Fitness coaches find sideline success making ‘bad-for-you cookies.’
Photos: Anthony Rao
Best friends, fitness coaches and competitors Ashley Bowden and Morgan Williams were in the kitchen in July 2019 with a desire to create healthy cookies. Their plan didn’t work.
“They were disgusting,” Ashley says. Even her husband, Nick, chimed in at the time saying, “Y’all should never make cookies again.”
However, Ashley, 30, of Mount Dora, and Morgan, 29, of Tampa, weren’t going to let a cookie flop stop them.
Savoring cookies and Tito’s vodka “has always been our thing,” says Ashley, referring to the “cheat meals” they would enjoy after fitness competitions. They just wanted to try their hand at making their own cookies.
“Since our attempt to make healthy cookies was an epic fail, we decided right away that we were going to make ‘bad-for-you cookies,’’’ Ashley says.
The pair went to work experimenting with their own recipes for cookies embedded with candies, cookie crumbles and topped with a sweet drizzle of icing for a crowning touch.
Ashley, a full-time assistant physical therapist, started making cookies for her family, her patients and Morgan’s competitions. Then the two began meeting at Morgan’s house every weekend to perfect the recipes and come up with more flavors.
From their own love for cookies, they felt it was a great business opportunity. Ashley had always wanted to open a bakery, and Morgan’s research found that there weren’t many cookie companies in Florida.
“One day, Morgan decided to put icing on one of the cookies,” Ashley says. “We started drizzling it and said, ‘Hey, we should do this on every cookie.’ … We went to the gym later that day and were on the treadmill trying to come up with a business name and we didn’t want it to be just cookies. Morgan yelled out ‘Drizzle’ because every cookie would have drizzle on it, and we instantly fell in love with it.”
Drizzle Cookie Co. was formed in October 2019 as a strictly online company that ships cookies all over the United States. The cookie menu includes the Basic, the PB, the Animal, the Muddie, the Velvet and the Oat. Their most requested cookies are the Velvet, the PB and the Basic.
“The funny part is, when we launched, we were both on a competition prep and we couldn’t even try our own cookies. We had to rely on taste-testers,” Ashley says. “This allowed us to get an honest review of our cookies before we sold them.”
The cookie business is their side gig—for now. Ashley also is a part-time fitness coach, while Morgan is a full-time fitness coach and previously worked as a corporate recruiter.
“As fitness coaches and competitors, we live a healthy lifestyle,” Ashley says. “Throughout the year, we are doing on-and-off competition prep, and that allows us to have room for cookies as a treat every now and then.”
Her favorite cookie is the Velvet. Morgan craves the Doodle.
“I can never stop eating that thing, or the Bark,” Morgan says. “Ashley sabotaged me with that cookie.”
The Doodle and the Bark are premium cookies and not always on the menu.
“What we hear most about our cookies is that people can’t stop eating them. We actually get a lot of repeat customers,” Ashley says. “Due to the industry, with cookies available everywhere, we really thought we would struggle with this, and the funny part is, some of our repeat customers are our own (fitness) clients. We have to tell them they can only have them for a ‘cheat meal.’”
Morgan and Ashley were pleased to receive strong support for their business from family and friends.
“They loved it and always want us to make them free cookies,” says Ashley, adding that one of her favorite parts of the business is creating new cookies of the month and hearing how much people love them.
During some weeks, the women are busy baking cookies on a daily basis.
“We bake either the day of or the next day once the order comes in,” Ashley says.
Cookies are shipped one to two days after an order is placed. Some orders are baked in their homes and they also utilize a commercial kitchen in Tampa for large orders, though the $100 an hour fee is costly.
“We are currently looking for a local kitchen in Lake County as we expand,” Ashley says.
The most cookies in a single order was last Christmas when a medical sales representative requested 120 cookies for his clients as gifts, which were shipped all over the country.
“When we first launched, we were shooting for 50 orders and we were bummed when we got 30 orders,” Ashley recalls. “It took us 13 hours and we were ready to kill each other by the end. God knew 50 was too much.”
The partners have found that running an online company requires consistency with advertising, social media postings and word of mouth. They want to grow their business beyond the internet and expand their clientele beyond just people at competitions, which was their original idea.
“We want to eventually get a food truck or trailer and start a ‘Cookie Tour’ going to different cities on the weekends to sell our cookies,” Ashley says.
They also are eager to do more custom cookie orders for baby showers, weddings, office parties, birthday parties and other events.
Ashley believes Drizzle cookies can be enjoyed anytime for any occasion.
Morgan heartily agrees and admits her love for the cookies: “That’s the only thing I eat.”
Favorite cookie ingredient?
Ashley: “Oreos! Which is funny because I never liked Oreos and thought it was weird when Morgan wanted to put them in the Velvet cookie, and now I’m obsessed.”
Morgan: “Reese’s.” The candies are in the PB cookies.
Do you dream of cookies?
Morgan and Ashley’s recipes
“Since we weren’t able to master making healthy cookies, we will share a couple of our favorite healthy recipes to help your sweet tooth,” Ashley says of two lower-calorie dessert recipes.
- 1 Graham cracker crust
- 1 box sugar-free cheesecake pudding
- 1 box sugar-free chocolate pudding
- 1 tub fat-free Cool Whip
Put down graham crackers first, then layer with cheesecake pudding, then chocolate, then Cool Whip. Refrigerate overnight.
Protein Mug Cake
Can be made in a coffee cup or small bowl
- 1 scoop protein powder (our favorite is Ghost Chips Ahoy)
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. powdered peanut butter
- 1 tbsp. coconut
- 1/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients and microwave for 35-40 seconds.
Drizzle Cookie Co.