Top cookie sellers receive a visit from Alison Cowzer!

Dragon’s Den investor Alison Cowzer paid a visit to Carrigdhoun Guides and Carrigaline Senior Branch on 5 November to congratulate them on being Irish Girl Guides’ top cookie-sellers.

The Cork girls sold a total of 1,536 packets of IGG cookies during last year’s National Cookie Month and they hope to sell just as many during this year’s National Cookie Month. By selling so many cookies last year, the girls raised a whopping €1,536 for unit funds, which they spent on fun day trips.

Carrigdhoun Guide Leader Aisling Claffey says they managed to sell so many because the girls became very passionate about the initiative. “They all believed in it and worked really hard,” she said. She praised the local community for being hugely supportive, especially Barry Collins Super Valu, which allowed the girls set up a stall outside the supermarket.

“The Guide unit became the Carrigaline Cookie Company with all the Guides as employees working in different departments – management, marketing, HR, sales and distribution and finance,” said Aisling. “We continued the company after Cookie Month and into the New Year when they continued to work in their departments and earned a number of more Guide badges, including Money Matters, Healthy Mind and Online Safety.”

Selling the cookies was not only a fantastic fundraiser, but it also helped the girls develop business, money management, communications and other essential life-skills. Guide Christina (12) said: “I definitely think I was more confident afterwards and a lot more resilient as well.”

Carrigdhoun Ladybirds (aged 5-7) were also involved in selling cookies. “They were fun to sell – we made lots of posters and worked together,” said Natalie (6). “The cookies were yummy and we used the money to go on lots of days out and do lots of fun things.”

This year is IGG’s third National Cookie Month and, for the first time, the girls are selling two different products. As well as the original choc-chip cookies, they are also selling Irish butter chocolate-enrobed chocolate chunk cookies. This is thanks to a grant from the Ulster Bank Skills and Opportunities Fund, which helped fund research into a new flavour and develop new promotional materials. One hundred and twenty-five Guides participated in a taste test of seven flavours and the chocolate chunk cookies were a clear winner!

Both flavours of cookies are made in East Coast Bakehouse in Drogheda. Alison Cowzer, who is co-founder of East Coast Bakehouse, has proved an invaluable mentor for IGG members taking part in the #FutureCEOs initiative, sharing with them her insider tips for making sales.

Ms Cowzer is delighted to lend her support, given that, she says, “It could take centuries to achieve equality without serious efforts to bring women into male-dominated spheres such as business and politics. No other organisation in Ireland is specifically working with girls to tackle the gender imbalance in business and so I am very happy to be a part of this project, which is helping foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among Irish girls and young women.”