ATHENS -- Krista Gay needed extra money to help pay for college.
And she also happened to be having a hard time finding organic cookie dough.
So the recent Leland & Gray High School graduate decided to solve two problems at once with Krista's Organic Cookie Dough, a new online business that already has attracted orders from customers in several states.
"The coolest part for me is to see people who I don't know ordering from Facebook," Gay said.
The Athens resident is not shy about her ambition: She writes in her online biography that she wants to study biology and become a researcher to "stop children from dying of preventable diseases."
Gay also is no stranger to hard work. She said
Gay is looking forward studying at John Brown University in Arkansas. But she noted that "all of my scholarships only cover my first year of school."
To raise some extra cash, Gay tapped another of her talents -- baking. She has been making deserts for years and easily rattles off kitchen tips she learned from her grandmother.
"She was always baking something. It always amazed me that she didn't need recipes," Gay recalled with a smile. "I'm not that good yet."
But she was confident enough to launch a commercial venture that also, Gay believes, fills a market niche. She recently decided to
"I had to go to five stores to find organic chocolate chips," she said.
Krista's customers have no such problem: They can log onto her website, www.kristas-organic-cookie-dough.com, and place an order for chocolate chip, peanut butter or oatmeal-raisin dough.
She says most batches make about 36 cookies and cost $15, which equates to approximately 42 cents per cookie. And Gay lends a personal touch, making dough to order and accommodating those with diet restrictions such as soy-free, gluten-free or vegan.
"I was really surprised" at the response, Gay said. "I thought it would just be friends and family. But I've sold to people in Connecticut and Florida."
Gay will deliver locally for free to those who post on her business' Facebook wall or send a message.
Farther-flung customers must order from her website and pay for shipping. Gay has developed a technique for safe shipping: The dough is frozen overnight, placed inside a thermal bubble wrap and sent out for two-day delivery.
"I've had people look in from other countries," Gay said, "but I can't do international shipping."
Of course, Gay knows she won't fund her college education with cookies. But she reasons that "a couple hundred bucks is still a couple hundred bucks."
Plus, she's learning researching, business and marketing skills. And Gay says she's also spreading an important message about organic food.
"That's something I want people to know: Organic can taste good," she said.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.