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 Los Angeles?
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 products?
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 baking cookies?
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 business started?
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 cookies in?
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 comfortable with.
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 yet.

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.

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