Paul Wackym had the urge to change his career path when the economy went downhill. He abandoned the security of corporate employment in favor of a more personal entrepreneurial endeavor and started Wackym’s Kitchen in a rented kitchen space. Wackym stood on the docks at the Dallas Farmers Market every weekend throughout the freezing winter and smoldering summer and built a loyal following. “I had confidence that if I made a great product, consistently showed up and let the product speak for itself, then customers would follow,” said Wackym.
(Photo courtesy of Joy Zhang)
“‘Hello! – Would you like a bite of cookie?’” is the battle cry of Wackym’s Kitchen and my catch phrase. I have always offered lots of tasting samples to everyone who crosses my path. I am committed to operate from a generosity of spirit.”
Wackym says he doesn’t sell cookies. “I give cookies away. The net result of giving cookies away through constant sampling is that we also sell lots of cookies. For example, within our first year, our grassroots approach at the markets, providing lots of samples and testing new flavors, brought us our first wholesale customer, a small all-natural convenience store in East Dallas, The Green Spot,” said Wackym.
“After six-plus years of baking and sharing cookies, I still go to local markets almost every week in order to sample and share sweetness. Staying in touch with the local food movement is paramount to the success of Wackym’s Kitchen. Constantly being in front of our core customers on the micro-level, introducing new products and packaging and then receiving feedback, has helped to build an awesome larger customer base that has fortunately grown every quarter since we have been in business.”
“Allowing the product to speak for itself has continued to be the key to our success even with larger customers. After leaving a year of unreturned voice-mail messages to a buyer who approached me at the farmers market, the business development manager for H-E-B’s Central Market, tasted all of our crunchy, all-natural cookies that day and selected six varieties for Central Market. Six months later, Wackym’s Kitchen launched not just into one local store but all nine Central Market locations throughout the state. I visited every store to sample our cookies and to meet as many customers and employees as I could. We are now Central Market’s second highest volume cookie line behind a huge national brand. We are the little cookie that could. We are proud to now have our cookies available in specialty retail stores throughout the country as we continue to grow. Tasting samples have been a huge part of our expansion and success, and they will continue to play a key role in how we reach new customers.”
“If I were to give one piece of advice to someone starting out, I would say to be passionate about what you do and to always let the product speak for itself,” said Wackym.
This article was written by Robin D. Everson for Small Business Pulse