Lexie Comstock joined the Shanghai food scene in 2010 after graduating Harvard and missing cookies. While Lexie has been baking for three years now in Shanghai, her business is anything but stale. From a new ice cream truck stationed on Yongkang Lu to their new NYU Shanghai cookie and partnership with Snow Maple Desserts at their Nom Nom Dessert Bar, Strictly Cookies is raring to go with new concoctions this fall season. Lexie gave us the inside scoop on her cookie business and what you can look forward to in the upcoming months.
So you just launched the NYU Shanghai cookie. Can you tell us about the partnership you have with the school?
We started unofficially working with NYU last year when I went just to talk to some of their students about working in China and starting a business in China. They have been ordering cookies for various events, and then we just started talking about a more consistent partnership which I was obviously really excited about because I’m a few years out of college so I can relate to the college kid. I was excited about offering cookies. I came out here right after college around their age. I know what it means to miss food from home. I was really excited about offering them something that reminded them of home.
You graduated from Harvard in 2010. How does Harvard feel about this partnership? Do you feel you have betrayed your alma mater?!
Well, they haven’t reached out. Any college that wants to work with me, I’m very happy to work with.
Your blog was being renovated during the Mid-Autumn Festival. What were the big changes that have been made and what’s the general direction for your site at the moment?
Right when I started Strictly Cookies, I had a Tumblr and literally no one was reading it. My friend Jay was the one subscriber. I love doing silly stuff like that. I have an awesome staff who is so game to do things like that. So when we were doing mookies (mooncake cookies) for the Mid-Autumn Festival, every day I wanted to launch a cookie flavor. The first day, I was like “mookie launch” and then I was like, “Oh my God, we should actually LAUNCH the mookie.” And so that’s a big thing I’m going to continue spending a lot of time on – the blog – and doing fun videos like that because that’s what I enjoy the most.
Anything new we can look forward to seeing on the blog then?
Cookie pranks will be up soon – stay tuned.
You moved to Nom Nom Dessert Bar in April of this year. Overall, how has your business evolved since Strictly Cookies opened in 2010?
When we started out, it was all very small scale. We were doing the same thing we are doing now. Whole sale, online delivery, and fairs. But there was a limit to what I could actually produce and work with, so now we’ve just grown within those avenues. So we have more whole-sale partners and an actual store. Why we were doing the website update was so we could have a better and more efficient order system online, which we do now. It’s more self explanatory – you can just click add to cart, and you can see your order, fun stuff like that. It’s just become more professional as we’ve gotten more people involved, and I’m able to work on the blog and things like that.
And what has been the most epic moment of owning a cookie business in Shanghai so far?
In February, Elton John came to Shanghai, and I got a call from his back stage manager being like, “Hey, can you do white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies?” And I didn’t know who it was so I said, “I’m really sorry, you would have to buy a whole batch, and it’s really hard to find. We can’t really fill those requests if it’s just for ten cookies. It’s very expensive and hard to pull off.” And they were like, “Yeah, so we are from Elton John’s team so…” And so I said OK. That was a high that I talk about all the time, but it was pretty cool.
Are there any other projects in the works? Anything we can look forward to from Strictly Cookies?
Our ice cream cart – in it we do our ice cream cookie sandwiches, Snow Maple Desserts does their ice cream, and our other friend James, who runs The British Kitchen, does ice cream cakes. We are going to be bringing this around, and this weekend we are going to have a spot on Yongkang Lu outside of Sailors. Also, in the shop, we are going to use this for make your own ice cream sandwich. One thing I’m really excited about is we are going to start offering classes in the shop. It’s going to be a fun mix – for kids, it will be baking classes, so you could do food and decorate your own aprons, a very wholesome event and parents could come with kids or they could have a party here. Also, we are going to be doing baking happy hours.
Tell me more about those!
We are still developing. Basically, from 7-10 we’ll have wine deals and beer deals. I just like the idea of instead of just going to a bar, having an activity to do. It could be a very nice option.
Any last thoughts?
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Strictly Cookies’ Nom Nom Dessert Bar is located at 1160 Ya’nan Xi Lu, near Panyu Lu on the 1st floor in the Metrobank building. Order cookies for Strictly Cookies here.
Charlotte Evans is a food contributor for Shanghaiist’s Food Desk. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].