Blondies Kitchen founders bring their passion for American-style cookies to London
Kristelle Levy and Chelsie Collins put their spin on American-style treats when they opened the UK's first and only milk-and-cookies bar in London. Here, they talk about their NYC inspirations, customer connections, and lofty ambitions to become Britain's top biscuit.
While they come in many tantalizing varieties, the cookies from Blondies Kitchen all have three things in common: a freshly baked crisp edge, a soft centre, and a satisfying chew all the way through. So, whether you're biting into a double chocolate chip or coconut with raspberry jam, you're sure to savour each and every mouthful.
Those three cookie commandments come from Kristelle Levy and Chelsie Collins, the chefs-turned-cookie-entrepreneurs who launched Blondies Kitchen in 2016. And while their London flagship location in Selfridges Food Hall on Oxford Street couldn't be more British, the roots of the idea stretch across the Atlantic.
"We were in the midst of running our catering business as a bit of a side hustle when we both took trips to New York and fell in love with the hole-in-the-wall, fast-food concept they have there," the bakers say. "We realised there was nothing like this in the UK, so we decided to bring it back."
They began by testing some of their original, American-style cookies with clients at private catering jobs. Guests went wild for their inventive recipes and fanciful presentations, convincing the duo that they were onto a winner. Before long, they both left their jobs to build a business together, dreaming up new cookie concepts and opening the UK's first and only milk-and-cookies bar.
"We started small, but [only] four years after we launched the business, we have a real headquarters. This step is a bucket-list tick for us," they say. "We are so passionate about our cookies; it's hard to put it into words sometimes."
They're certainly not at a loss for words when it comes to their menu. With names like "Movie Night Nuggets" and "We're Nut Fudging Around," in addition to their bright, modern packaging, these cookies evoke a sense of playfulness and pure fun.
"We add a touch of nostalgia to everything on our menu, which takes you right back to your childhood," Levy and Collins say. "Our aim is to make people smile."
While their treats evoke a sense of the past, marketing for Blondies Kitchen relies on cutting-edge methods to connect with customers, something they've proven adept at.
"We built our relationships through social media, and now it's how we reach our customers, listen to their feedback, and continue to adapt our business," they explain. "For us, social media is a way to communicate with people who care about food as much as we do."
As with other small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges for Blondies Kitchen, but it also presented an opportunity to reach new customers.
"It's been extremely challenging adapting and finding solutions to problems, such as the high street being closed when our main source of income and awareness was from trading daily," they say. "However, we adapted our e-commerce platform to be able to deliver across the whole of the UK on a next-day service, so all our cookies arrive fresh at people's doors."
It's also made them appreciate their suppliers even more, many of whom have lost considerable business over the past 12 months.
"Our suppliers have always been there with the view that they're on our journey with us," the bakers explain. "During the pandemic, we've been one of the only customers for our dry stores and dairy suppliers, so we'd like to think we've helped them through a difficult time."
With brighter days ahead, Levy and Collins are focusing their journey on an ambitious goal.
"Our ultimate goal is to be recognised as the number one cookie brand in the UK," they say. "We want to keep spreading cookie joy."