The Del Ray Cakery‘s sugar cookie sales have been so strong during the pandemic that founder Rebecca Underly is thinking about rebranding her business. Now she wants to primarily sell cookies and she’s even come up with a new name — The Del Ray Cookie Co.
After selling hundreds of cookie bouquet packages and more than 500 cookie kits for families to decorate their own baked treats at home during the pandemic, Underly is starting to think she’s found her niche.
“Cookie bouquets went bonkers at graduation,” Underly said. “I am not making any cakes. All I am doing is this. The cookies are great because I don’t need to store them in a refrigerator. When COVID hit, I was like, ‘Dang, what am I gonna do?’ So, I made cookie kits, and the first week I sold 20 kits, then 40 kits the week after that, then 50.”
She added, “People just want a sense of normalcy and this is the closest thing that I could give to them to get them to normal. We can’t blow out the candles of a cake, so I feel like this has been a great compromise in a safe way for my clients to feel like things are okay.”
Underly was the pastry chef at Blair House for four years almost straight out of culinary school, and cooked for celebrities and world leaders. She is also a former Fairfax County Public School teacher who quit her job to pursue a career in the kitchen. She and her husband, John, have two teenage sons and has lived in Del Ray since 1995. In 2003 she also founded her own company, Culinary Endeavors, and wrote recipes for corporations and grocery chains — in addition to cooking for clients.
Then in 2010 Underly attracted thousands of customers with her cake pops at the Art on the Avenue festival in Del Ray.
“I brought cake pops to Art on the Avenue and nobody in Northern Virginia was doing that,” she said. “I made 2,000 and I literally sold them out in less than an hour. People were lined up three, four, five tents down. I made these silly things and then it exploded from there, and I’ve probably made 50,000 cake pops since then.”
The Del Ray Cakery operates out of Underly’s home, and customers need to buy either a cookie kit (includes six cookies, directions and edible paint for $20-$30) or a dozen cookies for $42-$60. The cookies are individually wrapped in plastic and are also available for porch-side pickup from her house.
Underly said the pandemic has increased her sales, and that she only wants to grow regionally.
“The pandemic has given me time to think about what’s important to me,” Underly said. “I love things on a stick, like Pop Tarts and s’mores and cookies. I think that’s why I’m evolving out of the cakery. It makes me want to continue what I’m doing, and it’s fun. I want enough business for me to provide for Alexandria and Arlington. I don’t need to be further than that.”
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Photo via Del Ray Cakery/Facebook