Karina Blasco knows how to make only one kind of cookie. If she tries to make anything else, “it’s disastrous.”
So why start a cookie company?
Because she’s really, really good at making that one type of cookie.
As the name of her Tacoma-based company Only Oatmeal suggests, she specializes in oatmeal cookies. She makes four flavors of oatmeal-based cookies, customizable with add-ins. She sells her cookies at small stores, farmers markets and her website.
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“When I was a preteen to early teenager, I used to make an oatmeal cookie, and I remember looking at the recipe and thinking, oh that ingredient stinks, it doesn’t work, so I’d put something else in. And I remember friends saying, those are really good cookies and my mom asked me to make some more the next year and the next year,” she explained.
Flash forward to adulthood when Blasco was a 25-year-old mother of two and working for a credit card company when she was laid off and handed a generous severance package.
She was searching for a business to start with her severance pay and began thinking about those oatmeal cookies. She took a test batch to an aunt’s party. “It was a platter of cookies, a turkey-sized platter, full of cookies and they were gone in 30 minutes, and there weren’t that many people there. I thought, ‘Wow, people really like these cookies.’ ”
That gave her the nudge she needed. She rented a kitchen and started baking.
Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce began selling her cookies.
Her company grew, but then she began struggling with juggling kids, a husband and a full-time business. She thought it’d be easier to work for someone else again. She took a job managing construction projects for a fitness company.
By 2011, it was déjà vu. She got laid off. Again. Another severance check accompanied that layoff. It was the exact dollar amount she received in 2003 when she started her first business.
“It was my do-over, and everything was exactly the same,” she said. She returned to Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce. But this time, she built a commercial kitchen in her garage to make her home-based business convenient as she worked her other job as mom.
Farmers markets became consistent clients. She sells at Tacoma’s Sixth and Broadway farmers markets, Puyallup, Steilacoom and Gig Harbor. She expanded to a small kiosk at the Outlet Collection in Auburn and now sells at Harbor Greens.
And now she has a new product. Oatmeal based, of course.
It was a mistake, actually.
“I tried to make granola, and it did not turn out. My son tasted it, and he said, ‘Mmmm, this tastes like candy.’ I said, ‘You know what, it sure does.’ So we’re going to make oatmeal candy clusters now.”
Son John Jr., a junior at Stadium High School, is her chief tester. “He’s my best critic. If I have him taste it, he tells the truth. We’ve been making gluten free cookies, and some of his comments have been hilarious. He said, ‘This tastes like chemicals in my mouth, what did you do Mom, what did you do?’ That one didn’t work, but we’re getting closer on that recipe,” she said.
Daughter Jataya, a seventh-grade student at Baker Middle School, is the only family member who isn’t tired of eating oatmeal cookies. “We’re all immune to cookies, but she’s my helper at the market, and I’ll see her snatching up samples at the market,” said Blasco. Husband John is the other market helper and the “natural salesman of the family.”
Up next? A “someday” dream of a retail cafe specializing in oatmeal cookies, candies and other oatmeal-based foods. “We’d do sweet, but also savory. We’d do granola, yogurt parfaits and desserts with an oatmeal twist. Our ideas are endless,” she said.
Info: 800-571-3970, onlyoatmealcookie.com or facebook.com/OnlyOatCookie.
Find at: Tacoma Boys on Sixth, Tacoma Boys Puyallup, H&L Produce, Harbor Greens in University Place and Gig Harbor. Also, at farmers markets during the regular market season.