With two locations of her popular cookie dough business, The Dough Dough, in Dallas and Frisco, Gina (Ginsburg) Farmer is living out her dreams. The 39-year-old celebrates the big 4-0 next month and plans to celebrate her birthday, honeymoon and her sons’ summer vacation all in one with an 8-day cruise to Italy, Spain and Greece, which happens to be somewhere she wanted to visit before she turned 40. The Chief Dough Officer (similar to a CEO but for cookie dough) works hard studying to become a gemologist while running The Dough Dough and taking care of two boys, William (11) and Jonathan (10). Pro tip: If you want customized sugar cookies, like even things you’ve found on Pinterest, The Dough Dough will make it. We sat down to chat about her new ventures and how in the world she stays on top of everything.
Tell me about The Dough Dough. How did it start?
The whole story okay. My kids and I have been making cookies and cakes and baking in our home kitchen since they’ve been toddlers. They’ve always enjoyed coming up with their own recipes. They told me about DŌ in New York, they had been following them on Instagram. I was headed up there for some studies and they asked me to go check it out. I fell in love with the business model and thought, “Why can’t we do this in Dallas?” But, we will put our own spin on it and do our own recipes. Dallas [location] opened in March of 2018, and Frisco just opened in February of this year, 2019.
Has the Frisco location been picking up?
Frisco is starting to pick up, yes. We’re noticing our baked goods, surprisingly, are more popular in Frisco than they are in Dallas. That may be because of the way they are displayed or people like baked things more, but that’s an interesting dynamic that our baked component is a lot bigger.
Did The Dough Dough start out as just a cookie dough company?
We always wanted to be dough-centric but offer baked goods as well using our dough. So most of our recipes whether it’s the cookie dough stuffed cupcakes or our dough cakes, our toaster pastries, which are stuffed with cookie dough, they all have a component of our cookie dough within it. We switch [the items] up. We have brookies every day, but Thursdays might be toaster pastries day, or we only serve our cake slices on the weekends, so people start to plan what particular baked good they want.
Are there any special dietary options?
We’ve got two gluten-free options—chocolate chip and sugar cookie—and we’ve also have two vegan options—vegan sugar cookie and vegan coconut chocolate chip.
Since you started baking with your sons prior to your company, have they become obsessed with eating The Dough Dough’s treats?
Their favorite time of the month is R&D [research and development] because I still do R&D weekly—tasting new recipes, trying out new cookies. That’s how our rainbow cookies came to be because we were doing R&D at home. They really like and enjoy the benefits of the process because they get to be taste testers too. That’s the part they really love. Kids are brutally honest, and they will tell you whether they like something or they don’t like something. My kids, fortunately, have developed a little bit of a taste bud to say, “Oh, mom, that’s too salty,” or, “This is too sweet. Why don’t we add pretzels to balance out the salty and sweet.” So they’re innovative too, which is really a lot of fun to incorporate their ideas into it.
What’s your favorite thing to make and your favorite flavor?
I think that our dough cakes are unique to the Dallas area, and the amount of creativity and flavor combinations that we offer really allow for that customized, unique cake for that customer. That’s probably the most fun to make and design, but my favorite flavor is birthday party. Probably because it took the longest to perfect.
What’s in the birthday party flavor?
We’ve got two different flavors of cake mix in it. We’ve got white cake and yellow cake, but the secret is, every chef has a couple secret ingredients, but ours is our frosting because it’s not a traditional American buttercream. It has more of a vanilla, really strong vanilla flavor, so it gives it that birthday cake flavor.
You’re super active. How can you work here and still be in such great shape?
Well, discipline. Discipline and moderation. Really it comes down to in order to be the best version of myself every day, I have to get up and start my day off with me time. That’s an hour in the gym, and it allows me to think through my day and prioritize what I need to get done, but also get in a healthy and clear mindset while doing it. So, it’s the combination of what you put in is what you put out and moderation.
How do you keep up with your boys? I’m sure they have so much energy. I saw them wrestling on your Instagram story. Are they wrestlers?
No, it’s just brotherly camaraderie. They’re so competitive because they’re only 18 months apart, so they share the same friend group, and my younger son plays up to his older brother’s age group. So they play sports on the same team together. They’re best friends until they’re not—until someone gets hurt, and then they’re not best friends. Being a boy mom was something I was initially very afraid of because I am the epitome of a girl, and I had always envisioned being a mom of little girls and doing the frilly dresses and doing the manis and pedis. I had no idea, as an only child, I didn’t have any brothers and sisters, what to do with boys. I don’t like bugs or snakes or playing in the dirt, but I realized after I became a boy mom, that it allows you to be a kid again, and it allows you to do things that maybe aren’t within your comfort zone. So getting down in the dirt and playing and having mud pies and doing four basketball games on one Saturday afternoon. What seems like something that you would not enjoy doing ends up being the highlight of my day because I get to see the excitement and joy on their face while they’re doing it.
You just got married last month. How does it feel? How are you adjusting? How was the wedding?
Two weeks ago. The wedding was beautiful. It was intimate and perfect. It was less than 100 people and just close family and friends down at The Joule. Ya know, we’ve been together for over four years, and we’ve lived together for almost four years, so it’s really not any different. He still leaves his dishes in the sink; we still sit on the couch and watch Netflix; or play board games with the kids every night. So really it’s not any different other than it being legal.
Any advice for moms looking to start their own business?
First of all, put together a strong business plan. You need to be humble and surround yourself with people who know more than you do. Seek out their expertise, and put together your own dream team of business leaders. Most importantly, I would say to continue to silence the naysayers because there’s always going to be your haters, and there’s always going to be people who say you can’t do something. You just have to believe in yourself and persevere.
I saw you’re a student. What are you studying?
I’m one exam away from being a gemologist with a GIA. As a little girl, I had the biggest rock collection out of anyone I knew, and I had the rock tumbler, so I could polish my stones. I had all the different tools to cut the geodes apart and examine them under the microscope. So I think from an early age, I was fascinated by gemology and rocks and minerals. Then as I became older, and I started to invest in jewelry—whether it was colored stones or diamonds—it was important to me that I understood the provenance and not only where the stone was from but what type of quality it is, so I could ascertain its value. That lead to doing some investments in some gems, and the infatuation that diamonds of a girl’s best friend stuck. With the gemology degree I hope soon to—in my spare time, in my free time—to do appraisal, jewelry appraisal.
Are there any future plans with The Dough Dough?
We are just looking to continue to find qualified franchises. We’re able to franchise all over the country, and finding the right markets to put those franchises in. In terms of corporate stores, yes, there are plans in the future, but it’s kind of like kids. Both are toddlers, both of my stores are in the toddlers phase, so I have to raise them to be self-sufficient first before we expand the family. Yeah, our catering business continues to grow. We are going to form a partnership with EZ Cater online that will help put us out in more corporate space. Between doing Bar Mitzfahs, weddings, birthday parties, we come to you. We make [it] effortless and seamless. Whether it’s a birthday cake or bringing an entire dough bar, we can do anything from 20 to 500 guests.