Maude Gagnon’s memorable St. Patrick’s Day had nothing to do with Irish-themed festivities.
On March 17 this year, the 26-year-old quit her job in marketing, opting to devote herself to making cookies instead. Gagnon turned her rapidly growing side hustle — born from what she saw as a gap in the city’s bakery scene and bred from an unrelenting demand for her 5-ounce treats — into a full-time venture, going ten-toes down on Southie Cookie.
“Now I actually get to do what I love and what I’ve always wanted to do,” Gagnon said. “It comes with a lot of hard work, but it’s definitely worth it.”
She first caught the baking bug in elementary school, after her family moved to Marlborough from Quebec City, and has spent the last decade and a half perfecting her cookie recipe and searching for a bakery that suited her taste, namely one that makes big, gooey cookies.
“There’s never been anywhere to get cookies like this,” Gagnon said. “It’s always been me making them.”
When Gagnon moved to South Boston in September 2020, the search for the perfectly thick cookie continued. In the meantime, she baked her own. In January 2021, Gagnon began posting photos of the cookies she was making in the small kitchen of her East Broadway apartment on Instagram.
Her DMs blew up.
“It’s even hard for me to believe people were willing to stand in line outside a random girl’s apartment to buy her cookies,” Gagnon said. “I was just like, ‘What the heck. Someone actually wants them?’”
They did. In droves.
She filled about eight orders per week, all organized through Instagram messaging. A year later, soon after moving to a different apartment on East Sixth Street, demand grew, with customers’ cars lining her neighborhood on distribution days. Gagnon, who graduated in 2019 from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, saw the signs.
“I decided I needed to take advantage of this dream coming true,” Gagnon said.
She made a website and linked up with Food rEvolution, a shared commercial kitchen in Stoneham focused on helping food startups, where she started baking twice a week after work. Gagnon connected with the gift shop In Good Company on East Broadway — which displays a sign that says “quit your day job, not your dream job” — to see if they would let her cookie pickups take place there, instead of out of her apartment. A year after starting at Food rEvolution, Gagnon did just what that sign encouraged, quitting her day job for her dream job.
“It was so hard to say out loud,” Gagnon said. “But it was the best decision ever.”
She spends Mondays through Thursdays at the kitchen, baking her core menu: classic chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter, and cookie milkshake — a vanilla brown sugar dough with Oreos, Golden Oreos, and chocolate chips mixed in — and rotates in a new flavor of the month. (The first-ever flavor of the month was “Party Animal,” a chocolate chip cookie with white chocolate chips, frosted animal crackers, and sprinkles.) Gagnon, who recently moved to Somerville to be closer to the kitchen, also works to develop new flavors of the fan-favorite stuffed cookies, such as red velvet Oreo cheesecake.
“People go crazy for those stuffed ones,” Gagnon said.
Southie Cookie’s cookies are free of preservatives or anything “shady,” as it says on the company website.
Securing a Southie Cookie is no easy task: The quest starts at 5 p.m. each Sunday. Customers place orders at southiecookie.com until sell-out. It takes less than 15 minutes to deplete the 400-cookie stock. The lucky customers who order online pick up their cookies every Friday at In Good Company from 1-6 p.m. Southie Cookie customers get 15 percent off goods in the store, so the arrangement is a win-win for both small businesses.
“It’s been cool to see the progression of her Southie Cookie community,” said In Good Company owner Kait Radkowski. “It’s nice to hear people talking about your business.”
But it could be getting a little easier to score some of these in-demand cookies: Deja Brew, a coffee shop on East Broadway, now carries a special oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Southie Cookie each week. Get there early, though. They tend to sell out within 90 minutes of being delivered at 7 on Friday mornings, and people line up for them.
There’s no shipping or delivery available, yet, although Southie Cookie does cater weddings and baby showers.
When Sky Hooper of South Boston emerged from In Good Company on a recent Friday afternoon, he was all smiles.
“They’re a great combination of a hard outside and gooey inside,” said Hooper, whose wife discovered Southie Cookie on Instagram a few months ago and has picked up cookies weekly ever since.
Southie Cookie is a one-woman operation for now. Gagnon’s parents and boyfriend help out when they can, but Gagnon hopes to hire help in the near future. She plans on sticking with the online shop model rather than a brick-and-mortar location to make the most out of her business.
A month into her full-time Southie Cookie career, Gagnon’s morale is “the best it’s ever been.”
“There have definitely been rough patches where I maybe doubt or question myself, but in the end, there’s been signs that make me happy and prove that going full-time is the right decision,” she said.