Photography by DŌ, unless noted.
In a moment of revelation, business owner Kristen Tomlan solved the age-old dilemma between the deliciousness of raw cookie dough and the fear of salmonella. Her creation, DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections, is safe to eat raw and can also be baked, so everyone is free to eat their cookie dough any way they want it.
What are the roots of your love for baking? How does baking make you feel?
My mom is a chef, so being in the kitchen with her and learning all the ins and outs of baking and cooking was something that started for me at a very young age. Baking has always been a source of happiness and comfort, as well as a form of therapy at times. I love the process of baking—turning simple ingredients into magically delicious confections. It’s a creative outlet in many ways. Best of all, baking is about sharing. We bake for occasions, for celebrations, and for friends and family. For me, it has always been about spreading that joy.
Were you allowed to eat raw cookie dough growing up? What is your favorite thing to bake?
I was allowed to eat unbaked cookie dough, at least in moderation. My favorite thing to bake was always cookies so that I could have some of that dough. It was a special treat in my household. Anytime I would make cookies, I had to set aside some of the cookie dough for my dad when he got home from work.
What was the impetus for creating DŌ? Were there other names considered?
My “aha!” moment happened during a girls’ trip to Philadelphia. We happened upon this cute cookie shop, but instead of purchasing any of the freshly baked cookies, we bought a frozen tub of cookie dough that was meant to be baked at home. We sat in the car and were passing the tub around when the idea came to me: “Why is this not a thing?” I wanted a place to go eat cookie dough exactly how I wanted it—straight from the mixing bowl, fresh from the oven, or mixed into ice cream. From the earliest stages of development, I was calling it “DOUGH,” because it was all about the cookie dough. But I didn’t want to spell it the usual way, which is how I landed on DŌ.
How daunting was the idea of starting your own business?
The idea was incredibly daunting. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had no experience starting or running a business, nor did I have any experience in the food industry. I trusted my gut, leaned on my husband and a handful of good friends and advisors, and didn’t let my doubt slow me down.
In what ways did your previous career in experience design help you with DŌ?
My previous career helped me immensely. I was designing customer and retail experiences and environments and coming up with innovative new concepts and initiatives for my clients. It taught me to think about every single moment in the customer journey and to think about what memorable moments will keep customers coming back. So doing it for myself and for a vision I was passionate about was actually much easier than doing it for others.
What was your thought process when establishing branding for DŌ?
I wanted it to be bright, colorful, and happy; after all, eating cookie dough is an experience that takes you back to your childhood. From there, I knew I wanted to incorporate circles in some way since everything cookie-related— the cookies, cookie scoop, mixing bowl, and measuring cups—is circular.
Were you surprised by the success of DŌ?
I thought that DŌ could be a huge hit, but I was blown away by the response. We opened to four-hour-long lines. The reaction exceeded my expectations! I was so happy to know that so many other people shared my obsession with cookie dough.
What is it like having a business in New York City? Why did you choose Greenwich Village?
I love New York City so much. We chose Greenwich Village because of its central, downtown location, easy access to public transportation, and proximity to Washington Square Park. It’s in the heart of NYU’s campus and sandwiched between trendy SoHo and busy Union Square. While New York is amazing, it comes with a lot of challenges, too. Most notably, it’s expensive, which makes it difficult to be a first-time business owner.
What keeps you excited about running a business?
I’m incredibly creative, so constantly coming up with new ideas, launching products, and testing new flavors is forever fun to me. It’s all about spreading joy, and the best part about my job is when I see the joy that my business brings to others.
What is your best seller? Where do you find inspiration for seasonal flavors?
Our Signature Chocolate Chip—the first recipe I ever came up with—is hands down our best seller. It has warm and cozy vibes in the most nostalgic way. We make sure we hit all the classic cookie flavors, but we also love playing up seasonality and relevant cultural moments. We find inspiration for these seasonal flavors wherever we go. Some are inspired by our favorite desserts, childhood sweets, or travel destinations. We also take flavor suggestions on our website and in-store.
Was it difficult to create a cookie dough that was safe to eat raw but could also be baked?
It took a lot of trial and error, a ton of experimentation, and so much taste testing. But once I cracked the code, it was easy to replicate across other cookie recipe types. We use pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour to ensure safety.
What age group enjoys DŌ the most?
Honestly, it’s such a huge range. Kids absolutely love our sweet treats, but adults find themselves acting like kids again when they are sitting down to eat some cookie dough. We like to think there is something for everyone, including gluten-free and vegan options.
In what ways have you expanded the business? Any future plans?
The business started as direct-to-consumer online. Since inception, we have opened multiple retail locations and pop-ups, launched a line of baking mixes and flour, started our baking (now virtual) AcaDŌmy, and launched dozens of new products, and I also wrote a cookbook: Hello, Cookie Dough.
How would your friends describe you?
Funny, thoughtful, determined, and strong. What advice would you give to first-time business owners? Trust your gut. Only you know your business. You are the one with the vision, so make it happen.
For more info, visit cookiedonyc.com