About Time You Met: Chelsie Collins and Kristelle Levy, Founders of Blondies KitchenBy Angelica Malin
Chelsie Collins and Kristelle Levy are the powerhouse duo behind Blondies Kitchen – the UK’s first and only milk and cookie bar. From humble beginnings in Old Street Station, Blondies Kitchen has grown exponentially, and are now found in the iconic Selfridges Food Hall, along with a number of carts found around London.
We chatted to the pair about their now-famous NYC-style cookies, how they’re scaling up their business, and advice for anyone looking to start their own food venture:
What has been your experience within the food industry?
Kristelle has always worked in restaurants and was head chef at a restaurant in Primrose Hill for over two years. Chelsie was a cookery writer for BBC Good Food, starting as a cookery assistant, testing all the recipes for the magazine and producing hundreds of recipes for the site. We also teamed up to do catering as a side hustle, which is where we became well known for our cakes and cookies.
How did this lead to where you are now?
We were inspired by American-style cookies on a trip to New York in 2016 and decided to join forces to bring the taste of America back to London. Starting with a pop-up in Old Street, we have since expanded to a permanent spot in London’s iconic Selfridges Food Hall, as well as our nationwide e-commerce platform BlondiesKitchen.co.uk. We have also since hosted micro stores/carts around London and even in Selfridges Manchester & Birmingham, including Kingly Street Soho, Brent Cross shopping centre, and Bicester Village.
What advice would you give your younger selves?
Throughout our journey so far we have learnt that we can only grow as far as we can manage, so it’s always okay to take things slowly. Every project will have its struggles, but hard work will always pay off as long as you remain committed to your mission. You just have to keep going – we constantly remind each other that we’re living our dream, so even when the going gets tough it’ll always be worth it as long as you don’t give up!
What makes a Blondies Kitchen cookie so great?
A proper cookie is crisp at the edges, chewy all the way through, with a soft centre. We have combined this with nostalgic-inspired flavour innovations to create the perfect indulgent American-style bake – you’re sure to savour each and every mouthful.
What plans do you have for the future?
In the future we’re looking to expand our personalised products to be delivered nationwide, not just in London. Of course, the dream would be to launch our own flagship Cookie Bar with a seating area as well! In terms of more immediate plans, we’re launching our very own Youtube channel with lots of recipe content so watch this space.
How did you scale up your business?
We’re still in the process of scaling up our business and it definitely has its challenges. Every day we’re learning something new. So far, scaling has happened naturally as we didn’t have a choice but to implement new systems to make production work. This included renting more space in our current bakery building with storage rooms, a packing room and even an office area. Right now however we’re just so excited to be able to welcome back guests to our cookie bar now that the world is slowly returning to normality!
What’s been your most popular product so far?
Our most popular products are definitely from our original signature cookie range – the Classic Choc Chip, Klassic with a K and The Blondie are all firm fan favourites!
How did you initially get your Blondies Kitchen idea off the ground? Did you seek advice/help from anyone?
When we initially had the idea, we just went for it! We trialled the concept as a pop-up in Old Street station for 12 days and it just seemed to work! People loved the product and the press picked it up which really helped. We’ve always looked to others that we admire for advice. Victoria Nurtman who co-founded Lola’s Cupcakes has been there for us from the very start. She has always given us her time and her answers over the years have been so helpful to us. Find someone you aspire to be like and reach out to them – the worst they can do is say no! We’ve also had advice from Mario Budwig, the founder of Millie’s Cookies, the owners of Crosstown Doughnuts and more. We’re incredibly grateful to anyone who has given us the time to speak to us and help us along our journey.
For anyone looking to start their own food venture – what advice would you share?
The best advice we can give is to keep going, keep learning and never give up. You have to be adaptable, accept change and listen to your audience. They’re your people, they’re your customers, your insight – they’ll be the most valuable tool to you throughout the whole process.
What drew you to milk and cookies over other sweet treats?
We always had the cookies on our catering menu and became known as the ‘cookie girls’ in our area. No one else was creating cookies in a really fun and creative way and we decided it was time to make cookies cool again. Five years later we think the idea definitely caught on!
For more information on Blondies Kitchen, see here.