Sweet Success: Recipe for Entrepreneurial Inspiration

Meet Ziuri, Owner of Zee's Cookie Box. Learn about her journey.

2/4/20245 min read

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Meet
Ziuri Allen

NO GATEKEEPING! INTERVIEW

beautiful black woman smiling with cookies
beautiful black woman smiling with cookies

We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Ziuri and shared our conversation below.

Ziuri, thank you for joining us today. Every journey begins with a spark – an inspiration that ignites the path to business creation and innovation. What inspired you on the path of entrepreneurship, and how has that initial inspiration evolved over time?

Not being dependent on just one avenue. I am not a "hustler." I like doing one thing at a time, but being beholden to job that can let you go in an instance and change your financial well being makes no sense. I found out that I need to always be able to depend on myself, and this is something that works for me.

Well now you got that hustler spirit. Before we dive into the specifics, could you share a bit about your background and the experiences that have shaped your path in entrepreneurship?

My background is actually in television production. A long way from baking but one did lead to the other. I studied journalism and media studies in college and went on to work in studios, currently in animation. That journey took a very long time to break in to and I found myself unemployed for almost nine months before getting my first job. I then experienced two lay offs at the same company; each time I worked with amazing people who ushered me in to my next positions.

My second layoff lasted over a year and a half and I was dead broke! Right before the layoff I bought a new car and a Kitchenaid stand mixer, pretty big purchases. While I had the time I started baking cookie recipes I found online and they all sucked. So I began to play around with my own recipes, and I had tons of cookies to give out. Folks then started to ask how much I charged for cookies and that light dinged. I still wanted to work in television but its a fickle industry and the layoffs taught me that I need to have a back up plan and always have another way to make money. So while I found new jobs, I continued to hone my skills and turn my dreams in to a reality by having my own bakery.

home baker with cookies
home baker with cookies
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Reflecting on your journey, what unexpected challenges have you encountered, and how did you navigate them?

I don't think I realized the full scope of owning and running a business. Yes, I can create recipes and make a good cookie that people will buy but, how do I create a cool logo? How do I market myself to strangers? How do I elevate this idea in to an actual business. For the first time in my adult life I wasn't excelling because these things were out of the scope of what I knew how to do. So I asked for help. A simple, but massive feat. There are so many moving parts to being an entrepreneur and the essential thing is to know your strengths and weakness and build a team of people who excel where you do not. It can be one other person, but its important to have a helping partner.

That is a fact, so with all these moving parts, how do you stay resilient in the face of setbacks, and what role does resilience play in entrepreneurial success?

I am an overall anxious person but I always aim to see the glass half full - anxious positivity is my secret super power. Being an entrepreneur is always being aware of the setbacks and being prepared to push through. There is an end goal and we have to remember that above all else and keep trucking forward. Being able to pivot is key.

beautiful black woman smiling
beautiful black woman smiling
What role do you think mentorship plays in fostering a culture of support and growth within the entrepreneurial community?

Mentorship is a huge benefit in helping people move forward. It creates a community and that is essential for everyone to excel in any industry. We need others to talk to in order to gain insight, learn different perspectives and to sometimes just listen to us - it all helps us to build and become better within ourselves and our perspective fields. The cherry on top is that you now have a community you may not have otherwise known, who will speak your name in rooms you may not even dream of.

Can you share a specific challenge that seemed insurmountable at the time and the steps you took to overcome it?

I am fully self funded, and that is always a challenge. This past year I started doing farmer's markets to step in to the real world. While the baking business is pretty low cost to enter - it also adds up. When finalizing my market details I felt like I was drowning and was not sure how I would afford all the associated fees: business insurance, health department permits, tables, a tent, decor and displays, as well as the cost of making my cookies: ingredients, packaging, labels, label makers, etc.

The base cost was a lot to someone self funding for an event happening in a few weeks. I asked for help. The hard thing to do at times, but the most necessary step in success. I hate asking for things but once I reached out to my personal community, so many of my friends and family helped me and took off a huge load. From money, to their personal time - it all mattered and helped me tremendously; and it reminded me that I am not alone in this.

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Describe a networking experience that significantly impacted your business or personal growth.

Being a part of local farmer's markets is its own networking experience that I did not realize would happen. I was able to immediately learn and grow from just talking to the other vendors. It's a true community that I am thankful for because it was something I didn't truly think about coming in to the market. I am able to learn of other opportunities, to collaborate with other vendors and to up my business acumen by comparing notes with new business owners and folks who have been entrepreneurs for decades.

beautiful black woman smiling with homeless man
beautiful black woman smiling with homeless man
beautiful black woman peace
beautiful black woman peace
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