By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
It was Kelly Simmons’ grandmother who inspired her affinity for baking. She classified her grandmother as a great cook. Anything she concocted was made from scratch, and Simmons fondly recalled assisting her in the kitchen and eagerly licking the bowl and spoon.
“That really made a big impact on me, more than what I even realized, because as I got older, I kind of drifted away and wanted processed type foods,” said Simmons. Her desire for McDonald’s outweighed her desire for homemade dishes as it often does.
However, when the Baltimore native began having nieces and nephews, she wanted to supply them with the same experience her grandmother gifted her years ago. Simmons started with brownies and later switched to cookies.
As a young girl, she remembers using her spare change to buy her favorite butter crunch cookies, but, as she grew older, she could never track down that trademark taste. After speaking with her grandmother and experimenting in the kitchen, she finally constructed a recipe that provided her with the indelible taste.
Although many enjoyed her cookies, Simmons never considered monetizing her creations, but while working as a teacher, convinced her otherwise. “It wasn’t until I made [cookies] for one of my classes, and the students just raved over it and really encouraged me to sell them,” said Simmons.
She started selling the cookies at her school, and the reception compelled her to start Aunt Kelly’s Cookies as an online shop in 2016. Two years later, Simmons opened up a bricks-and-mortar store in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.
“It’s almost full-circle to know that I came upon this cookie [in Baltimore], and now, I’m providing that same great taste, myself, for my city,” said Simmons.
Her recipes stand out from competitors because Simmons relies on simple, locally-sourced ingredients. The shop’s customer service also elevates her business. Simmons has instilled in her employees that it’s crucial to greet patrons promptly and with a smile.
The cookies are baked daily, and Simmons cuts off the baking process about two hours before closing to ensure that they are fresh for customers. The flavors include butter pecan, snickerdoodle, walnut chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and classic chocolate chip, but the number one seller is the butter crunch cookie.
In the short term, Simmons hopes to open up another location for Aunt Kelly’s Cookies. Some have suggested that she should situate the new shop in Southern Maryland, Philadelphia or Atlanta.
“It feels so good to hear people say, ‘I was having a bad day, and I ate [one of your] cookies and felt better,’” said Simmons.
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