Drew Haas had no way of knowing that an afternoon of baking cookies with her grandmother and cousin would lead her to a new career path: food entrepreneur.
Haas was heading into her senior year of high school in June 2019 when her family encouraged her to create an Instagram account to spread the word and begin selling her cookies .
“I didn’t really think that much about it, I kind of just went for it,” she says.
At first, Haas mostly sold to family and friends in Bethesda, but after joining a Facebook group for women entrepreneurs, she began receiving orders for families, parties and events. She also connected with other culinary creators on Instagram, who promoted her cookies on their pages. Her account took off, and today, Cookies By Drew has nearly 12,000 followers on Instagram.
Cookies By Drew receives about 25 to 30 pickup orders in an average week, Haas says. Though the majority of orders come from local customers, her creations have gotten nationwide attention thanks to her Instagram followers. When she announces she’s taking shipping orders on Instagram, signups can sell out in as little as 30 seconds, she says.
A four-pack of cookies usually goes for $15, though Haas sells bundles as large as twelve. She also offers cookie cakes and assorted cookie boxes for purchase, as well as specialty seasonal items for holidays like Valentine’s Day.
Though Haas ideally wants to expand the shipping aspect of the business, she especially appreciates the locals who place orders for their college graduations, birthdays and other special occasions.
“I’m super close to my local customers,” she says. “We really do cherish and appreciate that people come to us to help them celebrate.”
These customers are often the ones behind ideas for Cookies By Drew’s new sweet treats. Haas gets her inspiration from Instagram commenters who send out a new flavor they’d like to try, and from her younger brothers, she says.
In fact, family plays a huge role in her business. Now attending the University of Maryland, Haas says it’s been “an adjustment” to balance academics and the growing business. While she’s at school, her mom and grandma help out with the baking back home while she handles business logistics from College Park. Haas has also used the kitchen at College Park Grill to bake during the semester.
In addition to selling her cookies to individual customers, Haas collaborates with other businesses and social media accounts, particularly those targeting students. For instance, Cookies by Drew recently teamed up with Dormify, a company that sells dorm room décor, for a cookie giveaway.
Haas is also committed to working with charity. She’s donated proceeds from her cookie boxes to Strike Out MDS & Leukemia, in recognition of a friend’s brother who was recently diagnosed with both diseases, and donated cookies to people in need during the pandemic.
“It’s about getting myself out there, but also just helping the community,” she says.
Cookies by Drew may have started on a whim, but Haas said she’s thinking about the business long-term. She wants to get a storefront—or maybe even a few—in the future.
“I totally want to do this for the rest of my life,” Haas says. “I’ve seen how much it’s grown, and I just hope only for it to grow more.”