As we begin the new year, I was thinking about themes to work on for the month of January. Other months with major holidays have easy to identify themes, like Halloween or the 4th of July. January is a time of renewal and reflection as we assess the previous year and look forward to the new year.
One theme that keeps coming up for me is "generosity." True, there is a lot of injustice in our world today, but there's also a lot that works well. And often, what works well in our lives is simply the result of our own generosity and the generosity of others.
If you look around, you can see examples of generosity everywhere and everyday. I think it's important to be aware of those moments because that's what gives us hope and happiness that things will work out. Stinginess may put a few extra dollars in the bank, but it won't lift your spirits or give you the truest sense of security and well-being.
The theme of "generosity" is something we try to live by everyday at Michael's Cookie Jar. When I started the business in 2006, it was important to me that we go back to basics and provide people with something real and sustaining and delicious. To me, that started with using only butter, sugar, eggs, flour, fresh nuts, imported chocolate and natural flavorings in all our cookies. That wouldn't have been a very smart move if the final product didn't taste any better than our competitor's products, but they do. And the customer notices. At first I was worried about the cost of using these ingredients, but our food cost for 2010 was less than 15%. I'm glad we decided to not skimp on quality ingredients and I'm even happier that our customer notices and is willing to pay the little bit extra for it.
Beyond the ingredients, we have a commitment to making all our cookies by hand, in small batches. We offer samples to everyone the moment they enter our bakery. And most times when customers place special orders, they receive a few more cookies than they originally requested.
We've also started building relationships with area schools. I'm happy to say that we've provided many cookies for school benefits so they can raise much needed money to improve their educational programs.
We're building a business on the idea that giving generously will create loyal customers who visit us often and remember us for their special occasions. At Michael's Cookie Jar we hope to be part of what works well in the world. All the best to you in 2011.