Cookies By Design Franchise Owner Got Back To Her�roots

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cookies by Design is a baking and gift business started in Catoosa in 1983 that has expanded to more than 200 locations nationwide.

The company takes dozens of themed cookies and arranges the baked goods into flower-like bouquets. The Tulsa World recently talked with Lisa Renee Willhite, daughter of founder Gwen Willhite. Lisa Renee moved back to Tulsa from Dallas in 2007 to take over the original franchise at The Farm shopping center at 51st Street and Sheridan Road. Before returning to Tulsa, she worked at a franchise in the Dallas area, near the Cookies by Design headquarters. Mirroring the way Lisa Renee helped her mother get the original Cookies by Design business off the ground, Lisa's daughter Danielle Johnson helps run the franchise. What persuaded you to come back to Tulsa to take over the Cookies by Design franchise here? I ended up back in Tulsa in a roundabout way. In 1992, I owned the Cookies by Design shop in Garland, Texas. I wasn't looking to sell the shop, but my mother twisted my arm to get me closer to our family roots. My mom had a family farm in Berryville, Ark., and she had dreams of us living there and enjoying time out of the city. At the time, my youngest daughter was in eighth grade, and I thought the farm would be a fun place for my daughter to grow up. Then, in 2007, when the stars were aligned, my mom asked if I wanted to buy the Tulsa shop. And without skipping a beat, I said, "Of course." I lived here until I was 20, in the same neighborhood in Catoosa. I went to school here from first grade through Catoosa High, so I had plenty to come back to with all my old school friends. I've always loved Tulsa and someday wanted to be back here. I've been running the Tulsa store since then. You once worked for/with your mother, and now your daughter works with you. What is the secret to working together as a family? We seem to always be able to keep business and personal lives separate, and it helps that we all enjoy being around each other. When we're at work, we focus on our jobs. And at home, we focus on family. My daughter and I have different roles in the shop that highlight our strengths. I oversee customer service, and my mother and my daughter are the creative ones in the business. We blend well together, which has helped our business grow. What kind of creativity are you allowed to exercise as a franchise owner? Being the daughter of the founder, my mother probably comes in my shop more often than others, and she's the first to say if she thinks something is working or not. But beyond our mother-daughter relationship, the Tulsa Cookies by Design serves as a test shop for new ideas we develop. We test them on our customers to hear valuable feedback.

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Cookies By Design/Cookie Bouquet
1865 Summit Ave., #605
Plano, TX

Phone: (972)398-9536
Toll Free: (800)945-2665
Fax: (972)398-9542

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