Grey Ghost Bakery

Katherine Frankstone remembers sitting on her family’s porch, eating cookies and listening to her grandparents tell stories about the friendly ghost haunting an island off South Carolina’s coast. Combining her favorite past time memory with her father’s famous cookie recipe, Frankstone launched Grey Ghost Bakery in 2012.

After nearly surrendering the dream of owning her own bakery, a few Christmas miracles led Grey Ghost to it’s own space in Charleston. She has since expanded Grey Ghost’s recipes using only the freshest ingredients with “really good butter and really good flour.”

Continuously inspired by old cookbooks, Frankstone only bakes true, homemade cookies. Open a beautiful bag of Grey Ghost’s cookies, take in the aroma and allow yourself the affordable indulgence crafted by Frankstone.

MoL: Company name?
KF: Grey Ghost Bakery

MoL: What date was Grey Ghost launched?
KF: We had a soft launch in December 2011. After that, we had to work through some production kinks, so we really launched officially in September 2012.

MoL: Where is Grey Ghost Bakery located?
KF: Charleston, South Carolina

MoL: What is Grey Ghost’s mission statement?
KF: We make delicious cookies that remind you of the of the cookies that your grandmother made you when you were a child…but even better.

MoL: What makes your company unique?
KF: Grey Ghost Bakery cookies are made with old-fashioned recipes, in the same way you would make them in your very own kitchen. They’re packaged homemade cookies, essentially.  And they taste like they were fresh baked for long enough to be on the shelf. Amazingly, they have a shelf life of about 4 months, so you really can take a bag home and feel like they were fresh made in your kitchen that day.

MoL: What is the inspiration behind the idea of Grey Ghost Bakery?
KF: I have always loved to bake. My dad taught me how to bake, and it was a Sunday afternoon past time. People used to say, “Gosh, these cookies are so good, you can sell them!” And I would laugh and chuckle and be gratified to give them away and make people smile… And all these years later, it’s been delightful that we’ve been able to create a family business out of treasured family recipes.

MoL: Do you engage in any social entrepreneurship/community outreach/partnership?
KF: One of the important things in my life is giving back to the community, and I’ve done a number of things that have been impactful and I love the chance to do that.

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MoL: What was the moment you realized this could really work?
KF: It’s actually really funny. In starting a food business, there are lots of pieces to figure out. It’s not just a really good cookie that you think is great to eat and people will buy. We searched the industry, started answering questions and figuring it out. Every time I thought I had all the edge pieces of that jigsaw puzzle together and I could start filling in the center, there would be two or three other questions that I hadn’t even thought to ask. To answer those, the puzzle would just expand. I just about got to the point where I was like ‘I really need to figure out something that’s less complicated.’ But a dear friend of mine working with the Red Cross at the time asked me to donate 450 cookies to an event and she wanted 18 dozen for Christmas gifts. I thought, well I can do the 450 cookies with no problem, but I would need to have bags with the brand’s name, I need labels done pretty quickly. Her event was December 7, and before Christmas, I had sold 300 dozen by word of mouth. That was my “aha” moment.

MoL: What are some of the obstacles encountered at the beginning? What was the process in finding solutions?
KF: I wouldn’t call them obstacles, I think there are challenges to running any business. As for finding solutions, we asked questions of everyone we knew in the food business. You can’t ask too many questions!

MoL: What is the future vision for the company?
KF: We have a vision for Grey Ghost Bakery to be the premier specialty cookie provider. And we’d like to be thought of as one of the go-to products for gifts and for special personal indulgences. If people want to treat themselves, we offer an affordable luxury.

MoL: What imprint on the world does the company wish to leave?
KF: I would like for Grey Ghost bakery to put smiles on people’s faces when they think of the cookies and when they think of the brand, because there are enough challenges in the world.

 

“We are making a happy product that evokes good memories, so we like to think we are spreading sunshine.”

 

MoL: How does Grey Ghost cater to elevating the quality of life?
KF: It’s an affordable indulgence. They’re the cookies that you loved in your childhood, but with a sophisticated modern twist. And I think they’re unlike anything else in the food market place. And we bring joy to our customers.

MoL: How are the customer’s senses engaged during his or her dining experience?
KF: Well, there’s definitely the smell. As soon as you open a bag, you can smell the flavors. We have four flavors: Chocolate Espresso, Cinnamon Pecan, Lemon Sugar and Molasses Spice, with distinct aromas. When you bite into the cookie, you have a flavor burst and the chewy/crunchy texture is unlike anything else. They also are very pretty, either rolled in sugar or nuts, so they’re pleasant to look at. At the end of the day, they taste awfully, awfully good.

MoL: Any influential figure/organization you look up to?
KF: My biggest inspiration comes from old cookbooks. I think about the flavors that I grew up with and what envokes memories with me, which is where we start.

MoL: What is the best advice you’ve received and from whom?
KF: “If at first you don’t succeed,  try try again.” That came from my mother.

MoL: What is something you know now that you wish you knew before?
KF: I wish that I had known earlier all the questions to ask. But it led us on to the people that we needed to connect with to bring us to market, and bring the brand to market in a way that has allowed us to be successful. I wish there were a handbook of all the questions you need to ask and to think about before you ever started bringing the food into market. And who knows, maybe I’ll write that book one day.

MoL: Words of wisdom you live by?
KF: Be kind. Everybody’s got something that they’re dealing with.

MoL: Where do you go for peace of mind and spirit?
KF: I have always loved the water. And I am fortunate enough to live in a home that overlooks the marsh in South Carolina.  No matter how stressful the day might have been, looking out at the marsh and seeing the sun play off the grass and the birds fly around is instant relaxation for me.

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MoL: What advice can you give anyone interested in starting his or her own career in the food industry?
KF: I would say find what you love to do and figure out a way to make a career out of it, rather than hoping to find a perfect job that will give you enough money, or time to go find whatever it is you love to do as a hobby. I actually started out wanting to be a pastry chef after college, and then I went to business school and worked for a bank and then did some non-profit work and finally have come full circle at mid-life and doing what I would have loved to do all along, but I didn’t give myself permission to follow that joy. I thought I had to have a “real job” and not be a pastry chef. Figure out what you love to do and follow that dream.

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