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You can say the Morels have mastered the art of the cookie deal.
What began as a cheat meal has blown up into a full-blown confection “cartel” for Karen and Juan Morel, the husband-and-wife co-owners of online-order bakery My Cookie Dealer, which after only over two years of operation, is flourishing at a time when other food-based enterprises have struggled due to the COVID pandemic.
The price for their entrepreneurial success certainly has included longer work days and shorter and inconsistent rest times, which clashes with Juan’s strict routine as an IFBB Pro bodybuilder as well as the couple’s role as parents of a young daughter. But in return, the low-key pair’s success allows them to help pay it forward by both creating jobs in the Long Island community as well as an opportunity to help support those who kept My Cookie Dealer afloat during its mom-and-pop infancy.
They’ve built their edible empire primarily through the power of social media, after Juan, the 2015 and 2019 New York Pro winner, began posting images of Karen’s culinary creations on his Instagram page. For calorie counters, a bite of any one of My Cookie Dealer’s half-pound products (try curling a box of a dozen cookies) may seem like a diet death sentence, but Juan says his DMs immediately became flooded from both foodies and his bodybuilding brethren seeking out info on how to get their own.
Since then, you could say the “cartel,” as they jokingly refer to My Cookie Dealer, has gone legit. Their orders have skyrocketed from 500 a week to now topping 90,000 for cookies, which Karen says, come in a variety of over 1,000 different flavors, made with premium, all-natural ingredients. “I’m now cracking over 15,000 eggs a week by hand,” Karen jokes. My Cookie Dealer even boasts nearly 280,000 followers on its own Instagram page.
The growth also resulted in the couple now employing nearly 50 employees, from cooks to “pushers,” the name designated to those workers who personally deliver hundreds of orders daily throughout Long Island. The pair admit the business has come a long way from its early days when they would distribute “the goods” from the back of their Chevy Suburban in the parking lot of any number of bodybuilding shows.
Now, as soon as My Cookie Dealer announces its limited-quantity batch is available on its website and social media, they’re sold out within hours. This turned into a clever, albeit inadvertent, sales ploy that caught the attention of competitors.
“People thought that it was some marketing scheme, but it was never like that,” Karen says. We’d be all over the world at Juan’s shows, so I couldn’t bake, let alone take orders. But now over the last two years, there’s so many companies that are trying to replicate what we’re doing. They say that they’re sold out, but we did that because that was how we had to do it.”
Because of the loyalty shown by family and friends, cookies are just a small token toward repaying those who were there for them, adding their support for bodybuilding shows, including the Olympia, as ways to say thank you. Karen says the support means everything to them. Juan shares the same sentiments and is grateful as well.
“if it wasn’t for the bodybuilding industry, we wouldn’t be around either,” Juan says. “Bodybuilding is something I love and am passionate about, but it also gave me the platform for where I am now. And this is our way of supporting bodybuilding. We’ll continue to do whatever we can.”