The Maui Cookie Lady, Mitzi Toro, has been in business for three extraordinary years. The first year started with baking cookies as a fundraiser for the ICU nurses who cared for her father before he passed away. The second year, making them became a favorite hobby. It wasn’t until this past year that Toro took it seriously as a business. “I had to learn about all the stuff that is not so fun, like budgets, profit margins, packaging, food compliance, business math, taxes and licensing, just to name a few,” she explained. “Once I decided to give it a full-time try, I needed help. My receipts were in a shoe box and I really was not sure what the business was costing. One day I met with the Maui Economic Development Board office, spoke with the Business Development team there, and the rest is sweet history!”
Funded by the County, MEDB offers advice and mentoring for businesses at all levels. Through this mentoring, Toro was able to gain deeper understanding of what the true costs to produce her cookies were and how these affected the price of her product. Far too often, companies don’t understand all of the costs that go into manufacturing a product. By the time they realize their mistakes, it can be too late. MEDB was able to provide tools and instruction that made understanding the relationships between cost and price simple. This kind of analysis can help project future profitability.
Toro also enrolled in MEO’s CORE-4 course which, she said, was “instrumental for me and the company’s survival. By the end of the class I had a 30-page business plan, faith in myself, and the tools to make the business both viable and feasible.” The Maui Cookie Company, chosen as one of 12 start-up businesses having the most potential, was accepted into the Maui Food Innovation Center’s Accelerator Program. “I am so grateful for three months of incredible mentoring and support from successful CEOs and representatives here on Maui. I was honored to win the top three awards and I will compete on Oahu in the near future,” said Toro.
The Maui Cookie Company is expanding, with products now being sold at select stores, hotels and restaurants. Toro currently ships nationwide and internationally. “I love crafting cookies with distinct flavors, using high quality, locally sourced ingredients,” she said. The demand for her cookies, cakes and other items, including the new Cookie Butters from Hawaii, continues to grow rapidly. A single bite shows why! For more information, visit themauicookielady.com.
The support and love from the community for our little island bakery still makes me tear up when I think about it. I feel like I am the little guy who is living the Cookie-preneur dream. The future is bright and full of sweet aroma.
Mitzi Toro, The Maui Cookie Lady