Some of the most innovative and ground-breaking entrepreneurial ideas come from a place of struggle and adversity. When faced with a great challenge, some entrepreneurs use that as fuel to create a brilliant idea, often to the benefit of many other people.
This is definitely true of Loren Brill, the founder of Sweet Loren’s cookie dough company, whose company was borne out of a life-threatening experience she went through. In 2006, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at a young age. It became apparent to her that she needed to be aware of what she was putting into her body.
She cut out all the bad stuff after doing a tonne of research, but she couldn’t eliminate her sweet tooth no matter how hard she tried. So it only made sense for her to create a cookie company (one of her favorite snacks) that would satisfy her cravings but wouldn’t compromise her health.
After 4 years of researching the healthiest ingredients, Sweet Loren’s was born. Why shouldn’t a cookie be healthy AND taste good? She initially started getting orders from friends and family before the company started to grow. Clearly America loves its sweets and snacks, but a cookie dough brand that is also conscious of your health? Bring it on! Today Sweet Loren’s can be found in major stories such as Ralphs, Whole Foods, Publix, Wegmans, Food 4 less, and many more.
Being inspired by Loren’s entrepreneurial spirit and her warrior mindset, we spoke with her about her journey and why she wanted to create a product that so many people would get to enjoy, guilt-free.
Before we get into how you created Sweet Loren’s, tell us a bit about your background and health struggles.
I grew up in New York City and was a yoga instructor when I was 18 years old. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a BS at Annenberg’s School of Communication. Right after I graduated, at 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage 2, and had to start chemo immediately. I had always felt so healthy, so this was such a huge shock for me. Thankfully, after 6 months of chemo I was cured. But, I was forever changed. I felt first hand how important food was to my health and well-being, and how much I enjoyed the feeling and taste of all natural, whole food ingredients.
During your recovery, you started experimenting with healthy foods. Yet you chose to create your own line of cookie dough, which you wouldn’t stereotypically expect from someone invested in health options. What made you choose this?
I have always had a big sweet tooth, but during my recovery, I just lost all appetite for processed foods, and couldn’t find any sweets in the marketplace that were both delicious and made of ingredients that I loved. I want it all – to be able to eat a balanced diet and indulge in foods that are delicious. I hate the idea of being on a diet as a lifestyle, where there are limitations or I’m not allowed to eat the things that I love. I know that if you eat real, unprocessed ingredients that your body recognizes as energy, then your body knows how to digest it.
So, I started to make my own recipes because I couldn’t find any sweets or desserts that made me feel great after I ate them. A warm cookie is probably my favorite food in the world (isn’t it everyone’s?!), so I really just wanted to solve my own problem. It’s when I saw the way that others reacted to my cookies that I realized the desire for healthier and delicious cookies from almost everyone I met. I also saw an exciting business opportunity to build a brand that stood for something.
Friends, neighbors, and friends of friends started to order the cookie dough from me so that they could bake them off warm and eat fresh cookies whenever they wanted. That’s when I fell in love with cookie dough – it was a way to make it easy for anyone to bake off my recipes and also keep the product fresh without preservatives. No healthy cookie dough existed — we could do something that hadn’t been done before!
Had you any experience in the entrepreneur world prior to creating Sweet Loren’s?
I hadn’t started my own business before, but I was a waitress and yoga instructor, which both require entrepreneurial traits. Both my parents were entrepreneurs growing up, so I think through nature and nurture, I was built for this but also was inspired by my parents who were very passionate and happy about what they chose to dedicate their lives to.
Can you share some of the feedback you have received from customers?
Honestly, the best part is hearing how happy we make customers, hearing real comments of how fans are baking Sweet Loren’s in their homes or offices. We get moms and dads saying they have been buying cookie dough for years, and then try ours, and can’t believe the difference in taste.
Their whole family loves it. We get health freaks that are very strict about the ingredients they eat, and choose to indulge in Sweet Loren’s for their cheat days because they feel good about it. We get couples that bake a couple cookies a night with our place&bake packaging for date night or just nightly dessert. We get college students or single people that bake one or two at a time in their toaster oven and love the no fuss, mess, or clean up.
Tell us where Sweet Loren’s can be bought and how you are breaking barriers where it is being sold?
Sweet Loren’s refrigerated cookie dough is sold at all Publix, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Hannaford, The Fresh Market, ShopRite, Wegman’s, Fairway, and Whole Foods west coast and east coast. We are breaking barriers in all of these stores as we are the only women business owned or non-big-brand-name cookie dough competing again the big guys using the most natural and delicious ingredients I can get my hands on. We are determined to make food more delicious and smarter for the next generation to grow up on…. a modern baking company.
What is your message for other female entrepreneurs who may be struggling with a setback, health complication or barrier to their ambition?
I saw a therapist when I was going through treatment, and after I was cured for a bit more. I remember saying to her that I didn’t feel like myself anymore, that I was scarred because of what I went through, and how could I ever be ‘normal’ again? She looked at me straight in the eye, in shock and disbelief, and said, ‘Do you see how you could turn this into a strength?” That’s when it hit me big: Life is all about perspective.
You can let life disempower yourself, or let the things that happen in your life empower you to become the best version of yourself possible. I started to stop looking at myself as “I’m scarred and not normal anymore” to “I am the luckiest girl in the world to be alive right now”. Find your biggest passion, something that lights you up, and when you combine that with something you’re really good at and a need in the marketplace, you have a business opportunity.
Visit the Sweet Loren’s website to find where you can purchase the cookie dough at a store closest to you, and download coupons they have on offer.