Liz Holtz Interview
(Liz Lovely Inc.)
Liz Lovely Inc. bakes and distributes Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified,
and Certified Vegan Cookies.
Liz Lovely also sells eco-friendly baked goods and gift baskets for consumers,
corporate giving and events directly from their website.
Founded in 2003 by high school sweethearts Liz and Dan Holtz, Liz Lovely
is located in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Liz Holtz spoke with us about her company.
Q – Liz, it’s a wonderful idea to make
Vegan cookies, but just how big of a marketplace is there for such a product?
A – Well, we started out trying to change peoples’ minds about
vegan products. Our market isn’t really vegan. It’s really the
Natural Food market. In fact, we’ve removed Vegan from the front of
our packaging. It’s now on the back. So, we’re really just targeting
everybody. And, the Vegans just sort of learned about us underground I guess.
Q – Why have you selected Vermont as a launching
pad for your business as opposed to say a bigger city like New York or
A – That’s a good question. We started our business in Philadelphia.
It was easy for us to grow there ‘cause there were seven whole sale
markets. It was easy to drive around all those places. We moved our business
up to Vermont because of the lifestyle. We didn’t want to stay in
the city. I guess we had a romantic view of what owing a business in Vermont
would be. (Laughs).
Q – How do you get a store interested enough
to distribute your cookies?
A – Well, it’s changed. We used to call them and send samples,
and they would just pick us up of they liked them. Now, we’ve been
using brokers to go around the stores. But, we’re sort of getting
back to going there ourselves, showing up at the store, making appointments
with the buyers. The personal touch seems to still work better, which is
kind of a slower route to go, but more effective I think.
Q – How far are you traveling to promote your
A – We’ll go as far as New York City. We’ll go down to
Philadelphia. We demo the product regionally, like New Hampshire, Massachusetts.
We’re sold all over the country, but obviously we don’t travel
all over the country. We’ll do some trade shows here and there, but,
we’re not going to every store in the country. So, we still have brokers
on the west coast handling that for us.
Q – What were you doing before you started
A – Before we started my husband was in the tech-web industry. I
was mainly in food service. I managed some coffee houses, in Ithaca, New
York and Philadelphia. Then my husband had a web consulting business for
awhile and I was helping him with the books for that. But, that totally
failed in the dot com crash. (Laughs). So, he was still in the tech industry
and I was just sort of meandering. I really didn’t know what I wanted
to do, and I ended up doing this.
Q – Are you someone who liked to bake before
opening Liz Lovely?
A – Yeah. In fact I’m more obsessed with just baking. I’m
more obsessed with just baking. I’m more obsessed with cookie baking.
I’m not a great baker of everything.
Q – At least you don’t have to waste your time trying to figure
out what you’re good at. You already know!
A – Yeah. It’s very specialized though. People ask me what
would you do if you weren’t doing this and I’m like, I’m
waiting to figure that out. I don’t know. (Laughs).
Q – Did it take a lot of money to get this
A – It didn’t take a lot of money in the beginning, really
just money to buy the ingredients and rent the space. But, over time it’s
taken more money. We’ve taken in some investors, but not a lot of
time. My husband and I had to put in a lot of work. If say we’d had
more money we probably could’ve done it faster. So, I guess we’re
on the slower route.
Q – Do you have an actual store you sell your
A – No. We’re just wholesale.
Q – How much growth is there for your business?
A – Well, do you want a number?
Q – Not necessarily. Whatever you’re
A – I’d like to see us as a big co. A big player. We always
joke we’d like to be the Ben And Jerry of Cookies. That’s sort
of what we’re going for. But, they’re way bigger than we will
ever get to. If we could be half of them that would be amazing. (Laughs).
Mrs. Fields is a good example of like the conventional product. We are like
the organic competition of that I guess. I would like to be pretty well-known.
Q – I’m thinking you really don’t
have that much competition.
A – Yeah. There isn’t much competition in the Organic market
Q – So, the field is wide open for you!
A – Yeah. (Laughs). I’m not sure if being the first one is
the best. Sometimes it’s better to have someone plowing ahead, and
clearing the path. But, it’s real easy to say we’re the only
cookie who’s Organic, Vegan and Fair Trade. So, no one can really
compete with that yet.
Official website: www.lizlovely.com
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