By Angela Thoma
Six years ago, on a stormy winter night in Watertown, Susan Haggerty conducted a fateful experiment. Little did Haggerty know how tinkering with various ingredients in the kitchen would inspire her new business venture.
Haggerty’s dog, a yellow lab named Brady, needed some treats. With a New England snowstorm raging outside, Haggerty was not keen to run out to the pet store. Instead, she chose to get creative, rolled up her sleeves and took to the kitchen.
Haggerty concocted a variety of recipes, experimenting with different ingredients like apple sauce and beef broth. Skeptical of the preservatives in store-bought dog treats, Susan wanted a recipe “without all the crap.” After some trial and error, she settled on six simple ingredients: pumpkin, peanut butter, oatmeal, eggs, flour and milk.
″[Brady] really enjoyed them and still enjoys them to this day,” Haggerty said.
After seeing how much Brady loved her homemade treats, Haggerty decided to start selling them to other dog owners. That summer, she reached out to the Waltham Farmers Market and signed up to be a vendor.
In honor of Brook
Waltham Farmers Market told Haggerty she needed a name for her dog treats. At a loss, Haggerty turned to her husband, Steve, for ideas. He suggested “Brookie’s Cookies,” in memory of their niece Brook Ramsdell. Ramsdell had recently died from sarcomas at 19 years old. She had been like a daughter to the Haggertys, who do not have any children of their own. Baking the treats became a way for Haggerty to redirect her grief.
“If I didn’t do these cookies, I don’t know where I would be,” she said. “These really have been a lifesaver for me.”
Even now, as her business grows, Susan finds the baking routine calming.
“It still is excellent therapy for me, just to have something I can put my mind to,” she said.
Susan has sold the cookies at the Waltham Farmers Market for the past six seasons. Five years ago, she started to sell them at Watertown’s annual Fair in the Square. Typically the cookies sell out within a couple of hours.
“I don’t know if I have a unique cookie,” Susan said. “But I have a cookie that is very popular with the dogs.”
The Haggertys bake between 400 to 600 cookies every week. It takes them about an hour to bake 120 cookies. They both work full-time jobs, so they make them during the weekend.
“We get them done pretty quick,” she said. “It is just the baking that takes some time.”
What’s next for Brookie’s Cookies?
The Haggertys are expanding the business. On May 1, they launched a website where anyone can order a batch of “Brookie’s Cookies.” There are three options: 10 cookies for $8.99, 15 cookies for $12.99, and 25 cookies for $20.99. Susan anticipates shipping and invoicing will be the biggest challenges.
“I think it’s going to take a little while, but I think we are going to get it,” she said.
In the future, she hopes the business grows even more and wants to venture beyond cookies to cakes and other more complicated treats.