Entrepreneurs realize sweet dream
Starting a business isn’t easy. Just ask Katie Harvey, who founded KGBTexas.communications, one of the largest woman-owned full-service communications firms in Texas, in a one-room office in 1994. “Like a lot of business owners, I started out with big dreams and little fear,” says Harvey. “I was the company’s only employee, and I was in need of mentors. Luckily, at the age of 24, I didn’t know how inexperienced I was. If I’d realized how much I didn’t know about running a business, I probably would have been a lot more cautious. Fortunately, I had a lot of determination and a lot of caring people who helped me along the way.”
Twenty years later, Harvey has built up a successful company with locations in San Antonio, Houston and Austin, along with a wealth of business experience she’s eager to share with other entrepreneurial women. That’s why she’s presenting the Catalyst Award, a $20,000 suite of consulting and marketing support services, to a start-up, woman-owned business. It’s a scholarship to a real-world business school Lauren Pepping and Molly Rodenberg, founders of Cookie Cab, are thrilled to receive. Pepping and Rodenberg aren’t your average moms. Both had successful, and demanding, business careers, but when each had her first child, the long hours in the office were hours they couldn’t spend with their families, a sacrifice they weren’t willing to make. “Our families are very important to us,” Pepping explains. “Molly and I met through our children, so we had that instant connection. And we both had an innate desire to start our own business, but it had to be something we could do while spending time with our families. We also immediately bonded because of our love of food.” That combination of a passion for baking and an entrepreneurial spirit resulted in the birth of Cookie Cab. “We were talking about what we each wanted for our future and our families,” says Pepping, “and Molly said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could deliver warm, baked-to-order cookies?’ I loved the idea, and we started working on our business plan the very next day. We found the perfect commercial kitchen space to rent, and it just took off from there.”
The grand opening of Cookie Cab was put on hold for about a year while Pepping and Rodenberg each had another child before the twosome started delivering their “homemade” cookies in January 2014 throughout San Antonio. And they’re doing it on their terms — only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday — so they can still have time to spend at home with their youngest children. Demand has grown to the point they’ll start delivering cookies five days a week in September.
“The reception has just been amazing,” Pepping says. “Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? And when you can just order them online or by phone and they show up at your door warm and gooey? That’s just the best.”
“Lauren and Molly and I share a lot of the same values,” adds Harvey. “We want to provide for our families, but we also want to be with our families. I love it that these two young women are taking more control over their lives and taking the time to raise their children. I’ve been very fortunate in my career that some generous people shared their experience with me. If I can help another woman be successful by shortening her business-learning curve by sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned, then I’ve paid my experience forward. That’s what this is all about.”