Your Name: Ali LaRaia

Business Name: Marianberry Cookies, an all natural boutique cookie company

Type of Business: E-Commerce; Food & Beverage

Business Location: New York, New York, United States

Reason for starting
Four years ago, upon my first sip of marionberry beer, it all started. After that first taste of the Oregon blackberry, I was on a quest to explore marionberry in all ways, fresh, preserved, frozen, infused and reduced. Using my platform as a food writer and working in the test kitchen in San Francisco, I devoted time to researching and experimenting with the ingredient myself. I began to see a future with marionberry beyond the berry. ‘Marian’ is also the name shared with my Great Grandmother and Mother, both of who have inspired me and encouraged me to become an entrepreneur. I couldn’t help plan a food start-up that tied in the legacy of my Great Grandma with my passion for marionberry. Shortly after, I packed up my life and moved back to New York knowing that I had my most valuable resource in the kitchen, my mother. We’re now selling nationally via Bloomingdale’s and online.

How do you define success?

Biggest Success
Landing another woman entrepreneur with a Wall Street background was the final piece of the puzzle. We developed a strong business model, established a brand identity, marketing strategy and launched our online store. These seemingly small steps ultimately landed us on the shelves of Bloomingdale’s eateries along the East Coast. Four short months later, we expanded nationwide. Marianberry went from a local New Jersey cookie to a beautifully branded nationwide company.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Shipping is definitely the biggest challenge and I address it every day!

Who is your most important role model?
My great grandma, Marian.