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Conversations with Brittany Vargas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Vargas.

Hi Brittany, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
After graduating from Princeton University in 2008 with a Psychology degree, I moved to Ireland to do volunteer work and travel. As part of my volunteer work, I spent more time in the kitchen, gaining confidence in my ability to cook, bake and think creatively about food. After a year in Ireland, I moved to San Francisco with my (now) wife and started a career in educational fundraising – first in special events for a private school and then in field fundraising for Stanford University. Working in special events granted me constant opportunities to travel and try many different restaurants, bakeries, and catering companies across the country. I love to eat and have a particular love of cookies, a treat I seek out anytime I travel. While on the East Coast, I fell in love with the style of thick, decadent, slightly gooey cookies but couldn’t find anything similar in California. I knew that I wanted to create that cookie concept here in SoCal.

In 2017, my wife and I moved back to our hometown of San Diego to be closer to our families before having children. As we began our reciprocal IVF journey, I began regularly baking cookies as a creative outlet to help with stress management. When sharing the treats with friends and family, people often implored me to sell my cookies. After a tough pregnancy and dangerous labor and delivery, I chose to stay home with my first daughter. I quickly learned that even though I loved being with my baby, I found my role as a stay-at-home mom occasionally isolating and boring. I wanted to feel connected to the world outside of motherhood, so I circled back to the idea of finding a way to sell my cookies.

In 2019, I became an official cottage food operator and obtained a health department permit to bake from my home kitchen. This option gave me the flexibility to build my company from scratch around my daughter’s schedule. I launched the Thick and Thin Cookie Co. brand on Instagram and built a solid local following. With occasional community pop-ups at breweries and coffee shops, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the small business support from our community. Last year, I gave birth to my second daughter during the pandemic. Needing more flexibility, I shifted the structure of my business to focus on flash sales. My dream is to open a brick-and-mortar with a kid-friendly, community-oriented vibe. For now, I love testing out new recipes and creating sweet treats for my community!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely hasn’t always been a smooth road! Before launching my cookie company, I had to obtain a permit from the health department. Though it was a relatively simple process, it was difficult to track answers to many of my questions. Without any prior business experience, it took a ton of time, research, and mistakes to figure out how to officially launch.

The pandemic brought its own set of challenges – everything from sourcing ingredients (remember when everyone started baking and all the stores ran out of flour?) to the rising cost of common grocery items affecting pricing. My family is my priority and my daughters still require a lot of time and attention, meaning I really only have time to prep and bake late at night or very early in the morning. All in all, it’s been a fun learning experience that has helped me feel productive and connected to my community.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I bake cookies from my home kitchen in Encinitas, CA. Initially, I specialized in the super thick, gooey cookies that are popular on the east coast but quickly realized there’s also a market for incredibly thin, buttery, cracker-like cookies. This was the inspiration for the name of my company – Thick & Thin Cookie Co. I have a type of cookie that works for all cookie lovers!

I’m most proud of building a company from scratch with a craft product that continues to be in high demand. I have built a loyal fan base almost entirely from organic, consistent posting on my Instagram account. I’ve gotten to know so many people through this company and local events, which makes me less isolated as a new mom. Lastly, I strive to be as honest and real as possible on social media about the struggle to juggle motherhood and a business; the response has been gracious, patient, and supportive, for which I am grateful.

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is cultivating a sense of self that isn’t entirely dependent on my role as a mom. I realized that losing myself in motherhood wasn’t good for my mental health and certainly wasn’t the behavior I wanted to model for my daughters. Creating this company and connecting with the community helped bring a healthier balance between being home with my girls and pursuing a productive, creative outlet.

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