Robyn Frank, founder of Thumbs Cookies

Baker Robyn Frank finds home for cookie business in Minnesota

Thumbs Cookies are tiny treats with big appeal

By Erica Rivera
Monday, November 3, 2014

They say “good things come in small packages,” and in Robyn Frank’s case, they were right. Her business, Thumbs Cookies, specializes in bite-sized, hand-pressed treats. Dubbed a “Minnesota cookie with a Brooklyn twist,” Thumbs come in flavors like ginger clove, lemon thyme, rosemary pecan, and apricot and pistachio.

Frank, a longtime baker raised in Minnesota, learned to make Thumbs from her mother. It wasn’t until 2012 when her half-baked idea of starting a business took shape. While working at a hotel in New York, Frank brought in a jar of Thumbs to share; a colleague asked where she could buy them. Frank quickly recruited her neighbor, a designer, to work on logo and packaging. She visited gourmet shops in Brooklyn that stocked well-curated selections of artisanal foods and provided samples. Orders started coming in, and the demand grew from there.

While baking may be second nature for Frank, running a business was an acquired taste. She took a two-week course on the basics of small business, but found talking to other small business owners about the ins and outs of entrepreneurship equally helpful. “It takes a village,” she says. “It’s one little product and it’s one little company, but it takes so many people to make it work.”

In July of this year, Frank moved back to Minnesota for personal reasons — and soon realized the relocation offered professional advantages as well. Overhead is lower and Frank feels the market is more accessible in the Twin Cities.

“People here are trying to nurture and coach businesses. It’s gentler,” Robyn says of Minnesota. “It’s easier to maneuver. People open their doors more. They’re very supportive. The food community is very accessible and friendly. That’s the best part about being here — all the other people and entrepreneurs I’m meeting.”

Thumbs Cookies is already doing more business in Minnesota than it was in New York and the holiday season looks to be even busier for the baker. Thumbs Cookies launches at Local D’Lish on Nov. 5. They will also be on shelves at Fleurish in Excelsior and online at GiftSquad (a same-day gift delivery service). Frank, who bakes out of Kindred Kitchen in North Minneapolis, relies on one part-time employee and, of course, her mother, to keep production humming.

A labor of love that also makes a profit? Surely that deserves a "Thumbs up."