It all started with a chocolate chip cookie, says Jordan Johnson, a 2018 graduate of North Gwinnett HS and the teen entrepreneur who owns and operates the eponymous business Jordan’s Cookies. And the process to develop her “signature cookie flavor” all started when Jordan was just 8 years old.
Jordan explains that she wanted to have a business of her own during her parents’ summer garage sales. “But I didn’t want a traditional lemonade stand,” she says. Jordan credits her family’s encouragement and her own taste for sweets for putting her on the path to becoming a young business owner. Jordan’s Cookies— which offered cookies and lemonade that first summer— was born.
As her summertime interest became a year-round passion, Jordan reached out to her community for support. She worked with a family friend with catering experience to explore flavors, learn about packaging, and determine what customers like (and don’t like). Neighbors, friends, and family served as the guinea pigs for rounds of taste tests. She continued with her summer cookie stand and tried her hand selling cookies in the neighborhood and at local farmers markets.
For a decade now, Jordan has been building both her business and her business skills. Not surprisingly, when she got to high school, marketing classes were a great fit for this up-and-coming entrepreneur. Jordan says she learned a lot of great lessons, but one in particular sticks with her. “Working hard for the things you really desire in life is important,” she says, “but you also need to work for the right balance.” Even as she grew her business, Jordan didn’t let her grades slip (straight A’s). She played a couple of sports and was active in school clubs, including DECA, the student marketing club that she led as co-president her senior year.
Dr. Jacqueline Huffman, Jordan’s Marketing teacher at North Gwinnett, says that Jordan applied what she learned in the classroom— from speaking skills to business planning— to boost her business, but she also had the “heart and perseverance” to pursue her dreams. Dr. Huffman says Jordan’s perseverance especially stands out in DECA competition. She competed in 9th grade and didn’t place, and took 7th in the state as a 10th grader but didn’t qualify to advance. While Jordan’s business plan won 1st place in the state her junior year, it fell short at the next level. However, her fourth try was the charm.
Last spring, as a senior, Jordan capped off her high school career with top honors in the Business Growth Plan event in international DECA competition. The event involves creating a 30-page business plan and making a 15-minute presentation on how to grow the competitor’s existing, licensed business.
“I was completely overjoyed. All my hard work over the years had paid off,” says Jordan, who also was named 2018 Teen Entrepreneur of the Year by Partnership Gwinnett.
So, what kind of advice does Jordan offer prospective teen entrepreneurs? She urges young entrepreneurs to network, join clubs, and “develop your ideas and develop yourself.” And don’t forget that social media is a great way to share your product and your passion for it. “Initially, you need something you’re truly passionate about,” she says. “If you feel strongly, you can build a success from there.”
And success is sweet. Jordan estimates that she’s baked and shipped “many thousands” of cookies since she started her business. Her online retail business, launched in 2013, ships cookies from California to New England and everywhere between. The company sells 15-plus rotating flavors of freshly baked, all-natural and organic cookies to individuals and corporate clients from coast to coast.
“Our Classic Chocolate Chip is our most popular cookie,” she says of the signature flavor that started her business and remains her favorite. Jordan’s Red Velvet Cookie and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie round out the top three bestsellers, but new flavors, like her Coconut Clouds and Colossal Sized Cookie-Brownie, are establishing a following.
While her company is able to rent shared space in a commercial kitchen, the arrangement allows for just one day a week for Jordan and her volunteer crew to bake, package, and ship the week’s orders. With an eye toward the future, Jordan has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise capital for a business expansion to fund dedicated kitchen and warehouse space, equipment, and, ultimately, a planned storefront.
For now, Jordan is continuing her education at Georgia State University where she’s majoring in Finance and Marketing. But that doesn’t mean she’s neglecting her business. With a vision of creating the “Best Cookies On The Planet,” Jordan is working hard to make Jordan’s Cookies a household name and every day a little sweeter, one delicious cookie at a time.