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Why Tin Lizzie Baked Goods, a Louisville business, sees sweet success

Jul 20, 2023

It all started with the buttercream.

When Lizzie Kelly was in grad school to become a physical therapist, she started baking as a creative outlet. She'd bring cookies into her clinicals to share, and every time, people commented on the buttercream she topped her cookies with.

One thing led to another, and Tin Lizzie Baked Goods was born.

"My goal is to one day open a brick-and-mortar store and sell cookies out of tin boxes," Kelly said. "The buttercream-frosted sugar cookie is the bread-and-butter of the business. The biggest thing that sets these cookies apart from other cookie businesses in the Louisville area is that buttercream frosting. Most use Royal icing, which is beautiful and allows detailed, intricate designs, but gets crunchy. The buttercream can't be as detailed but it doesn't get hard and crunchy, and the cookies really taste good."

Kelly's buttercream-frosted sugar cookies were originally a family recipe she expanded, she said. The cookies are comparable to shortbread, softer on the inside and crisp on the outside like a cookie cake.

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At first, Tin Lizzie Baked Goods operated the way most individually-owned baking groups start: baking from home and selling direct to customers under the Kentucky Cottage Food Laws. Kelly, 27, graduated from physical therapy school, took a job at Norton Healthcare and baked cookies in her spare time. She took custom orders and sold cookies by the dozen for pickup.

When the pandemic hit, her sales skyrocketed and everything changed. Kelly switched from full-time work as a PT to full-time work as a cookie baker. Earlier this year she launched a website and upgraded to a commercial kitchen space in Chef Space, 1812 W Muhammad Ali Blvd.

"Four years ago when I first started, I remember seeing 30 dozen cookies sitting on the dining room table and we thought it was insane," she said. "Now the busiest week of the commercial kitchen so far has been making more than 150 dozen cookies."

The cookie company's first major wholesale client launched in May: a cold call to the buyers at Paul's Fruit Market led to Tin Lizzie Baked Goods products hitting the store's shelves on Kentucky Derby weekend.

They sold out within two days.

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Paul's Fruit Market stocks several kinds of Kelly's cookies. The biggest seller is four-packs of the buttercream-frosted sugar cookies ($14), but there are also buttercream-frosted chocolate chip cookies ($15.49), plain chocolate chip, plain M&M and "Ultimate" cookies, which have chocolate chips, M&Ms and oats baked in. Uniced cookies are sold individually wrapped ($3-$3.30), or in half-dozen boxes ($16).

Kelly credited her business' success to her support system, the power of social media referrals, and her accessibility. Kelly prefers custom orders be made on the website, but she'll still take them via Facebook or Instagram messages. She shares her cellphone number with customers easily and returns queries within a day.

Kelly's prices also draw in new and repeat customers. While custom cookies decorated with Royal icing can run $50 to $60 a dozen, Kelly said, she charges a flat $25 per dozen for custom orders no matter the complexity or event type.

"Everybody who wants a buttercream cookie should be able to get one," she said. "Of course, ingredients are crazy high right now ... my first price increase was this past January and I hated to do that. But I really think at the end of the day if I can provide to as many people and make things as easy as possible, that's what will keep people coming back. Leaving a good taste in someone's mouth."

Visit to order custom cookies or view the current menu. Paul's Fruit Market locations are open Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Reach reporter Dahlia Ghabour at [email protected].

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