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“Obstacles are stepping stones.” With Candice Georgiadis & Arlana Brooks

“Obstacles are stepping stones.” My life has been full obstacles that have helped me get to the next step. Each obstacle present an opportunity, or a pivot, which sometimes present themselves in disguise. Obstacles drive me to figure out a solution, and this solution always takes me to the next step. The Covid-19 pandemic has […]

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“Obstacles are stepping stones.” My life has been full obstacles that have helped me get to the next step. Each obstacle present an opportunity, or a pivot, which sometimes present themselves in disguise. Obstacles drive me to figure out a solution, and this solution always takes me to the next step.


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Arlana Brooks

Arlana Brooks is a multifaceted woman — a devoted mother with a career in civil engineering and a lifelong love for baking. Inspired by her own mother, Arlana learned early the culinary techniques that would later serve her own company. She founded Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies in 1993 when a simple gift of cookies led to substantial orders for individuals and future events. Arlana’s elegant style is demonstrated in her high-end packaging that is made with beautiful accents and personalized accessories.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I always enjoyed math. Math was not my best subject in High School, but I enjoyed how it made me problem solve.

Prior to starting college, I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer but I knew that entailed working in an office all day which wasn’t doable for my active self. I decided to major in Civil Engineering because it gave me the flexibility to work inside and outside. Civil Engineering steered me toward working in Construction where I’ve worked for 27 years and love what I do!

I started my baking business in 1993, my last year of college. It all began when I made cookies for my mother’s job’s potluck, at her request. When she came home, to my surprise, she had paid orders. That’s where the road began for Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies.

Now I am lucky enough to have two career loves: Construction and Baking. 😊

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

From the start of Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies to today, the entire journey has been an interesting story. The journey is full of highs, lows, challenges and inspirations. This journey truly drives me.

When there were challenges, I burst through and doors opened because of my ambition.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am honing in on my give-back causes. I am finishing the Community Impact page on my website, which will allow customers to donate to local organizations close to my heart such as single mothers, STEM, and breast cancer awareness. Each charity we partner with will receive 25% of sales in their designated month and the customer will receive 10% off the next purchase of Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

During my recent phase of revamping the cookie business, a college friend offered to invest. It took me years to take her up on the offer. When I did revisit the offer, she said “I was just waiting on you.”

It was then I knew what I had to do to be successful and grow. I am so grateful for her patience and her belief in me. Accepting her offer meant that I was aware of where I wanted to be and how to get there.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

Being a single mommy, having full-time job as an essential worker, and running my Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies is a true balancing act. Now that my father was recently diagnosed with terminal Bladder Cancer and ongoing Dementia, my family is being faced with even more challenges.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

  • Being a single mom: My mother watches my 5-year-old daughter and tends to my dad every day. With my daughter starting kindergarten soon as a distance learner, I know I must relieve some pressure from my mom. I’ve recruited a part of village to assist to reduce the time my daughter is at my parent’s when school starts.
  • Full-Time Job: I am organizing my schedule so that I can work from home a few hours a day to make sure my daughter is engaged during class time. When my workday ends, work stays at work. It is important for me to establish boundaries.
  • Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies: Having a great co-packer and baker relieves me from baking. I am able to email requests. Once baked, I can pick up the cookies or call my delivery service. The individually-packaged cookies are returned my office where we package them in gift boxes and send them out for shipment. I also recently hired a dynamic public relations firm, Anika PR, which was been tremendous help!

Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

The biggest challenge we are facing, as I am sure many other companies can relate to, is driving clients to my website to place orders. We are working to tap into companies (both small and large) for great gifts for their employees and clients.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I have created boxes called “Gratitude Gourmet.” Each labeled box has a gratitude phrase which come in boxes of 6,12 or 24 cookies.

I have also started providing cookies to client’s employees prior to online meetings to get people hooked and spread the word about my business.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Since I’m an essential worker, I continue to work at the office, but with temperature checks, a mask and safe distancing. My mom watches my 5-year-old daughter and tends to my dad every day, a huge help I am so grateful for.

With my daughter starting kindergarten soon as a distance learner, I know I must relieve some pressure from my mom. I’ve recruited help and I’ve created a daily schedule for my daughter and I which I’ve post on the wall. This will be a learning experience for the both of us!

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

After work, I pick up my daughter from my parent’s house and we go home to relax, play games and bake. We watch a lot of Disney — it makes us both happy and helps us unwind. On Saturdays we drive to a different Target for weekly shopping, a silly event that gives us something to look forward to.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. We will get through this! The world has been through this before and we have a road map. We just must learn by past examples and experiences. Imagine what your wiser self would say to console your current self.
  2. Remind yourself that though this pandemic feel endless, this too will someday be in the past.
  3. This crisis has brought out the good in many people. It reminders us that a lot of people have great unselfish hearts. My daughter and I have at time’s fill a backpack with essentials, goodies and, of course, Arlana’s Gourmet Cookies to give to the homeless. Small practices of care go a long way. Try it for yourself.
  4. This is an awaking for the world not of the inconsistencies of a global pandemic, but also racism. Those that never understood the challenges of being Black now do.
  5. Take this time to make yourself a better person. Learn a skill. Read a book on racism. Take an online class.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Write down what you love doing and follow your dreams. Learn who you are. Getting to know yourself is the most important component of success. Simply put, this is the best time to learn about you because you finally have the time. Excuses to continue putting it off are failing you left and right — get to it!

Try not to worry about what you do not have control over. Live your best life and be kind to others. What you give, you will receive.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Obstacles are stepping stones.” My life has been full obstacles that have helped me get to the next step. Each obstacle present an opportunity, or a pivot, which sometimes present themselves in disguise. Obstacles drive me to figure out a solution, and this solution always takes me to the next step.

How can our readers follow you online?

www.facebook.com/arlanasgourmetcookies

www.twitter.com/@agcookies

www.pinterest.com/agcookies15

www.instagram.com/agourmetcookies

www.linkedin.com/company/arlana’s-gourmet-cookies

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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