If you asked Elizabeth Kizito when she realized her career was a success, you’d see a twinkle in her eyes. “Oh, that’s easy,” she said. “When the Louisville Bats made me into a bobblehead.”
Louisville, Kentucky’s Triple-A baseball team distributed that bobblehead to honor the team’s 20th season at their home field, as well as the “Cookie Lady” for coming to nearly every home game.
Elizabeth is a small business owner with a storefront on bustling Bardstown Road, where she bakes and sells 12 different types of cookies, as well as biscotti, muffins and granola.
Powering through the pandemic
Like many small business owners, Elizabeth said the pandemic has been hard. Todd Bartlett, Kizito Cookies co-owner and Elizabeth’s husband, added, “COVID has been tough for Elizabeth. A large percentage of our sales came from her selling her cookies from the basket on top of her head at the Bats’ games and other community events.” Orders from local stores decreased significantly as well.
But the small business had at least three things going for it in 2020. Their delicious cookies. An episode of “Little America” on Apple TV+. And UPS.
“It was serendipity … the timing couldn't have been more perfect because the show came out in January; then everything started to shut down,” Todd said. “In March, we had a shipping explosion. And that gave us, and Kizito Cookies, a chance to be OK.”
Until the show aired, most of the bakery’s orders were regional and they averaged between five and 10 shipments a week. “After the show happened, we were doing about 25 shipments a day,” Elizabeth said.
Kizito Cookies needed help getting the ten-fold increase in orders processed and delivered. According to UPS sales executive John Mark Hummel, who manages the account, “now that Kizito Cookies is leveraging our UPS Ground network, they’re able to deliver cookies faster than ever.”
“John Mark was very nice and resourceful helping us,” Todd said. “He got us the label printer, labels and better rates. That was something we never thought we could do, get better rates, because we’re such a small business.”
With the support of her family, Elizabeth immigrated to the United States from Uganda in 1975, at the age of 17. She earned a degree in environmental health from Eastern New Mexico University before moving to Kentucky where she had another life-changing experience. She ate her very first cookie.
Although her father was a baker, Elizabeth had never tasted a cookie before. “I remember thinking it was the best thing I’d ever put in my mouth,” she said. “I started baking my own.”
At times, she made so many she’d take extras to work and share them with coworkers. They were a hit. Eventually, people started paying her to make batches of cookies for them, and Kizito Cookies was born.
“I think my cookies are special because I make them from scratch and I touch every cookie. I measure the ingredients and mix them and I shape them myself, by hand. And that makes them special!”
With UPS helping Kizito Cookies process and ship its product, Elizabeth and Todd are left to focus on what they know best – baking cookies.