As we have mentioned, Nashville has a serious sweet tooth. Megan (Beaven) Feeman made her debut in the sweets community with edible cookie dough. A company that started online, NoBaked Cookie Dough opened its first brick-and-mortar location last year and hasn’t stopped growing since. Recent changes and expansion plans for the company include milkshakes and gluten-free cookie dough (both now available!), store openings in Lexington, Chattanooga’s NorthShore neighborhood and Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood and a food truck that we hope to see on the streets soon, plus another concept that will serve infused ice cream (look for Cosmic Creamery in Germantown this fall!). Megan has faced challenges as a young woman with a growing business, but with every challenge comes a great success. Today, we are here to talk about what makes this sweet treat so popular and how she is keeping up with the demand! Welcome Megan (Beaven) Feeman as today’s FACE of Nashville!
Tell us the story behind NoBaked Cookie Dough. Why did you start the business?
I started NoBaked in March of 2017. At the time, I was working a full-time job in the music industry and was extremely unhappy about where I saw my career going. I felt like I didn’t have control over what I was doing and how I was advancing. I knew I would feel that way as long as I was working for someone else. My parents owned their own business, so growing up, I always saw them work hard for things and enjoy what their hard work had brought them. Starting a business was always in the back of my mind.
Cookie dough has always been my favorite dessert, and I’ve been making safe-to-eat cookie dough since before I moved to Nashville for college. Once I realized that other people loved it, too, that’s when I knew I could sell it.
When did you decide to open a storefront?
After the first NoBaked pop-up shop, I knew that I needed to start working towards opening a storefront, although that wasn’t my original plan. My husband (then-fiancé), Jimmy, helped get me to see a vision of NoBaked that’s similar to how it is today. Originally, I thought it would just be an online company. Our storefront here didn’t open until October, but that was mostly because it’s very hard to convince a landlord to lease to a 23-year-old who doesn’t have a lot of money and has had a business selling cookie dough for just a couple of months. Real estate in Nashville is tough, and nobody wants to lease to the little guy.
Why do you think the trend of edible cookie dough has become so popular?
I think edible cookie dough has become so popular because this is the first time it’s being presented in a fun and accepted way. There are so many people who would buy tubs of cookie dough, just so they could eat the dough and never actually baked cookies. I did it all the time, but I always felt weird about it — because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be doing it. Cookie dough shops let cookie dough lovers eat it the way we want to and have a cool experience while doing it.
What makes Nashville the ideal place to start a business?
Nashville was the perfect place for me to start NoBaked because this city is very open to new concepts. We were the first company in the Southern United States that starting selling cookie dough like this, so Nashville’s support meant everything to us. I will say that just because Nashville’s economy is so strong doesn’t mean that every business is going to make it. I see a different restaurant go out of business here every week. The whole “build it and they will come” concept isn’t the way things work in the food industry. Marketing is key.
What’s been the most challenging thing about opening your own business? What’s been the most rewarding?
Everything is a challenge because I’ve never done any of it before, especially in the food industry. I went into it not knowing what I was doing but hoping that I would figure it out. The most challenging part has been being so young and not having a lot to show for myself. It’s hard to get people to work with you or believe in the concept when you don’t have credibility from something else.
The most rewarding part has been seeing people’s reactions. I saw this even when I was just doing the pop-ups — a look of pure joy when they realize that they are actually eating a scoop of cookie dough. It is priceless to be able to create something that brings joy to people for even a couple of minutes.
What inspires your flavors?
I created most of the flavors based off of cookie flavors, but some of them are inspired by customer and employee suggestions. We get a ton of suggestions and ideas thrown at us, so I usually test things out and pick the ones that I think taste best.
Do you have a favorite flavor on the menu?
S’mores is my favorite flavor, hands down.
As a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through the phases of wanting to be everything. I wanted to be an actress, a singer, a veterinarian, a marine biologist, and lastly, I wanted to work in the music industry, specifically with country music. Clearly, things change.
When you aren’t working, where can we find you?
With my husband and dogs at the park, at a concert or traveling to a new place.
What restaurant is at the top of your must-try list?
This isn’t necessarily a restaurant, but Flamingo Cocktail Club. I’ve heard the vibe is cool, and the decor is something I would love.
What books are on your bedside table?
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I’ve gotten a ton of great advice from my parents, Jimmy and some other mentors, but this question just takes me back to the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. He’s the founder of Nike, and in the last pages of his book, he writes a couple of paragraphs of advice for young entrepreneurs. Hearing it from someone like him, someone who started with nothing and is now one of the richest men in the world who created one of the largest companies in existence, hits you in a different way. Here are a couple of great sentences from it:
“I’d tell men and women in their mid-twenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends.
Coffee, music and dogs.
Thank you to Megan (Beaven) Feeman for letting us indulge our inner child and enjoy cookie dough — guilt-free! And a special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s beautiful photos!
With 23 years of nursing experience and 16 years as a lactation consultant (not to mention her firsthand experience as a mother and now grandmother), Noreen Webb is not only passionate about working at TriStar StoneCrest, she’s also well-versed in the benefits, challenges and myths associated with breastfeeding. CLICK HERE to meet our newest FACE of TriStar!