growing up? My first job growing up was at Rococo, a small women’s boutique in Downtown Northville and Birmingham. I built so many awesome relationships there and still see my clients to this day!
11. What’s currently on your playlist? Ariana Grande on repeat. She was the only thing that got me through Valentine’s Day 2019 as a baker.
12. What was favorite TV show as a kid? Sabrina the Teenage Witch! Who wouldn’t want to be a teenage witch?
13. Three things you can’t live without? My family (this includes my pups Geppetto and Blue), dessert and an eyebrow pencil.
14. Dream vacation destination? Italy! Nothing compares to their three P’s: pizza, pasta and pistachio gelato!
Local Love Questions…
15. Your current favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Detroit has so many amazing foodie destinations but if I have to narrow it down, breakfast at Toast, lunch at Stage Deli and dinner at Grey Ghost (get the wings with extra ranch and tell them I sent you).
16. Your favorite place to shop locally in Metro Detroit? Holiday Market is my go to for fresh produce and quality meats/seafood. My favorite local store has to be where my first job was, Rococo!
17. Your go-to for a good cup of coffee? I may be biased but I love our Sumatra coffee. However, If I am not drinking Detroit Cookie Company coffee, I’m drinking New Order Coffee. They are so awesome there and it’s a very relaxing place to get some work done.
18. What’s your favorite cookie flavor in the shop right now? Apple Pie Twix! It was supposed to be seasonal but I don’t want to let it go. Good thing what I say goes.
19. What do you love about Detroit? The people. Everyone’s rooting for each other. Detroiters are die-hard small business supporters and I could not be where I am today without the support from my community.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? This, from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” has been my favorite for a long time: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”