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Meet Nanci Gelb and Terri Tsagaris of Off Our Rocker Cookies in Arlington

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nanci Gelb and Terri Tsagaris.

Nanci and Terri, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
We, The Co-Rockers, like to call ourselves “Seniorpreneurs,” starting a business at 50 plus in the food industry just when we should be sitting it out on our rockers! When we first came up with the moniker, “Off Our Rocker” we chose a name that embraced our zaniness and our creativity. Picture Lucy and Ethel at the helm, lacking professional baking and packaging skills but armed with humor, tenacity and serious taste buds. Our goal, to prove to the world (ok, maybe just the county proper) that we needn’t envision a future on our rockers knitting and drinking Gin & Tonics on the front porch. At the same time, understanding the value of doing just that – pausing to enjoy the sunset and recognizing that our experiences as mothers, as well as our professional backgrounds, has provided a backdrop to this new chapter. How many times have we told our children that they could “be what and who they wanted to be” (except for President of the US) and how often have we invoked the “follow your passion” line. What better example than to do it ourselves. Entrepreneurship isn’t just for the young, but the young at heart. We want Off Our Rocker Cookies to signify more than just a baked goods company-to show women in their 50’s and up that reinvention is possible, attainable and rewarding.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The only thing smooth is our peanut butter! One of the biggest struggles we have encountered is the “Farmer’s Market Tent vs. The Co-Rockers”. Challenges to the tent include, 30 mph winds, heat waves and torrential down pours. We need not say more. We are also virgins in the social media arena, still unsure of the vernacular, confusing likes with follows and tweets with birds and at our advanced age can never remember our passwords. Thanks to the patience of our savvy children, we’ve been able to slowly get our bearings.

The difference between doing this when one is younger verses our age, is understanding that mistakes, although frustrating, are valuable learning opportunities. As novices we are continually absorbing new material, but have been fortunate to make connections in the industry and meet individuals who have been incredibly helpful in our journey.

Off Our Rocker Cookies – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We shop, we unload, we mix, we bake, we clean, we load, we deliver and we sell. Enough said.

Our cookies and granola are baked with soul, labeled with humor and wrapped with love. When we first started out, we created chocolate chip cookies with a twist, from Orange is the New Chip to Pucker Up Chip and Lime in the Cocochip. After some time researching the cookie market, we recognized the need to differentiate ourselves and created our Crumb De La Crème products – essentially bite size cookie crumbs. Our hope is to become the new munchie, move over Cheetos!

Vegan products have become the panacea of the food industry and in order to appease family members, we created our zesty granola, Hippie Cratic Oats (Bakers sworn to the highest oat!), and our Super Food Sweet Potato Based Cookies, (Sweet Chocomotion, Sweet Nuttin’ & Sweetie Pie). We dare carnivores to resist! Our Vegan Cookies, for lack of a better word, are “moist” (if you have a better word, we’d like to know) and unlike any vegan cookies (that we ourselves have tried).

We are most proud of starting a business at 50 plus, for having the courage to reinvent ourselves and to persevere in the food industry. Above all we have made incredible connections with likeminded women and men who are eager to help one another and have found this to be empowering, energizing and fulfilling.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Repeat customers. Honestly, we love to see the smile on our customers faces when they taste our cookies and granola and we hear these phrases and we quote, “damn that’s good”, “I’ve dreamed of cookies like this” and our favorite, when a friend’s 12 year old son requested our Sweetie Pie as a reward for his top notch grades. This is why we get up at 5:30 am (ok, we would still be up at 5:30 am at our age).

On a personal level, we are grateful to have found a passion that provides us with endless amounts of laughter, opportunities for growth and learning personally and professionally, and a chance to share our experiences and wisdom to hopefully empower and motivate others.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Beth Shedd Photography

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