Dawn Casale’s story brings new meaning to the phrase “the taste of sweet success”. This Woman You Should Know is the founder and co-owner of One Girl Cookies, an expanding dessert empire she started 12 years ago out of her tiny apartment. Back then, Dawn was “one girl” who spent her free time dreaming up all sorts of recipes for old-fashioned confections and modern treats, while baking thousands of cookies in the process to perfect her craft.
Today, the Brooklyn, NY based One Girl Cookies has become a sweet treat destination – famous for its gorgeous bite-sized cookies, amazingly moist cakes, seasonal pies and tarts, and dangerously addictive whoopie pies… all handmade from fresh ingredients. The brand includes two charming, “Urban Mayberry” style bakery/cafés, a mail order business, a wholesale operation, and a new, wildly popular cookbook.
Before butter, flour and sugar became the focus of Dawn’s deliciously decadent universe, Barneys New York, the world renowned luxury retail store, was the place she called her second home for six years. It was the classroom in which Dawn learned the importance of aesthetic, the power of creativity and the joy of indulgence. During that time, the urge to do something bigger and better for herself started to tug away at Dawn and she decided to return to what she really knew… food and people’s love of it.
To launch One Girl Cookies, Dawn looked to her Italian family for inspiration. She began to think about her childhood and how much of it had been happily spent in the kitchen. The memories of the aromas and flavors that came from her grandmother’s kitchen were vivid and exhilarating. That’s where she learned about the ritual and significance of food, the sense of happiness and comfort it brought, and the essential elements of quality and care that went into its preparation.
As she started to turn her dream into reality, Dawn went digging into her family’s treasure trove of heirloom recipes and personal photos that she still uses in her signature, One Girl Cookie packaging designs today. She often names her cookies for people who are most special to her: Lucia (Espresso Caramel Squares with White and Dark Chocolate Swirl) is in honor of Dawn’s beloved grandmother, and Lana (Bittersweet Chocolate Sandwiches Filled with Raspberry Preserves) was created for her favorite teacher, who was a little bit bitter, but mostly sweet.
Dawn’s family life and her brand are so inseparable that it is only fitting that when she hired David Crofton, a professional baker, to help her expand the business, it turned out that she had found the love of her life. The now married couple co-own and run One Girl Cookies together and live in Brooklyn with their son, Nate.
What Else She Shared… More With Dawn Casale
WYSK: What is the most interesting item in your handbag right now?
DC: My handbag is my work bag, so the most interesting thing in it right now is the paperwork for a wine and beer license for our new One Girl Cookies bakery and café in DUMBO, Brooklyn. We need to have a petition signed by the people who live in the neighborhood that basically says they agree that it’s a great idea for us to be able to offer wine and beer. So, I have been carrying that with me because I need to go around and get the petition signed.
WYSK: What gadget or technology can you not live without to do what you do?
DC: My iPhone… it has become such a big part of the way I do business.
WYSK: What is the last book you read?
DC: C’mon… like I have the time. I can’t even remember the last book I read for pleasure because it was so long ago. But, I do read cookbooks and I did recently pick-up, for the second time, the E-Myth, which I think is a great book for entrepreneurs and I often recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs. I read it for the first time maybe 3 or 4 years ago and now that my business has changed so much I thought it would be good if I reread it. But, I’m only on page 10, so I don’t know if that counts (laughter).
DC: People, especially my employees, who don’t pay attention to detail and who don’t appreciate attention to detail. It’s the foundation of how I run my business and it’s really important to me.
WYSK: What is your favorite indulgence?
DC: Truth be told, my favorite indulgence is CHEESE!