The owners of a Lancaster cookie company have been chosen as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Eastern Pennsylvania Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2023.
The administration’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Office said Sara and Doug Taylor, owners of Taylor Chip Cookies , 1573 Manheim Pike, were chosen for the award after they took their dream of starting a chocolate chip cookie business and grew it in three years to more than 40 employees, $2.5 million in sales, and more thab 20 flavors of cookies.
The award will be presented Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Manheim Pike location.
“Our business was founded in pursuit of perfecting the chocolate chip cookie,” said Sara Taylor, owner, Taylor Chip. “It’s incredible for us to be named SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Young Entrepreneur of the Year.”
SBA said Doug and Sara were born and raised in Lancaster County and started baking as something fun to do on date nights with a goal to create the best chocolate chip cookie ever with only the healthiest ingredients.
It took them over a year to perfect the recipe, and they handed out the oversized cookies as favors to their guests at their wedding in 2017, SBA said.
The only flavor at the time was chocolate chip which led to the name of the company, Taylor Chip. In 2018, they expanded into a small market stand selling to the public, hired their first employee, and reached out to the Lancaster chapter of SCORE, according to SBA. SCORE provided financial and marketing expertise, and assistance in finding business locations.
“Before they could close on a property, COVID hit and Doug and Sara did an immediate U-turn, deciding instead to focus all their efforts on developing an online business to sell cookies directly to their customers across the country,” SBA said.
Taylor Chip counted on the SBA through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that helped them keep their employees on payroll and continue operations.
“They learned how to utilize their marketing and social media skills to engage customers and grow their business,” SBA said.
According to SBA, E-commerce drove their rapid growth, and post-COVID they opened retail locations in Lancaster, Intercourse, and Hershey. Additional locations and an ice cream manufacturing line are in the works to be able to ship ice cream along with their cookies directly to their customers.
“I’m excited to celebrate Sara and Doug’s achievements and the support they received from SCORE Lancaster to make their entrepreneurial dream a sweet reality,” said Steve Dixel, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania director. “We are proud our SBA emergency loan programs helped their business during the pandemic.”
Nominator Dick Hendricks, counselor, Lancaster SCORE chapter, said, “When the Taylors first approached SCORE in 2018, our first reaction was ‘does the world need yet another cookie producer? We realized very quickly that Doug and Sara were different, and our job was to help them realize their dream.”
SCORE has conducted over 100 meeting and mentoring sessions with Sara and Doug over the last four years, said co-nominator Louis Davenport, counselor, Lancaster SCORE Chapter.
“We are thankful for the guidance and support received from our Lancaster SCORE Counselors, and of course, the SBA PPP and COVID EIDL loans which enabled our business to survive,” said Doug Taylor, co-owner, Taylor Chip.
The Taylors demonstrate their commitment to the community by contributing 10% of the company’s annual profit to various charities. They focus on SCORE and couples in need of assistance who are adopting children.
SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winner is selected from among nominees located across the 40 counties of eastern Pennsylvania. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy.